With my previous article focused on getting an LND node running on an Android Phone, I wanted to take a step back. My thought process was trying to create something a newbie user might get something out of. The focus of this will be a four part series that will seek to make it as easy to onboard users to the Lighting Network. Each article in the series will get more technical, starting with using a custodial LN wallet.

One of the central parts of the series will be about usability and not the flat novelty of using Bitcoin/LN. It is my hope that this series will serve as a launching point for a podcast that will launch within the next month.

Keep in mind that I will be using “LN” shorten “Lightning Network” going forward.

What is the Lightning Network?

Being new to using Bitcoin/LN should begin with a quick rundown of what LN is and why it is a relevant technology. LN is a way to abstract transactions away from the base Bitcoin blockchain onto a second layer. It does this using payment channels and a technology called HTLCs. This allows for a large amount of transactions to occur without needing to write to the Bitcoin blockchain. There are some advantages to using LN:

  • Microtransactions — Doing small transactions on the base Bitcoin blockchain can become cost prohibitive. LN allows you to do single satoshi transactions so this opens up different possible use cases that wouldn’t be possible on Bitcoin itself.
  • Instant Settlement — The settlement time for transactions on LN are near instant. This allows you to pay for something without having to worry about confirmation time or transaction fees in the same way as Bitcoin.
  • Cheaper Transactions — Most transactions on LN only need a single satoshi transaction fee. Some LN nodes may charge more for convenience and might start to approach current on-chain fees.
  • Better UX — Without confirmations and a fee market on LN, it is easier for an end user to know if their payment is accepted right away. This prevents the need for support tickets and long waits for users who don’t understand what is going on.

The “Onboarding to LN” Series:

Part I: Getting started with a Custodial Wallet/Usability of LN

Part II: Non-Custodial Wallets

Part III: Non-custodial wallet with Channel Management

Part IV: Hosting your own LND node using BTCPay Server