Bitcoin's Open Secret: Lightning Is Making Better Online Payments Possible

Published on by Coindesk | Published on

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The idea may now be coming back in vogue - apps being built on the layer-two technology lightning network, which this year entered beta, already showcase transactions traditional payments systems just can't do.

The application that's getting the most attention is the ridiculously small digital payments lightning makes possible for the first time.

Lightning's ability to make the dream of bitcoin outpacing the traditional, centralized payment giants a reality is spawning all sorts of experimentation to demonstrate how these new small payments can be applied to apps in other ways.

"With Paypal, you couldn't really send an amount as low as 1,000 satoshis - or $0.06 - because their fee is higher than that," Rui Gomes, a developer at Lightning Spin, an online gambling app running on the lightning network, told CoinDesk.

Lightning Spin also showcases how the lightning network can enable faster payments.

Knezic's recent contribution to lightning development is a candy dispenser that spills out M&Ms when sent a lightning payment.

While that's probably not lightning's "Killer app," what has taken hold among lightning users is a digital artboard.

Called Satoshi's Place, the application allows users to send a small lightning payment to purchase and paint single pixels on an online canvas.

One of the most ambitious early lightning adopters is the AI imaging company CloudSight, whose CEO believes lightning will pave the way for allowing autonomous machines to make small, instant payments to one another.

The company recently began accepting lightning payments for customers who want to use their AI API. Customers send images to the API, which spits out a caption generated by an AI. "This new tool can now enable advanced value interactions for an exchange of information that was previously impossible," Folkens said.