Lightning Network consensus is a marketplace and that’s okay!

This was originally posted at Bitcoin Magazine on May 21, 2019.

To Bitcoin or Not to Bitcoin

During the “scaling debate” before the SegWit2X user-activated soft fork (UASF), Bitcoin businesses were getting their first bitter taste of Bitcoin’s censorship resistance. They wanted change to be easier. They wanted their influence to be effective. They wanted to take shortcuts. Unfortunately for them, Bitcoin was created to resist control. Entities that seek to position themselves against Bitcoin are choosing a path of perpetual hypocrisy and frustration.

We’re Gonna Eat Their Lunch

Exchanges and other custodians basically acted as Bitcoin’s primitive second layer. They added central efficiencies, but the risks were exchange hacks, exit scams, closed accounts, censorship and surprise-KYC requirements.

Dude, Where’s My Revolution?

Big blockers like to taunt Lightning supporters by pointing out how Lightning Network completion seems to perpetually be 18 months away. It’s an unfair perspective considering how far we have come. It’s probably silly to think programmable money will ever be “done” at all.

The Agile Bitcoin Business

In this new economy, a new type of Bitcoin business is emerging that will address following product cycle: Trust > Hybrid Trust > Trustless.

The Center for Decentralization

Lightning removes the trust aspect of centralization and creates new dynamics to leverage trust, reducing risks to mere inconveniences. This is a design tool for us to utilize. This is what Bitcoin commerce has been waiting for.

Consensus Is Not Required in the Lightning Network

The landscape on the Lightning Network is such that it allows for subnetworks and external networks to be interoperable. While there is a BOLT specification process, it is only necessary if you want to get a feature into the consensus of cooperating developers, not the consensus of users.

The Lightning Network Protocol Is Market Driven

Here is an example of a recurring question I overheard at the New York Blockchain Week conferences last week:

Competition, Cooperation and Consolidation

I see a LOT of Lightning projects, wallets, games, labs and businesses popping up, but I’d like to see some consolidation and cooperation, both for efficiency and for the users’ sake. I do not want to use a different app for everything, nor do I want any of my favorite apps to be abandoned.

Bitcoin Game Theory & Strategy