When I think of Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, I think of Darth Maul, his double-bladed lightsaber and his battle with Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi. I was 9 years old when that movie came out. The battle was so exhilarating and visually stunning. The scene was brilliantly choreographed as all the attack moves and acrobatic stunts flowed so smoothly. Bitcoin’s Lightning Network is a protocol that has similar, remarkable properties.
Lighting is a second layer solution that enables instantaneous, virtually free micropayments. For years since Bitcoin’s inception in 2009, people worried that “Bitcoin can’t scale.” That “fees are too high” and “transactions are too slow.” Some proclaimed things like, “How can Bitcoin be money, when I can’t even buy a coffee with it?” All of these concerns were dissolved with the creation of the Lightning Network. After downloading a basic lightning wallet to your phone like Muun or Wallet of Satoshi (no identity verification required), you have the power to send and receive bitcoin payments of any reasonable size. By wielding just a cell phone, you have more control over your own money than a banker has over everyone else’s.
Witnessing this ability first hand was just as breathtaking as watching a lightsaber battle for the first time. The entire world is waking up to the Lightning Network. Lightning capacity is growing rapidly, and it surpassed 4000 BTC (currently close to $100 million) this month, more than doubling year over year. Users can run Lighting Nodes by setting up channels to route Bitcoin transactions and earn fees for doing so. I’ve been running a lightning node with Umbrel for a few months now, and it’s a lot of fun! I store the entire blockchain on my node and can verify my own transactions. This is so empowering! But Lightning isn’t just for me and you. Because of Lightning, a Bitcoin circular economy has emerged in countries all over the world including El Salvador, Haiti, Cuba, Palestine and Nigeria.