Lightning Network users can now receive funds from other users without the need to first create Lightning invoices.
This new feature will allow users to create spontaneous Lightning payments and may also allow users to start ‘streaming money’ directly through the Layer 2 scaling solution for the Bitcoin blockchain.
What has been released?
The update was released as a new GitHub commit for the LND Lightning implementation. The pull request was submitted by Olaoluwa Osuntokun, the CTO of Lightning Labs.
As part of the release, Olaoluwa (also known in the community by his nickname roasbeef) said that the new feature will give “the ability to send a payment to a destination without first needing to have an invoice.”
This will allow users to start exploring a new set of use cases that can benefit from this type of spontaneous payment. Roasbeef went on to say that this “payment can also carry additional application-specific data such as an account ID, API, and calls.”
How the Lightning Network currently receives payments
At the moment, to receive funds on the Lightning Network, a user needs to create a specific payment request that includes a specific amount to be paid. After these invoices have been created, the user has a specific amount of time to make the payment.
The amount of time is set by the wallet, and the reason for the time limit is due to the need to create (and keep open) a specific payment channel that can be fulfilled for the Lightning payment to be completed.
The new feature will remove the need to create a payment invoice for each transaction. This should allow more “spontaneous” activity and sidelines a major technical element that could be potentially off-putting for novices.
If you want to try out some payments yourself, Coin Rivet recently brought you the news of the Blue Wallet app adding functionality to receive Lightning payments (via the creation of Lightning invoices). On release, the mobile wallet only had the ability to send Lightning payments.
“This is only a draft implementation, and while it works today on mainnet out of the box (if both sides are upgraded), much of this will likely change,” said Olaoluwa.
According to the latest data from monitoring resource 1ML, Bitcoin’s Lightning capacity is now at 575 BTC ($2,050,000) among 5,376 nodes and 19,800 channels. This rate of growth has not slowed down since the end of 2018, when we saw the Layer 2 payment network starting to get some serious traction.
Roasbeef concluded his GitHub commit by stating: “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!”