This week’s top story — Lightning Network Apps Proliferate

Ria Bhutoria
Feb 15, 2019 · 4 min read

Read the full weekly crypto recap here.

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There’s been a lot of recent buzz around the Lightning Network. The Lightning Torch is being passed across Twitter, Jack Dorsey and Elizabeth Stark appeared on Stephen Livera’s podcast, and ln.pizza recently launched. In our top story, we wanted to shed light on some innovative Lightning apps (“LApps”) and use cases.

The key benefit of the Lightning Network is that it facilitates instant micropayments. In order to interact with the apps discussed below, users are advised to operate a lightning node, but certain wallets, like BlueWallet, act as “hub operators” and allow users to plug into their hub without going through the process of setting up a local lightning or bitcoin node.

Once users plug into the network, either by setting up a local node or by using a solution like BlueWallet, they can interact with different apps that integrate the Lightning network. We discuss a few here:

Satoshi’s Place. Satoshi’s Place is an online art canvas where anyone can add pixels. It was inspired by Reddit Place and the Million Dollar Homepage as a way to show the power of Lightning Network enabled micropayments. There are 1 million pixels on the page and each pixel costs 1 satoshi. In order to add contributions to the artboard, users are advised to set up a lightning enabled wallet, deposit some bitcoin in the wallet, and open a Lightning Network channel with Satoshi’s Place, which creates an invoice whenever users prompt a submission.

Lightning Joule. Lightning Joule is a piece of software that makes it easy for users to interact with Lightning apps. Created by Will O’Beirne at Chaincode Labs, Joule is a Chrome extension similar to Metamask that allows lightning node operators to seamlessly make payments instantly through the browser without having to navigate different wallets and tabs.

Koala Studio. Koala Studio is an online gaming platform that collects payments for its games using the Lightning Network. The team’s motivation behind choosing Lightning Network for payments was the speed and ability to make micropayments for negligible fees. The first game on the network is Lightning Chess, where players can “undo moves, extend timers and every wager bets against each other for satoshis”. As with other apps discussed here, users don’t need to set up an account and password in order to play.

Yalls.org. Y’alls is a test website created by Alex Bosworth that allows writers to receive lightning payments (the only medium it accepts) for articles they post on the website. Visitors can also purchase “Reactions” (i.e. emojis) for $0.005 to use on articles. Y’alls shows visitors a snippet of an article and requests that users pay $0.005 to continue reading.

Bitrefill. Bitrefill is an online platform that allows people to buy phone minutes, gift cards, and other online goods with bitcoin, lightning, and other altcoins. According to this article by Kyle Torpey, payments made via the Lightning Network account for two times the payments made via any altcoins on the platform on most days. John Carvalho of Bitrefill has said that lightning payments comprise ~4% of daily sales.

Lightning Pizza. Last but not least, ln.pizza launched this week, bringing lightning payments to (Domino’s) pizza eaters nationwide. Users who use ln.pizza and lightning to pay receive a 5% discount and pay less than $0.01 in transaction fees. Ln.pizza mentioned on Twitter that it could expand beyond Domino’s to include additional pizza stores in the future and is working to expand to Canada.

It is impressive to see the variety in the ecosystem emerging around the Lightning Network and efforts to make it more robust and usable. To track apps using or being built on Lightning Network, you can follow LAppsLN.

Read the full weekly crypto recap here.

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