It’s been another bad seven days for the bitcoin price (and even worse for most altcoins), but plenty of development work is still going on behind the scenes. Technical developments, such as Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, tend to be better indicators of long-term trends in the market than short-term price swings, which is why it’s important to focus on these sorts of fundamental developments rather than worry about another down week — especially after a massive price run over the course of 2017.
I covered the release of the first mainnet Lightning Network wallet a few weeks ago, but developers have continued to bring more real-world functionality to this once-hypothetical method of scaling Bitcoin to many millions of new users over the coming years. For example, Blockstream has released seven new Lightning apps over the past week, and another Lightning Network-enabled wallet, Eclair, has hit the mainnet.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the developments for Bitcoin’s Lightning Network over the past week.
Blockstream Releases 7 Lightning Apps
Blockstream, which is one of three or four companies that are currently working on software related to Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, released seven Lightning apps (Lapps) over the past week. As expected, the general focus of most of the apps was on micropayments.
For example, the first app released during Blockstream’s “Week of Lapps” was FileBazaar, which is a way for content creators to receive Lightning payments for content such as videos, pictures, podcasts, documents, and more. A similar app, Lightning Publisher, was the second lapp released by Blockstream, and it allows bloggers to accept Lightning payments for full access to articles and blogs published on WordPress sites.
Other lapps released by Blockstream over the course of the week included apps for accepting tips, taking payments for API calls, accepting point-of-sale payments, and even a Lightning-powered jukebox.
Although we’re still in very early days, the lapps from Blockstream provide a glimpse into what will be possible with this new payments technology and how easy it is for developers to build lapps on top of Blockstream’s Lightning Charge platform.
Eclair Goes Beta on Mainnet
In addition to the lapps from Blockstream, Acinq, which is another one of the companies working on Lightning software, released the mainnet beta version of their Eclair wallet.
Next week, Acinq plans to release an Android version of their Eclair wallet, which has been extremely popular among those who wanted to test the Lightning Network on Bitcoin’s testnet. Having said that, the initial mainnet version of this wallet is likely to be send-only due to the need for further development of the “watchtowers” functionality of the Lightning Network.
Watchtowers are an aspect of the Lightning Network that is necessary for Lightning-enabled wallets that are not running alongside a Bitcoin full node.
Lightning Network vs. Altcoins
One last interesting piece of data that came out this week was that there are now around 1,400 Lightning Network nodes on Bitcoin’s mainnet, which can be compared to 1,971 Bitcoin Cash (Bitcash) nodes. This is an interesting data point because one of the main points I have brought up in the past in regard to Bitcoin’s Lightning Network is the possible negative effect it could have on altcoins such as Bitcash.
We will have to see how the Lightning Network develops further, but it is clear that the dropping price has had practically no effect on the excitement around this technology.
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