Kvě 18

These 13 Bitcoin Lightning Network Upgrades Will Solve Its ‘Biggest’ Hurdles

The Bitcoin Lightning Network will overcome some of its “biggest hurdles to use” in the near future as new features roll out from developers.


From Experiment To Bitcoin Killer App

That was according to Guy Swann, the presenter of the Cryptoconomy podcast, who this week dedicated two episodes to introducing Lightning and analyzing its upcoming changes.

As Bitcoinist has frequently reported over the past year, Lightning represents the ‘next level’ of payments using Bitcoin, and is widely considered to be the way in which the largest cryptocurrency will scale up to meet the needs of billions of future users.

Readers can find more information on the protocol, which debuted on the Bitcoin mainnet at the start of 2018, here.

Looking forward, Swann presented a list of no fewer than thirteen upcoming improvements to Lightning which he says will boost its mainstream appeal.

The basis for the list came from a blog post by Bitcoin business Bitrefill, which offers a range of products and services payable using Lightning.

Top on the list for Swann was Atomic Multipath Payments (AMPs) – or breaking a single payment down into several smaller ones, and sending them over multiple Lightning channels.

“Payments become much more reliable, no longer limited to 1 channel capacity,” he summarized.

[AMP] Removes the biggest (in my opinion) hurdles to payment issues, single channel capacity & liquidity.

Swann is by no means alone in being concerned about those aspects of using the network. As Bitcoinist reported last year, despite its rapid growth, the vast majority of Lightning payments worth more than several US cents failed.

Not Just Lightning Atomic Swaps

Due mostly to its age, Lightning remains a highly-technical tool which lacks a user-friendly interface. Developers are still working on making its base layer suitably robust, themselves stressing the fledgling ecosystem is still an experiment.

Activity is gathering pace, however, and soon for example, Lightning will offer not just major efficiency gains for Bitcoin users, but those of other coins at the same time – via Atomic Swaps.

“Channels don’t have to only send (Bitcoin). Any blockchain… with (Lightning) can connect payments across blockchains. Useful for decentralized swapping of coins, & sending bitcoins to pay invoices in multiple cryptocurrencies,” Swann explained.

Other improvements focus on more specific weak areas in the current Lightning setup. The full list is as follows:

  • Atomic Multipath Payments (AMPs)
  • Atomic Swaps
  • Channel Factories
  • Dual-Funded Channels
  • Eltoo
  • Neutrino
  • Rendezvous Routing
  • Sphinx
  • Splicing
  • Submarine Swaps
  • Trampoline Payments
  • Turbo Channels
  • Watchtowers

As Bitcoinist reported, despite its technical level, Lightning gained significant publicity in 2019 thanks mainly to a public outreach project by Bitcoin user Hodlonaut.

A form of transaction relay, the project, Lightning Torch, raised money for the plight of Venezuela’s citizens using Bitcoin, ultimately seeing participation from well-known figures both within and outside the cryptocurrency industry.

What do you think about the Lightning Network? Let us know in the comments below!


Images via Shutterstock

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Dub 08

Bitcoin Goes Mainstream As Miss Universe Receives Lightning Torch

Bitcoin adoption took a step in a new direction this weekend after a former Miss Universe contestant joined the Lightning Torch transaction relay.


Rosa-Maria Ryyti HODLs Lightning Torch

In what appears to be an unexpected choice, Jeremias Kangas, founder of P2P trading platform Localbitcoins, opted to pass the Torch outside the cryptocurrency community – to Miss Universe Finland 2015, Rosa-Maria Ryyti.

Lightning Torch began in January this year as a stress test for Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, a solution which will allow Bitcoin to scale up to meet the needs of mass adoption.

While Lightning itself has only existed on the Bitcoin mainnet for around 15 months, the Torch has demonstrated the network’s resilience, with various high-profile figures becoming involved.

The relay works by nodes on the network accepting, adding the Torch transaction and adding a nominal amount of bitcoin, currently 10,000 satoshis, before passing it forward.

So far, the Torch has had around 275 owners, with Ryyti opting to hand it to Colombian Bitcoin guru BTC Andres. In total, there will only be enough ownership spots for the sum of the transaction to reach 5 million satoshis.

“I was honored to receive the torch from pioneer Jeremias Kangas and now there are only 8 places left,” she told her 35,000 Instagram followers.

