The fledgling Lightning Network is the heir apparent scaling solution for Bitcoin, but it will need to become easier to use (and further developed, of course) to bring micropayments into the mainstream. That’s where Breez comes in.
Bitcoin payments startup Breez, which runs its own Lightning Network hub and is developing a client for the second-layer system, announced Monday it was opening up an iOS beta app that would allow Apple users to send bitcoin micropayments.
The company had previously created a similar beta client for Android devices that “gained hundreds of new users” in the span of a few weeks, Breez co-founder and chief executive officer Roy Sheinfeld said on the news.
The CEO added that between their Android and iOS apps, the startup now had the ability to bring the “Lightning economy” to the vast majority of smartphone and tablet users in the world:
“Together, Android and iOS cover 98.01% of the mobile market. With our new beta client for the iPhone, that 98.01% is our new goal. It’s a giant leap towards realizing the Lightning economy. We can now help almost everyone use Lightning cheaply and effortlessly. (And since iPhone users tend to be early adopters, they’ll probably help us reach our goal too.)”
Accordingly, downloaders of Breez’s iOS app will be able to enjoy the same benefits as the startup’s already published Android app, Sheinfeld further explained. Those features were as follows:
“Connect-to-pay for P2P payments, creating and paying Lightning invoices, choice of BIP 157 validating node, a background channels watcher, adding funds via Submarine Swaps — the works. With Flutter managing the frontend and Go for the business logic, crossing over to iPhone was a smooth, natural move.”
The Breez CEO suggested lastly that the company was developing a related point-of-sale client for merchants, though he didn’t offer a specific timeframe for when that client might be unveiled.
Lightning on the Horizon?
In their iOS beta app announcement, Breez cast the pivot as a tangible step “towards the Lightning economy,” i.e. a future where most bitcoin transactions would be conducted off-chain on second, or even third or higher layers.
That particular vision for Bitcoin’s future — one where direct use of the network’s first layer becomes increasingly rare and expensive — has been gaining steam in some cryptoeconomy circles in recent years.
For example, consider the argument made by Bitcoin analyst and Adamant Capital founding partner Tuur Demeester last month, namely that at some point in the future “using the Bitcoin blockchain will be as rare and specialized as chartering an oil tanker.”
At full maturity, using the Bitcoin blockchain will be as rare and specialized as chartering an oil tanker. https://t.co/lu1ORzrTjF
— Tuur Demeester (@TuurDemeester) May 29, 2019
Demeester made that remark in response to Bitcoin developer Tamas Blummer, who had been arguing himself that bitcoin would become a “reserve asset” and that it could take an inordinate amount of time for most people on earth to open Lightning Network channels.
To be sure, Breez is entirely geared toward making that inordinate span more moderate, i.e. by making it easier and faster to open such channels right from a mobile app. So there’s the chance the startup and similar projects could help usher in Lightning adoption more rapidly than anyone would reckon in the here in now — that’s the idea for all the involved stakeholders, at least.
Of course, though, not everyone thinks first-layer use of Bitcoin will or should become so rare and so expensive. Yet if the proposed vision of the Lightning Network is brought to fruition, then a considerable amount of Bitcoin volume will be pushed off-chain. How much volume is the grand question for now.
In any case, the ecosystem around Lightning continues to steadily mature, and the resulting possibilities are becoming more advanced.