Bitcoin Lightning Network
What is the lightning network?
The lightning network is a bitcoin second layer technology that allows for instant and nearly free transactions. This is done by using the second layer to process smaller transactions, that will later settle on the bitcoin main chain. Think of it as a way for the network to batch transactions, but from a user prospective you get all the benefits of transacting on the bitcoin main chain, along with a few extras. For the users, all payments sent, and received, are still final, but with increased privacy since these smaller transactions are all done initially off chain. When the payments are later settled on-chain (publicly), the bitcoin blockchain will slow the transaction that was made to open the lightning channel, and then the transaction that later closes the lightning channel, but everything that was done while inside the lightning channel, will not show publicly on the blockchain. Along with this increased privacy, payments are nearly free (sub-cent in many cases) allowing for micropayments, making bitcoin useful for not only buying a coffee, but for even the smallest transactions, think streaming money.
If you followed our last post on how to run your own bitcoin full node, you likely saw how easy it is to run your own full lightning server, alongside your own bitcoin full node, using the free and open source software Umbrel. Running your own bitcoin node with Umbrel is one way to connect to the lightning network. Another is to get setup instantly using third party software such as the Munn wallet. With Munn you can connect to the lightning network instantly, and start transacting immediately. Munn is a non-custodial, open source, bitcoin and lightning wallet. Simply download and use, with no need to sign up, or provide any identifying information, not even a username or email address.