The funds raised will be donated to Bitcoin Venezuela.

Ryyti also set up an account on Tippin.me, the Lightning-enabled tips service used in Lightning Torch.

Bigger And Bigger

Ryyti’s advocacy of Bitcoin predictably struck a chord with the cryptocurrency community. On social media, the model gained considerable acclaim, despite a conspicuous lack of feedback from non-crypto followers from Instagram.

The event is not the first time the Torch has ventured outside of crypto, with perhaps its other outing also becoming its best-known when Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey took over in February.

Jack Dorsey Joe Rogan Podcast JRE

As Bitcoinist reported, his custody was more than a token gesture, Dorsey subsequently pledging to integrate Lightning in both Twitter and his payments startup Square. The latter is currently hiring developers for its dedicated venture, dubbed Square Crypto.

BTC Andres meanwhile held the Torch for only a short time before passing it elsewhere among the South American Bitcoin community.

Currently, the invoice lies with DJ Booth, creator of Lightning-enabled Bitcoin crowdfunding platform Tallycoin, where Torch creator Hodlonaut is currently raising funds for the plight of Venezuelans.

According to monitoring resource 1ML.com, Bitcoin mainnet Lightning currently has 7876 nodes, over 39,000 channels and a total capacity of 1080 BTC. The figures represent monthly growth of 9.8 percent, 14.7 percent, and 40 percent, respectively.

Last week, a dedicated exchange appeared in the form of Bolt, which aims to allow Lightning-based trades between Litecoin and Bitcoin using a technology known as cross-chain atomic swaps

What do you think about Miss Universe Finland 2015 participating in the Lightning Torch? Let us know in the comments below!


Images via Shutterstock, Bitcoinist archives, Instagram

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Bře 31

Making ATM Bitcoin Payments via Lightning Network Is Becoming a Reality

Developer and researcher Felix Weis successfully executed, as a proof-of-concept, the world’s first ATM Bitcoin transaction on the Lightning Network.


World’s First Lightning-enabled Bitcoin ATM ‘Worked Fine’

On March 31, 2019, Weis publicly demonstrated a transaction via Lightning Network at a bitcoin ATM, during the Lightning Hackday, in Hong Kong, as shown in the video below.

Later, Weis described the transaction as:

Just a proof of concept ‘top up your existing channel.’ Lots of bugs but two different mobile wallets worked fine.

Bitcoin Lightning Network Capacity Rises Over 1,000 BTC

The crypto industry is becoming increasingly enthusiastic about the Lightning Network because it offers to drastically lower BTC’s transaction fees while making it possible to execute near-instant transactions.

Moreover, the demonstration of making ATM Bitcoin payments over the Lightning Network comes when Weiss Crypto Ratings has just upgraded Bitcoin from a “C-” to a “B-” (good) because its technology had dramatically improved.

Weiss highlighted these conclusions in a comprehensive report on the crypto market entitled “Dark Shadows with a Bright Future, ” published in March 2019.

Specifically, the Weiss evaluation considered four factors: adoption rate, technology, risk, and reward. And, it highlighted the effect of the advent of the Lightning Network in the upgrade, as follows,

Bitcoin has been upgraded with the roll-out of its Lightning Network and is the best positioned to become a popular store of value for savers and investors.

The Lightning Network is a decentralized system where participants can implement trustless micropayment channels to perform one or multiple payment transactions off-blockchain.

These channels reside off the Bitcoin blockchain. Transactions occur between these channels. Upon completion, transactions are transmitted, as a single transaction, to the blockchain. Then, the payment channel is closed, and transactions are transcribed onto the blockchain.

Therefore, regardless of the number of transactions performed, the BTC blockchain is accessed twice, at the opening of the channel and the closing of the channel.

The implementation of Lightning Network nodes continues to gain momentum. As of this writing, according to 1ML, a Lightning Network monitoring website, the network now boasts 7,744 nodes and 39,129 channels. And the network capacity reaches over 1,059 BTC.

Will Bitcoin ATMs use Lightning Network to cut costs in the future? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of  via Twitter/@bitcoinorghk, Weiss Crypto Ratings, Shutterstock

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Bře 04

Bitcoin Can’t Be Stopped By Politics – Lightning ‘Torch’ Goes From Iran to Israel

The Lightning Network ‘torch’ payment has reached Israel after it was sent by an Iranian in a symbolic gesture of peace between the two nations. The historic occasion proves that Bitcoin is truly an apolitical and borderless money technology.


