TL;DR: Boltz now provides a self-custodial way to get a balanced lightning channel without manual actions required from the end-user.
Bitcoin’s lightning network has been under constant limelight since it was conceptualized by Poon et al. in a 2015 paper. It’s touted as a solution to the scaling problem of the Bitcoin network. By acting as a second layer, the lightning network enables faster settlements of transactions without compromising with the censorship-resistant properties of the underlying blockchain. But it comes with a fair share of tradeoffs. Lightning skeptics have long argued that the Lightning Network is essentially hard to use and the way it is architectured results in a user experience that doesn’t pave a friendly road for users who want to take part in the lightning economy.
By building products and tools that help improve its usability for lightning users, we at Boltz as a Lightning service provider (LSP) have contributed towards fixing these aforementioned issues. Our new flagship offering: Channel Creation Swaps, is another step towards that goal.
As the name implies, Boltz Channel Creation Swap is another tool in the ever-growing Boltz arsenal that allows the users to get a balanced lightning channel in the easiest and most frictionless way possible. This is an important landmark for Boltz and the lightning ecosystem at large because it makes it easy for users to get up and running with lightning in a matter of minutes. There are few other providers that offer such a channel creation swap server, namely: Bitrefill’s Thor and Eclair’s Pheonix wallet, but Boltz offering distinguishes itself by keeping the self custodial and atomic nature of the channel creation service intact. This is revolutionary because there’s always a fine line between trading off the trustless nature or letting users deal with the UX friction. Boltz Channel Creation Swap finds a great balance between the two — which makes this offering an attractive proposition for developers trying to onboard users to their lightning wallets and apps, without worrying about which service to trust as these swaps retain the atomicity principle, i.e, swaps either complete in full or the user funds get refunded.
A normal user flow of setting up a self-custodial lightning wallet comes riddled with friction. After downloading the wallet and funding it with on-chain coins, the user has to open a channel and find a way to get inbound liquidity to the nodes he intends to transact with. This increases the user churn as it is the antithesis of promised fast payments via the lightning network.
By using a wallet or app that integrates Boltz Channel Creation service, end-users can now send the on-chain funds to Boltz, and in return, Boltz opens a fully balanced ready-to-transact lightning channel to the user’s node with inbound liquidity. This adheres to the ubiquitous and intuitive deposit flow in Bitcoin wallets that users are already familiar with — making this whole experience of going from installing the wallet to doing the first transaction as seamless as possible.
At the architectural level, Boltz Channel Creation Swaps are a kind of normal submarine swap (on-chain to off-chain) but with an additional feature — If there exists no route between the user and Boltz node, Boltz will open a channel on the fly and deposit the amount that the user sent on-chain minus the fee, to the newly created channel. This means that for a Channel Creation Swap to get triggered: There shouldn’t be an existing route between the user and Boltz with a cumulative inbound capacity greater than or equal to the intended on-chain deposit amount. The perk of channel creation swap being a type of normal submarine atomic swap is that the user doesn’t need to trust Boltz or any other lightning service provider offering this service — making it a truly transformative UX improvement for people using the lightning network.
This is a step-by-step demo of the channel creation swap.
Boltz channel creation swap is an important milestone for Boltz and the lightning ecosystem. It’s planned integration with popular node management tools and wallets would further bring down the UX barrier. We plan to continue working on building tools that will enable more users to partake in the lightning economy and empower them to join the movement of reclaiming our financial sovereignty.
Until next time, Boltz on!