The Lightning Network has been receiving a lot of good publicity and coverage recently as the network continues to show signs of advancing. This is all good news, but there is still a long way to go for the Lightning Network to really become usable.
There are a few little Lightning Network applications which provide some useful testing. One is a Texas hold ’em poker website whereby you bet in satoshis. Another more quirky example is one where you can feed chickens by sending satoshis, which releases some chicken feed. All good fun.
For the average person though, the Lightning Network is still some way off being usable. This will take time of course. User experience will be key, and the hope is that many people will end up using the Lightning Network without the need to understand or even realise they are using it. This is similar to how the internet works nowadays. Many people just use it and do not need to grasp an understanding of what it actually does.
Even for myself, Lightning remains more confusing than I would like to admit. The below tweet from Pierre Rochard may as well be written in another language. There is still a long way to go, and with the bear market lasting, there is still time. However, Lightning ideally would be ready in time for the next bull run. If not, Bitcoin is likely to once again suffer from the same scaling issues that we saw in 2017.
If you’re putting a lot of $$$ on your Lightning routing node, please use a couple of very reliable hard drives with ZFS pool mirroring (RAID 1)!
The mnemonic seed is NOT enough to recover funds from channels if something goes horribly wrong, you’ll need the latest chan state.
— Pierre Rochard [⚡️] (@pierre_rochard) February 20, 2019
Ironically, the most exciting development for many is the Tippin feature that has recently been hyped up by Jack Dorsey. Tipping in cryptocurrencies has been around for a while, and Bitcoin Cash was derided last year for introducing it onto their coin. The reason it was derided was that it was an old BTC feature that no one really used that much after the initial interest. Now though, everyone is excited again because it is on Lightning. Funny how the world works.
Whilst there are fun and interesting uses for the Lightning Network, there is still many months of hard work left to go until it can become a usable and helpful piece of kit.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author should not be considered as financial advice. We do not give advice on financial products.