#LNTrustChain Keeps Growing

As reported previously by Bitcoinist, concerns over censorship didn’t stop the #LNTrutChain, otherwise known as the ‘Lightning Torch,’ from being sent to a user based in Iran.

Ziya Sadr, a Coinex executive, gained support from the community to receive the torch after Peach Inc. senior software engineer Vijay Boyapati claimed political factors prevented him from involving him.

Sadr then passed the Lightning Network (LN) payment to another Iranian and founder of Bushido Labs, Sam Abassi, who took advantage of the opportunity to showcase Bitcoin’s political neutrality and censorship-resistance.

Now, the 229th recipient of the torch becomes the Tel Aviv-based Bitcoin Embassy in Israel, who commented:

We received the #LNTrustChain torch!  The torch went from Iran to @samabbassi, an Iranian living abroad, and then to us in Tel Aviv! We’re very proud to be a part of this historic moment  Reply with your invoices and let’s get this torch on the move again!

Bitcoin is Borderless: Palestine Next?

The so-called ‘Lightning Torch’ involves Bitcoin users passing around a transaction on the Lightning Network, adding funds and sending it forward. The current amount has grown to about 3,730,000 satoshis or about $144 USD.

The initiative, started by Twitter user @Hodlonaut, has gained significant interest since it began its journey in January. It has been relayed by such notable entities as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Fidelity Investments.

Online commentators meanwhile celebrated the occasion praising the apolitical and borderless money technology that is Bitcoin.

“Bitcoin cannot be stopped by sanctions or bureaucrats,” commented Atlantic Financial CEO, Bruce Fenton, on Twitter, adding:

Users drive Bitcoin, not central authorities. The future is here.

User Fontaine also added:

Bitcoin unites us all and that is the best thing about it! Would be great to see @BitcoinemBassy send the torch to a Palestinian

Lightning Network is Growing Rapidly

The milestone comes as Bitcoin’s second-layer Lightning Network has been growing exponentially, particularly in the past few months. Data from monitoring resource 1ML.com shows that overall capacity increased almost 20 percent last month alone, while the number of nodes is nearing 7,000.

The instant and near-zero fee transactions over the Lightning Network also go far beyond simply payments.

Last week, Blockstream had used its Lightning Satellite setup to broadcast the world’s first ‘space meme.’ While other use-cases include everything from online roulettes to a remote chicken feeder. In fact, many new Lighting Applications or ‘LApps’ have started to emerge for such as for online tipping and buying pizza, a payment that can be sent for a fee of less than one cent.

Yesterday, Bitcoinist reported that major US retailer Kroger is now also considering accepting Lightning Network payments after abandoning Visa credit cards due to high merchant fees.

While a long shot, LN has actually been found to be a few seconds slower than the best (centralized) digital payment solutions on the market such as Apple Pay, according to a recent study. What’s more, it is actually “days faster” when it comes to onboarding merchants, according to researcher JP Thor.

Do you want the LN torch to go to Palestine next? Let us know below!!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Úno 25

‘Very Sad’: Lightning Torch Creator Laments Exclusion of Iranian Bitcoin User

The Lightning Network (LN) faced unusual censorship allegations this weekend after it emerged a participant in the Lightning Torch event refused to include a member from Iran.


Sending Transaction To Iran ‘Very Difficult’

In a debacle which continues to unfold on social media, Coinex executive Ziya Sadr confirmed Peach Inc. senior software engineer Vijay Boyapati declined his request to be involved.

Lightning Torch is a transaction relay in which users join or use LN to receive and contribute to a single Bitcoin (BTC) payment.

Similar to the Olympic Flame, the Torch has gained considerable publicity since it began in January, involving the likes of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Blockstream CEO Adam Back.

iran

As a US resident, however, Boyapati expressed concern that ‘sending’ the Torch – which in reality involves sending a payment – to Sadr would draw the attention of authorities. Iran is currently subject to a host of new US economic sanctions.

“I really really REALLY wanted to send it to (Sadr) but US law makes it very risky for me as a citizen,” he claimed.

Very sad that two peaceful people cannot transact with each other across the world because of the state.

Bitcoin Doesn’t Care?

Sadr responded by avoiding calls to label Boyapati a “moron” for his decision, only confirming the legitimacy of the events.

