It’s a bird… it’s a plane, it’s Bitcoin!

 

Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Bitcoin! According to Wikipedia, Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency without a central bank or single administrator that can be sent from user to user on the peer-to-peer Bitcoin network without the need for intermediaries. The pace of Lightning innovation since its debut early last year has been staggering and the Lightning Network could help turn Bitcoin into Superman!

Ilias Louis Hatzis is the Founder at Mercato Blockchain Corporation AG and a weekly columnist at DailyFintech.com

This week it was hit by a severe trading warning, from China. Earlier this month, former European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet slammed bitcoin and Facebook’s crypto project, warning bitcoin is “not real” and not the future of money.

Bitcoin is going through a crisis.

Things are stirring in the cryptocurrency world. There is an ongoing debate about central bank issued digital currencies. The SEC treats Bitcoin as a security or money. FinCEN treats Bitcoin as currency. The IRS treats Bitcoin as property. The CFTC treats Bitcoin as a commodity. Regulators in Europe and Asia have their own definitions about what Bitcoin is and isn’t.

The price of Bitcoin has been on a downward trend all month, after breaking $10,000 per coin in October. The price of Bitcoin has fallen by nearly 30 percent. Bitcoin’s trading volume on both BitMEX and Coinbase has seen its lowest in a couple of months. In October trade volume on LocalBitcoins dropped by 30 percent, its lowest since September 2018.

Last time the BitMEX exchange recorded such low volumes, the BTC price surged by more than 20 percent just two days later, kick-starting the bull run in Spring 2019.

Whether low trading volumes signal a market reversal or not, the Lightning Network could be a driving force to push the value of Bitcoin to new record heights.

The Lightning Network successfully addresses scalability, one of Bitcoin’s biggest concerns. But beyond solving a couple of existing problems, Lightning Network opens Bitcoin to a whole new world of innovation.

While, Lightning Apps are very much in their early days, the Lightning Network is a platform for permissionless innovation, the kind of innovation that happens “because we can”, and not necessarily to solve a specific problem.

Recently, Joost Jager one of the developers at Lightning Labs, built Whatsat, a permissionless private messaging application on LN.

Whatsat is a new text messaging app that uses Lightning network to exchange messages, instead of transmitting transaction data. LN is a great candidate for exchanging messages, because it is already capable of routing bitcoin transaction data in a private, peer to peer way, and Bitcoin data is already a form of text message. These messages are end-to-end encrypted, routed over the TOR network, peer-to-peer, censorship-resistant, without any company or government playing Big Brother. Currently, there is no any charge for exchanging messages over Whatsat, but if usage grows, Lightning nodes could start charging money to route Whatsat messages, creating a pay-per-message model.

There’s plenty of other LApps available:

LNCast — a podcast platform where people can subscribe to a podcast using the Lightning Network

FileBazaar — A system for selling files such as documents, images, and videos

Lightning Publisher for WordPress — A patronage model for unlocking WordPress blog entries

Lightning Jukebox — A fun demo that reimagines a classic technology for the Lightning Network

Nanotip — The simple tip jar, rebuilt to issue Lightning Network invoices

Y’alls — A writing platform where writers are ‘paid’ for their work use micro-transactions on Lightning.

Lightning App — a mobile and desktop wallet

Intxbot — A Lightning-powered advertisement bot on Telegram

Breez — non-custodial wallet for iOS and Android

Bottle Pay — Bitcoin LN payments everywhere, also through your social media

Sats4likes — earn some satoshi for liking and retweeting on Twitter.

LN Pizza — using Lightning to buy pizza and Domino’s

Bitrefill — Pre-paid phone top-up service

Satoshi’s Games — There’s even a whole lot of games available

Lightnite — An upcoming battle royale game even pays gamers when they shoot an enemy, and you lose money when you’re being hit.

Building great things is hard. Innovation is even harder.

Lightning could replace the Internet as we know it. The main monetization model for the internet is based on advertising and while some companies have adopted subscription models and are trying to move away from ads, as their main source of revenue, Lightning Network could move us further in this direction, allowing for fast and cheap ways to request, share and pay for information.

Bitcoin is seven months away from its next halving and its price is still far below its all-time high, but LN is a visionary protocol that will eventually open a lot of doors for Bitcoin, making it a lot more useful in our every day lives and tuning it into the superhero its mean to be, letting anyone send money and data to anyone else peer-to-peer and censorship-resistant.

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