I Went To A Bitcoin Meetup. Here’s What I Learned.
Last week I went to a Bitcoin meetup.
Traveling from out of town, I showed up a bit late. Traffic and all. Okay, traffic wasn’t bad, but I did lose track of time in an outlet mall while supercharging. When I finally showed up to the brewery where the meetup was, everyone was bright eyed, super nice, and welcoming, even though I was late and interrupted someone mid-story.
The topic was the Oshi app, which facilitates Bitcoin payments to merchants. I’ve been interested in Zcash payments for the last 5 years, but I know very little about the state of Bitcoin payments. In fact, last I checked a few years ago, BTC payments were slow, expensive, and not private, which is why, in my search for electronic cash, I landed on Zcash.
But here’s what I learned. I learned that lightning network has come a long ways.
My take on Oshi app is it provides nice incentives to spearhead lightning network adoption. Merchants get visibility on the Oshi merchant map. They can reach new customers. Anyone can earn referral fees in perpetuity for signing up merchants. Users compete with each other on a ranked leaderboard.
Oshi could succeed or fail, I don’t know. But the lightning network itself, which Oshi uses, is powerful. It is built for payments. Here’s why.
- Privacy. Lightning payments are done on a network of off-chain nodes. There is no lightning block explorer, and transaction details are not visible to the whole world.
- Speed. Lightning payments are what they sound like. Fast. Someone in the group mentioned they use Muun wallet. Muun is self custodial, with keys encrypted on the device. No sync time, it just worked immediately. Sending a transaction was instantly received, similar to a 0 confirmation time in Zcash.
- Transaction cost. The first lightning transaction I sent cost 6 cents in transaction fees. Not as low as the fraction of a penny for a Zcash transaction, but 6 cents is totally reasonable, and better than a $50 BTC transaction fee I remember paying in 2017.
- Ease of use. I assumed I would need to find an exchange to transfer BTC to BTC lightning. No way did I want to provide KYC anymore or make an account with yet another exchange. But get this. In many lightning wallets, your balance does not differentiate between on-chain btc and btc lightning. Your balance is just your balance. When you send from that balance, you can send to either an on-chain address or a lightning address. The UX is seamless.
I look forward to exploring more about the lightning network. This cryptocurrency industry is so exciting. Things keep improving, getting stronger, safer, and more useful. I can’t wait to continue learning more about what I don’t know.