The Twitter user known as hodlonaut, who started Lightning Torch, described Sadr’s predicament as “very sad.”

The Torch currently resides with Adam Back as of press time Monday. He joined the list of holders behind Charlie Shrem and major US broker Fidelity, which accepted it last week.

Lightning itself continues to grow, with momentum building to take the network’s overall capacity to an all-time high of almost 725 BTC ($2.74 million). The size of the Lightning Torch transaction, by contrast, is 3.6 million satoshis ($137.13).

What do you think about Vijay Boyapati’s decision? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Úno 22

Cluck the Banks: Bitcoin Lightning Network Powers Remote Chicken Feeder

A new and decidedly niche consumer product for Bitcoin’s Lightning Network has launched, allowing anyone to use the payment protocol… to feed chickens.


A Different Breed Of Blockchain Supply Chain

Currently circulating on social media, Pollofeed.com facilitates automated feeding of the birds, powered by Bitcoin Lightning Network payments.

“Pollo Feed is a automated chicken feeder powered by bitcoin lighting payments,” the service’s description reads.

Users use the website to generate a payment invoice and send funds. After, Pollo Feed automatically dispenses a small amount of feed to a chicken in an enclosure in a hitherto unknown location.

The chicken is visible via a stream from within the enclosure, and developers promise that each successful payment will result in video evidence of receipt.

There is as yet no data concerning how many times the chickens have profited from Bitcoiners’ generosity, or exactly how automated the setup is.

Doing More With Lightning

Despite its relatively small appeal as a tool, the reaction to Pollo Feed further demonstrates the rapidly increasing mainstream popularity of Lightning, which just months ago remained all but unknown beyond technical circles and enthusiasts.

As Bitcoinist reported, multiple new services designed to make using the network easy and attractive for the lay consumer have launched this year alone.

In February, these included Lightning Pizza, delivering Domino’s to any US resident and soon elsewhere, and Tippin.me expanding Bitcoin micropayments to Twitter users.

Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, further stated that it was a case of “not ‘if’ but ‘when’” regarding Bitcoin Lightning implementation in his own payment network Square.

Lightning continues growing hit new records on a daily basis, with currently capacity topping 715 BTC ($2.8 million) according to monitoring resource 1ML.com.

What do you think about Pollo Feed? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, pollofeed.com

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Led 28

Top Bitcoin Lightning Apps You Can Use Today (Part 2)

So we continue our journey into the wonderful (and sometimes weird) world of Lightning Apps (LApps). And as a testament to how far the market has come, my quick ‘listicle’ has morphed into a two-part behemoth.


If you haven’t already, then check out Part 1, covering wallets, marketplaces, content monetization, and tip jars. If you have, then let’s get on with the ride.

Messaging via Lightning Network

International SMS messages cost a small fortune, but with Insms, the price comes down to that of a small lightning transaction. Ideal for anonymously stalking someone in another country. Or, if you need to receive an SMS, but don’t want to reveal your mobile number, Receive SMS has you covered. Temporary numbers to receive messages are currently available only in the US, with more countries coming soon.

But if you think terrestrial messaging is just a little passé, why not send a message via satellite.

Gaming and Gambling

Hammerland is a MineCraft lookalike MMORPG, using lightning for in-game payments (and rewards). Or if you prefer your MineCraft to be more… MineCraft, then BitQuest is the first MineCraft server denominated in cryptocurrency.

For those who prefer to expound less effort to gain (or lose) their bitcoin, there are a wealth of ways to gamble away your money with Lightning. Lightning Spin is a simple ‘wheel of fortune’-type game where sending an LN payment feels like you’re putting in a quarter into an arcade.

Meanwhile, Lightning Roulette is… well, a full-blown game of roulette.

Alternatively, depending on your preference, you can bet on Three-Card Monte. Although sadly the implementation of Thunder Dice, no longer seems to be active.

Setting Up Shop

There are several ways of accepting Lightning payments at your online store. Strike is one of the best and easiest to use, taking a flat 1% fee on all transactions, and offering unlimited free daily withdrawals.

Or if your establishment is a bit less virtual, and almost entirely more ‘brick and mortar’, then you can use nanopos. This simple Lightning Point-of-Sale system works best with stores selling fixed-price items, although it also offers a custom price option. So your customers can now use LN payments to buy coffee, beanies, a hat-stand, comedy tickets, ticker tape, audio cassettes, hearing aids, condoms…

Speaking of random stuff.

