On December 6th, @Lightning Tweeted that the Lightning Network had been used to make two small purchases:
Announcing the first-ever interoperable Lightning transactions using real bitcoin with @acinq_co @blockstream! We bought a Starblocks coffee ☕️ and a https://t.co/XOnbhZMCZG article 📰. https://t.co/jJ90GHpmr5 https://t.co/Vvw7YaFxII
— Lightning (@Lightning) December 6, 2017
While the average onlooker might wonder what the “big deal” is about Bitcoin being used to buy a cup of Starbucks Coffee and a Yalls.org article, the crypto community has a reason to get excited.
Scalability and high transaction fees have long been an issue on the Bitcoin network. At times of high traffic, doing something as simple as buying a cup of coffee could take up to several hours and cost several dollars in fees alone. The Lightning Network, while still in its testing phase, could make it possible for Bitcoin transactions of any size to happen instantaneously and with low fees.
The most recent test results of the Lightning Network, which has been being developed by ACINQ, Blockstream, and Lightning Labs revealed that the software that the three startups have been working on is now interoperable. While there’s still some testing to be done, Lightning is closer to launch than it has ever been.
The transactions that paid for article and the coffee were verified by Lightning Network nodes that are operating across the globe. “It’s a very small network, but it demonstrates how the interoperability works,” said Pierre-Marie Padiou, founder of ACINQ.
“We’re Not Going to Rush”
With the network’s capabilities for interoperability now proven, “developers now know what rules to implement to build their own Lightning Networks,” according to a report from CoinDesk. The publication also noted that Blockchain’s “Thunder Network” and MIT’s “Lit” projects could both benefit from Lightning Networks based on the specifications of the one being tested right now.
Padiou told CoinDesk that the next step will be to release a beta version of the software that will give Bitcoin users the opportunity to use the Lightning Network to start making payments of their own. However, it will be some time yet before that software will be ready for public use. In order to reduce the risk of users losing their funds, the Lightning Network developers are “not going to rush anything,” according to Padiou.