The Lightning Network protocol for micropayments has grown by 15% over the last month, which accounted for an increase in active nodes to 6,130. The number of channels has also risen to 24,500, with the network capacity now standing at more than 655 BTC. This was stated on the 1ML statistics website. The data is constantly changing, and the figures are likely to grow further. DeCenter figured out what sparked an intense interest in the technology that was introduced back in 2016.

Almost Olympic Satoshi Marathon

On January 19, 2019, a Norwegian Twitter user under the handle @hodlonaut began a social experiment. A Bitcoin enthusiast who has been interested in cryptocurrency since 2013 launched a campaign, with which users can test the operation of the Lightning Network technology and learn about the cohesion and openness of the crypto community. In a tweet, @hodlonaut announced his intention to transfer 100,000 satoshis to a randomly selected network user so that they, in turn, would transfer those coins to another member of the community. So began the “Lightning torch” marathon.

The campaign resembles the Olympic torch relay: to the initial payment of 100,000 satoshis (0.001 BTC), each new participant adds another 10,000 satoshis and sends the transaction to the next user. According to the organizer of the crypto marathon, the torch had to be restarted several times, since some users, who were randomly delegated the coins, left the cryptocurrency to themselves. Thus, the Lightning torch first collected 250,000 satoshis, and one of the recipients accepted this crypto transfer as a gift. The second time, @eduard_btc said he would just keep the money for himself, since “this is Bitcoin, and no one can stop me.”

The third launch of the Lightning Torch gathered over 150 participants, including well-known Bitcoin enthusiast Andreas Antonopoulos, Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey, Bitcoin developer Matt Odell, head of Lightning Labs Elizabeth Stark, and many others. Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has been ignoring invitations to participate in the marathon for a week already. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao did not get upset about that and called the founder of the Trust Wallet app Viktor Radchenko a “younger version of Elon” and passed the torch to him.

The founder of Binance received the “torch” in the amount of 3,210,000 satoshis the day before yesterday. “I could pass the torch to an OG like @SatoshiLite, but that would be boring. While @elonmusk may be busy with some less important stuff, there are a number of younger versions of ‘elon’ with true potential, @vikmeup is certainly one of them. are you ready?” as Zhao asked Radchenko about his willingness to become the next one to hold the torch. Viktor agreed and has already passed the torch to TRON founder Justin San.

This campaign aims to prove that society can use crypto payments through technologies such as the Lightning Network. The network, thanks to its structure, allows users to create two-way payment channels between two established network nodes, through which they will be able to make instant, no-fee cryptocurrency payments. Each network node initially blocks the amount allocated to the Lightning Network channel. Then, the blocked funds are processed by the channel off-chain, that is, without broadcasting to the blockchain. On the blockchain, only the fact that funds have been allocated to the open channel of the Lightning Network and the final balance of addresses after the closure of the channel are recorded. Moreover, the payment channel between the nodes can remain open indefinitely at the request of users.

Coffee and Wi-Fi with the Lightning Network

Thanks to the Lightning Network, it is possible to use cryptocurrencies, in particular, Bitcoin, in everyday life and instantly pay using digital coins at (almost) no transaction fees. DeCenter has already talked about how it is possible to buy a cup of coffee using the Lightning Network. At the end of 2017, we purchased a drink using a fee-free transfer that was completed in one second, although transactions on the regular Bitcoin network take at least 15 minutes to complete.

In early February 2019, a Spanish developer under the nickname @poberbu published on his Twitter a method of paying for Wi-Fi access via the Lightning Network (the code is open source and available on GitHub). The created plugin allows users to get limited access to a closed Wi-Fi network for a payment of 100 satoshis, or 0.000001 BTC. The developer stated that connecting the NDS portal is enough to make an LN payment and gain access to advanced features. It turns out that the Lightning Network can allow owners of routers to monetize their Wi-Fi networks.

Demand for the Lightning Network Is Growing

The use of the Lightning Network is actively expanding. For example, 1ML says the number of nodes has increased by 15% over the last month and amounted to more than 6,000. The number of channels has grown about 30%, and the total network capacity has exceeded 655 BTC.

Statistics on the use of the Lightning Network over the last month. Source.

Twitter chief Jack Dorsey, who took part in the Lightning Torch event, said on February 12 that adding Lightning Network support to the Square’s Cash App payment service is a matter of time. This program allows users to transfer money to one another using a smartphone. Cash App has become the most popular financial app on Google Play.

“We have a massive seller network of businesses [of different sizes] [...] We would love to make [Bitcoin payments] as fast and efficient and transactional as possible,” as Dorsey said on the Stephen Livera podcast Feb. 11.

The organizer of the Lightning Torch campaign and Bitcoin enthusiast @hodlonaut speaks in his comment for various crypto publications about the desire to spread Bitcoin payments. Many people, according to @hodlonaut, experience pleasure when they first make a crypto transaction on the network. “Personally, this is the most community feeling I’ve felt with bitcoin for a long time. There are so many people out there who are willing to educate each other and help people,” as the Bitcoin enthusiast said. Thanks to the spirit and earnest desire and fast transaction technologies, one can overcome any bear market and take crypto payments to the next level of development.