Random Stuff

Unleash your inner artist (or just scrawl obscenities on somebody else’s artwork) at Satoshi’s Place, where you can endlessly paint over as many pixels as you can pay for.

Buy a virtual coffee at StarBlocks; Listen to music on Lightning Jukebox; Set up a Twitter-bot to get paid for likes, retweets, and follows.

Or just exchange your cryptocurrencies in seconds for low fees at Shapeshift-esque ZigZag, and hunker down behind TorGuard‘s VPN.

Oh… then wait to see what amazing abilities LApps bring us in the future.

What other Lapps have you tried? Share your experiences below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Led 12

Lightning Network Without Invoices Brings Us Closer to Streaming Money

A new feature for Bitcoin’s Lightning Network (LN) implementation allows users to send funds instantly without needing to first create an invoice.


Sphinx Enables ‘New Use Cases’

The latest upgrade, ‘Sphinx,’ which developers describe as being a “work in progress,” is nonetheless already available to anyone.

“The coolest part about this new feature is that it can be used today in the wild as long as both nodes are updated to this branch!” author Olaoluwa Osuntokun wrote in a Github repository dedicated to the project.

The Lightning Network is a protocol currently active for Bitcoin and Litecoin which allows users to send tokens instantly and for a fee averaging less than 1 US cent.

The technology debuted on the Bitcoin network a year ago, and has grown rapidly, but remains in an experimental state as developers iron out stability and reliability issues.

At present, sending or receiving a transaction still requires some technical understanding, which has made Lightning an unattractive option for entry-level users despite its time and cost benefits.

Lightning’s ‘Best’ Feature Yet?

Sphinx, which Osuntokun says “allows users to start exploring a new set of use cases,” aims to solve that predicament.

It removes the need to create a payment invoice for a transaction, allowing more “spontaneous” activity and sidelining a major technical element potentially off-putting for novices.

“This is only a draft implementation and while it works today on mainnet out of the box (if both sides are upgraded) much this will likely change,” he added.

Sphinx caps a frenetic development period for LN which continued throughout 2018. Despite fluctuations, capacity, node and channel numbers have all reached new highs in recent weeks.

According to data from monitoring resource 1ML, Bitcoin Lightning’s capacity is now 571 BTC ($2,076,000) among 5234 nodes and 19,500 channels.

Sphinx meanwhile has already begun to see a warm reception, commentators variously saying it had attracted them to start using Lightning and that it was now the network’s “best” feature.

What do you think about the Lightning Network’s Sphinx? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Led 03

MIT: Blockchains Will Become ‘Boring’ in 2019

‘Boring’ isn’t usually a word associated with blockchains. However, according to a recent article by MIT Technology Review, that’s exactly what they will become this year — as well as more useful.


You don’t have to be a crypto veteran to know that this industry is famously volatile. The highs and (mostly) lows of recent months are characteristic of the crypto space. An 80 percent drop in value from one year to the next is par for the course in this 10-year-old space. 80 percent increases in one month can also happen, just look at Ethereum.

Dangerous, volatile, unstable, speculative–these are all words you expect to hear when you mention cryptocurrency, but ‘boring’ doesn’t usually appear. And yet, according to MIT, that’s exactly what will happen in 2019:

In 2017, blockchain technology was a revolution that was supposed to disrupt the global financial system. In 2018, it was a disappointment. In 2019, it will start to become mundane.

2018 Was a Year of Disappointment – And Progress

While the focus for many has been on price throughout 2017 and 2018, a large chunk of the blockchain community has been getting on with business as usual. Yes, some of the magic may have left the blockchain space. That’s only natural after so much over-promising and marketing hype.

However, this year will see many excellent projects making good on their promises and delivering what they proposed in their ICOs. 2018 may not have been the best year for prices, but blockchain technology has seen more innovation than any other year.

If you need evidence of that, look no further than the progress the Lightning Network has made in this image below.

Institutions and Big Business Are Getting In

According to the MIT article, if you want a sign that blockchains will finally start to bear fruit this year, look no further than the fact the both Walmart and Wall Street are getting in on the game.

Walmart has been testing a private blockchain system for years and seeing success tracking foods around the world in the supply chain. In 2019, the global giant will make this system mandatory for its leafy green vegetable suppliers to join by Q3.

