Bitcoin Lightning Network growth is organic, coming from real-world adoption

The capacity of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network (LN) recently surpassed an all-time high of 5,000 Bitcoin (BTC). 

The Lightning Network is a neutral protocol built on top of Bitcoin, and it currently does not have a “native” token attached to it like many decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms.

Although the Lightning Network’s total liquidity is less than 0.5% of the Ether (ETH) in DeFi contracts, the uptrend in Bitcoin’s LN capacity versus a downtrend in the amount of ETH locked in smart contracts is encouraging for LN development.

Total ETH locked in DeFi contracts (top) and total BTC in LN channels (bottom). Source: DefiLlama

While the liquidity on the LN has been rising consistently, the number of channels on the peer-to-peer network dropped drastically in November following the FTX collapse. It could be due to an exodus of miners operating LN nodes besides running mining clients.

However, the likely end of miner capitulation and the rise of Bitcoin-based applications like nonfungible tokens could mark an end to LN channel capitulation. Since the start of 2023, over 2,000 new channels have been added to the network.

Lightning Network number of channels. Source: Glassnode

A Valkyrie Investments report states that LN adoption is picking up speed in emerging markets like South America and Africa, primarily due to efforts of the LN mobile payment application Strike.

In December 2022, the firm launched an LN-based remittance service in Africa. The service offers no-cost transfers from the United States to Africans in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya. Later, Strike announced a similar program in the Philippines.

LN capacity and important chronological events. Source: Valkyrie

More recently, the firm announced dollar payments using LN, where users can potentially send dollars from the Strike’s cash balance to savings and Visa-enabled accounts. The app will convert U.S. dollars to BTC in the background and convert to dollars at the destination. Since LN is fast and cheap, the risk due to Bitcoin’s price volatility is minimal.

The cost of international payments from the U.S. can reach as high as $45 per transaction,…



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