What are Lighting Network Apps (LAPPs)?

After the recent implementation of the Bitcoin Lightning Network, one of the most exciting features that emerged was the building of decentralized-like apps on top of the Lightning Network mainnet. These apps are the Lightning Network Apps or Lapps. Lapps have their major focus on payment-based use cases like micropayment paywalls. Apart from providing room for the establishment of Lapps, The Bitcoin Lightning Network also negate the existence of many altcoins.

The Bitcoin Lightning Network is a second-layer solution on the Bitcoin network. This means that it is built separately to the Bitcoin network but interacts with it. However, the bottom line is that it allows for faster payments, with lower fees. It is run by a network of nodes that process payments, and transactions commonly made using QR codes instead of public keys that are complex.

Since late 2018, the Lightning Network has been growing in channel nodes and network capacity at a rapid rate. The Lightning Network heavily depends on a peer-to-peer mesh network that facilitates bi-directional payment channels between Bitcoin users off-chain. Furthermore, the Bitcoin Lightning Network nodes can be useful in routing payments and inject liquidity into the network. This is made possible through the managing of nodes with sizeable deposits of Bitcoins.

It is evident that Lapps are still in their infancy stage. However, a solid number of Lapps have already hit the market and deployed publicly. All the released Lapps can be found in the official Lightning App Directory.

How do Lapps Differ from Dapps?

The programming language behind Bitcoin smart contracts is Script. All bitcoin smart contracts involve payment, and they require a payment to the miner who mines them and processes the script. Furthermore, the lightning network allows any bitcoin payment to be done via payment channels. To that extent, lapps are similar to dapps.

Additionally, Lapps are also unlike dapps in several ways. Dapps are written in Solidity instead of Script. Solidity allows for instruction recursion, which is a powerful programming attribute. Note that dapps also have no upper bound for how large the app can be. On the other hand, Bitcoin apps should be in code that is small enough to fit in bitcoin’s limited block space.

What Do Lapps Mean For Bitcoin?

The existence of Lapps on Bitcoin network address two main issues. First, it’s no secret that a lack of decentralized apps ecosystem within Bitcoin blockchain is one of the popular gripes against the future of Bitcoin. With these features, cryptocurrency beginners will be giving Ethereum, Lisk, and Cardano a second look. With this development, it is obvious that Bitcoin is edging in on one of the most often cited key competitive disadvantages. We expect to see many developers throng to Bitcoin. However, only time will tell.

Secondly, Lapps are structured for micropayments. There might be an influx of users on the Bitcoin network because micropayments are known to lower the barrier to entry.  Accepting Bitcoin payments comes with high fees and unpredictable confirmation periods. Previously, this hindrances made many merchants shun away from Bitcoin payments. However, with Lapps leveraging the Lightning Network, suddenly the two largest objections against Bitcoin adoption from an online business vanish.

At the moment, use cases for Bitcoin are only in fields like financial activities, managing wallets, and exchanges. With the lightning network, we expect to have a widen variety. However, the main question is about the adaptability of Lapps.

Different Kinds of Lapps

As seen above, Lapps can be used in different fields. Here are some of the most common types of Lapps.

Wallets

For any transaction to occur on the Bitcoin Lightning Network, you need a wallet. The UI and UX of wallets are usually a strong determinant in their broader adoption. Generally, wallets on Bitcoin Lightning Network have evolved in both design and functionality. To interact with the Lightning Network, you need a Bitcoin wallet that is LN-enabled. Note that not all Bitcoin wallets are Lightning Network-enabled. However, all Lightning Network wallets require on-chain Bitcoin functionality.

Already, we have pioneer wallets operating on the Bitcoin Lightning Network. Desktop wallets include; Zap, Lightning Labs Desktop, Spark wallet, and Lightning Peach. For the web browser, we have Lightning Joule, Casa Node, and Spark Wallet. Finally, for mobile, we have Eclair, Spark Wallet and Lightning Peach. We have some wallet that operates on a desktop, web browser and mobile. 

With a lightning wallet, you can use it to buy items in online stores and marketplaces that have integrated Lightning payments. CoinMall is a peer-to-peer marketplace where you can buy and sell digital products with zero-fees. We also have Bitrefill, a popular online store selling mobile top-ups and a wide range of gift cards.

Most of these wallets are user-friendly for beginners since the Lightning Network technology is complex to master. However, users should conduct sufficient research to determine a wallet that suits their preferences.

E-Commerce Plugins

The integration of e-commerce with Bitcoin is one of the most popular use cases. This is because making payments with wallets is easy. Additionally, integration with leading e-commerce platforms like WooCommerce is easy. Merchants who have enabled Bitcoin Lightning Network payments can achieve this by a matter of few clicks. We already have e-commerce plugins, payment lapps, and open-source payments in operation. We have BTCPay Server, Lightning Charge, NanoPoS, Peach Commerce, Peach Watchtower, WooCommerce Plugin, Ifpaytt, Tippin. Me, Strike, Spacebit.live.

It is key to point out that the developing e-commerce industry for Bitcoin Lightning Network and its overall adoption will be a sign for the system success in the future. For many merchants, the obstacle has always been the real-time exchange barrier between fiat and cryptocurrencies.

Development Tools

The Bitcoin Lightning Network also encompasses developer tools. The developer tools vary from metrics charts to simplified API integrations. The growth of developer tools with open-source technology indicates its organic growth and adoption among developers for building applications. Some notable developer tools and integrations for Bitcoin’s LN include BitcoinVisuals, LND Explorer, lightning, Paypercall, FileBazaar, 1ML, Neutrino, and Y’alls Bitrefill.

Games

In most cases, games are the experimental playground for new technologies. Some of the technologies include virtual items in video games or early forms of digital currency. Games come with a recreational focus but they are also an excellent way to showcase the potential of new technology just like the Bitcoin Lightning Network.

Some of the most popular and intriguing Bitcoin Lightning Network supported games include Satoshi’s Place, Lightning Jukebox, Nanotip, Starbucks, Hammercoin, and Thunder dice.

Conclusion

The cryptocurrency world is working towards mainstream adoption. Platforms like the Bitcoin Lightning Network are what the industry needs to achieve this fete. It is important to note that the Bitcoin Lightning network has great potential but has a number of obstacles to beat along the way.  

However, the emergence of solid Lapps shows that the network has a bright and promising future ahead. This an indicator that the Bitcoin community is not sitting on its hands and leaving anything to chance.  The already existing Lapps are very diverse for such an early emergent technology that is not even close to finally being released properly. It is encouraging to see real progress on the technology itself. This development in the tools, applications and educational resources will allow mainstream users to more easily tap into the great capabilities of the Bitcoin Lightning Network.

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