Moreover, despite the cryptocurrency market displaying worrying lows and losses in 2018, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange, ICE, is bringing Bakkt to the market in early 2019 after an incredible first round of funding.

Bakkt just raised a sensational $182.5 million from big-name investors like Microsoft, Pantera Capital, and BCG.

Fidelity is also throwing its hat into the ring with a custody service for crypto assets called Fidelity Digital Assets. Whatever the outcome of Bakkt, Fidelity, and crypto this year, blockchain technology is being taken extremely seriously by institutions.

Smart Contracts to Be Used for Real-World Issues

Ever since smart contracts came about, their potential for real-world use has been undeniable. But alongside that, the potential for great damage is also high. There are still many bugs in smart contracts that have to lead to huge losses in funds such as the Parity Wallet loophole.

However, smart contract technology has been improving and several companies will be showcasing smart contracts in the real world this year.

why use blockchain

The problem of “garbage in garbage out” (or in technical terms, having a trustworthy source of data in the form of an “oracle”) has been solved by companies like Chainlink launching the first, “provably secure, decentralized oracle network” ensuring the data is trustworthy using cryptography.

We can expect to see smart contracts used in the legal field and at basic contract completion level this year. There’s even the possibility of state-backed cryptocurrencies as eluded to by Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, as a way of accelerating financial inclusion.

It’s unlikely that FedCoin will happen next year. In fact, it’s rather unlikely that it will happen at all when you consider that adding a central authority to cryptocurrencies rather defies the point in the first place.

But with all the new projects launching in 2019–actual working solutions and not just ideas–real institutional funds and backing, blockchains may be getting boring but they are certainly going to start being useful.

Do you agree with MIT’s prediction? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Led 01

Bluewallet Lets You Send Bitcoin Lightning Payments from Your iPhone

Bluewallet appears to be setting the bar for the next generation of Bitcoin wallets. Available for both Android and iOS, it is the first to integrate the Lightning Network (LN) for super-quick and “unfairly cheap” transactions.


First Bitcoin Lightning Wallet on iOS

It should be mentioned that this review is largely aimed at users who are either not tech-savvy enough or don’t have have the time or both (like me) to set up their own Lightning nodes.

I’ve used a few iOS Bitcoin wallet apps over the years and all of these have their pros and cons. However, as far as simplicity, ease-of-use, and security are concerned, I can confidently say that Bluewallet is the best iOS Bitcoin wallet app I ever used. 

It combines the latest Bitcoin technology (SegWit, LN, Replace-by-fee etc.) with some nifty security features (plausible deniability) alongside the simplest user experience to date.

Note: Bluewallet did not pay me for this review and never contacted me.

I recently found out about this app, which was launched in early December, on Twitter. The wallet caught my attention since this is the first open-source Bitcoin wallet for iOS that supports Lightning Network so I decided to check it out.

As far as I can tell, it is the first wallet that allows you to:

  • Refill the LN wallet with an on-chain transaction without closing/opening a new one
  • Backup (export) the LN wallet with a QR code/URL
  • Use the same LN wallet across multiple devices

It should also be mentioned that while you control the BTC wallet’s private keys, the LN part is custodial by default running Bluewallet’s LNHUB+LND. But, if you already have your own LND node, you can run LNHUB software yourself (it’s open-source) by entering your URL in the Lightning wallet settings.

Not Many Options for iOS

Just like many other people, my first ever Bitcoin wallet experience was with Blockchain wallet in 2014. It was one of the first Bitcoin wallets available for both Android and iOS mobile platforms.

Currently, I’ve been using Edge wallet (formerly known as Airbitz) for the sole reasons that it is ‘secure’ (you control the private keys) and one of the few that supports SegWit (cheaper transactions) along with many altcoins like Monero and Ethereum.

While I believe Edge is one of the best wallets available for iOS today, I miss the watch-only address feature that Blockchain wallet always had — so there were always tradeoffs.

Watch-only addresses let you — as the name implies — only see the balance of your cold-storage wallets. So even if your Ledger Nano S is buried in a nuclear bunker, you could still safely monitor its balance from afar.

However, security should be paramount to every Bitcoin user. Thus, controlling your own private keys is a must and since there weren’t a lot of options for iOS – Edge wallet it was. (I’ve also tried the popular BRD wallet but I wasn’t a fan).

