After seeing a number of crypto enthusiasts trying out on Twitter, I thought I’d join in the fun and see what the experience is like. I had not caved to the “peer pressure” of the buzz in the Twittersphere until I saw @jack, that is, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, testing out the service. This finally pushed me over the edge and got me to sign up.

Heading over to the website, I activated the service via my Twitter app and was signed in and set up. It can’t really get any easier than that!

Within a couple moments, I received a single satoshi tip. I’m assuming this might be some sort of automated tipping system set up to welcome in newcomers. But it could have just been a follower noticing I had joined up. If so, thanks!

A few seconds later, I received a couple more satoshis. Pretty awesome.

Now, keep in mind, a satoshi is an extremely small increment of value. You’re probably not getting rich off tips from this service. But it points to the value of Bitcoin’s Lightning network. Firstly, the transmission of satoshis costs virtually nothing. Secondly, the speed is about the same as an SMS text. You really can’t ask for more in terms of speed and value.

Now, some will say Yada Yada coin can already do this for nearly as cheap and nearly as quickly, or even just as quickly. Keep in mind, though, this is Bitcoin. This is not just “some coin”. It’s the most securely hashed cryptocurrency that is also the most widely accepted, bar none. Other coins might one day enjoy the same level of recognition, but let’s face it, for now, Bitcoin is the dominant currency.

Now, there is a potential point of concern here… for those other coins. Many, many coins have been created for the purpose of being faster and cheaper to transact than Bitcoin. The Lightning Network could very well be an existential threat to some of these other coins. After all, if you can just use Lightning, why bother with these hundreds of other currencies that are not as widely accepted?

Having said that, BTC is not the only currency that can be Lightning-compatible. A number of other currencies, like Litecoin or Vertcoin, for example, can also take on this technology.

For those of you in The New Community who are new to this stuff, the Lightning Network is one of the solutions to the scaling problem of Bitcoin’s network. Normal Bitcoin transactions are “on-chain” and take about ten minutes or longer to be confirmed. Lightning Network transactions are “off-chain”, so they run in a side channel that allows virtually instantaneous transactions for less than the cost of a single satoshi.

This has caused some disagreement amongst some in the community who adhere to the principle that transactions should remain on-chain in order to remain purely trustless and transparent. But for a few pennies or even for a few bucks worth of transactions, I wouldn’t be too worried. For larger transactions, it makes sense to stick with on-chain transactions due to some of the limitations of the Lightning Network.

Even so, the possibility of making quick, small BTC transactions is now real
with the Lightning Network. This technology opens up the possibility for future uses of the network, like casually buying a coffee or making other low-cost transactions with Lightning.

Next, I have to get around to setting up a Lightning wallet so I can participate in the ecosystem and keep the tips flowing. Should be fun.

This kind of stuff makes me feel the same way I felt the first time I played an online MMO and was amazed by the potential of a vast online world, with people participating in the experience from all over the physical world, now together in one place. It’s an experience that touches on the recognition that there is something special here, something that is moving us together into the future.

Pretty cool.