Blown Away By Simplicity

Setting up a wallet in Bluewallet took less than 20 seconds and you have a choice between a regular HD (hierarchical deterministic) wallet or SegWit. You can also import an existing wallet using your seed.

Done. Creating the Lightning wallet is just as quick.

You then have an option to encrypt (recommended) your wallet’s privet keys with a single password. This makes the experience similar to signing up for a new Gmail account — which makes the entire process very easy and familiar, particularly for those new to Bitcoin.

There’s also a genius feature against $5 wrench attacks called Plausible Deniability.

Next, you’ll need some coin to play with. So refill your Bluewallet by sending an on-chain transaction with some BTC from another wallet. If you don’t have any — it’s possible to buy bitcoin (from Changelly) right from the Options menu.

The whole interface is the cleanest and most intuitive I’ve used to date. The wallet also lets you set a custom transaction fee when sending bitcoin.

Replace-by-fee is another useful feature. If you ever set a fee that is too low — you now have the option to set a higher fee (after you already clicked ‘send’) and speed up the transaction. 

Lightning Network Works But…

So I sent about $4 to my new BTC wallet. About 20 minutes lates after all the confirmations (at least 2), I sent about a few bucks in bitcoin to ‘refill’ my new Lightning address.

Bluewallet notes that your LN wallet is intended for day-to-day transactions because they’re faster and “unfairly cheap.”

After about five confirmations, the LN wallet had satoshis in it and was ready to strike. However, since only one LN wallet can be set up in the app (for now), it was impossible for me to try sending sats back and forth within the app.

So I told my friend to try it. Unfortunately, the LN wallet doesn’t yet support receiving (invoicing) lightning payments yet, so we were unable to send any Satoshis between each other.

Luckily, I did manage to send an LN payment of six cents to read a full article on Yalls.org. This went through instantly and without a problem as clicking ‘check payment’ on Yalls immediately showed that the payment has been sent.

A Glimpse into the Future of LN Payments

Using this wallet gives a glimpse into the future of paying with Bitcoin as LN grows and all the software issues are ironed out. Once LN payments will become seamless, using it should become second nature as transactions are literally instant at almost zero cost.

This should provide a great solution for merchants and in-store payments (e.g. Starbucks) as it eliminates the problem of having to wait for on-chain confirmations – a common criticism of using Bitcoin at brick-n-mortar locations.

Moreover, legacy digital payments (credit cards, Venmo etc.) are already instant and ‘cheap’ for users so the breakthrough will not come from speed. However, LN is not only “unfairly cheap” but also allows sending less than a satoshi – the smallest unit in Bitcoin. This means users are already sending tiny fractions of a penny, as recently reported by Bitcoinist.

Therefore, I believe, this technology will create new opportunities for online micro-payments and monetization of digital content, which could be a game-changer in the Information Age. In the meantime, however, this wallet will make it possible to ride a Lightning scooter.

Or maybe a Lightning beer?

Shortfalls

There are admittedly some shortfalls with Bluewallet. Though most of these gaps are expected to be filled later.

For example, the biggest problem right now is the inability to receive LN payments and make withdrawals from the LN wallet back to the BTC wallet. Therefore, you should only test the LN wallet with a small sum since you will not be able to get the satoshis back to your on-chain Bitcoin wallet (for now).

Software developer Irek Zielinski explains that upcoming versions of Bluewallet will support invoicing, which means bidirectional LN transactions.

Another issue is the lack of PIN or Touch-ID/Face-ID support. Though understandably, a lack of PIN code make it easier to use for the average joe, I’d like to at least have the option to set up a PIN code for accessing the app or some kind of 2-factor authentication for extra security.

Other features in the pipeline include:

  • Batch TX – the ability to pay multiple addresses with a single transaction, saving on fees and optimizing blockspace usage.
  • MultiSig TX – enhanced security as each transaction requires M of N signatures (with keys stored on different physical devices with BlueWallet).
  • Plugging in your Bitcoin Core node for “maximum sovereignty.”

These additions should make Bluewallet, hand down, the best wallet for both iOS and Android users and Bitcoin businesses, in particular. In whole, this is a great wallet if you’re looking to have the latest security features, ease-of-use, Lightning payments, and tired of waiting for Samourai Wallet to be released for iOS.

Have you tried Bluewallet? Share your experience below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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