Blockstream is one of the development teams focused on the development of the Lightning Network (LN) protocol. During a period of one week, the team announced new applications based on the LN protocol with the goal of demonstrating that the development of the solutions for the scalability problems of the Bitcoin network was going forward.
During the week called Week of Lapps, Blockstream presented the new advances through seven different applications based on the Lightning Network protocol. Lightning Charge is the application used by Nadav Ivgi, an independent developer, to create the LApss (Applications based on Lightning Network). Ivgi demonstrated a different way of using LN in every presented case, as described in the official Blockstream blog.
Lightning Charge is a micropayment processing system that allows the developers to create applications in the LN network. Blockstream launched this application based on c-lightning on January 16th this year. Lightning Charge is open source and allows anyone to develop bitcoin micropayment systems by using c-lightning.
The development team said these new applications would be added to the Elements project, with the goal of being available to the developers that would like to start experimenting with the implementation of c-lightning.
The first application presented during the Week of Lapps is FileBazaar, a trading tool for digital content creators (documents, photos, videos, etc.). With FileBazaar, the content creators can enumerate their files, determine the prices and easily configure their Lightning Charge server. The payment system in the application allows the viewers to see small previews of the work of the creators, and the access to the complete material is given only after the payment is made to the Lightning Charge server of the creator.
The second LApp is called Lightning Publisher. It is a complement to WordPress and allows the writers of articles to monetize their content. The readers can see a preview of an article and then access the entire content after executing a micropayment using Lightning Network. The micropayment is sent to the Lightning Charge server of the creator and the reader gains a complete access to the content.
Blockstream says the following about Lightning Publisher: “Like FileBazaar, Lightning Publisher for WordPress helps content creators to break away from the constraints of traditional advertising-based web revenue and instead sets them on their own paths to independently conduct business online. It also gives readers more control: they can buy just the articles they want, when they want them, by sending instant micropayments to the publishers of their choice.”
Nanotip is the third application on the list and it is used to give tips. Nanotip functions by creating a simple web server that writes Lightning payment requests on the fly and then gives each content provider its own bot for tips, with a higher privacy level than the classic tipping wallet of Bitcoin.
When it comes to nanotip, Blockstream says: “It gives each content provider their own tip-bot, but does it in a way that keeps those creators in total control, while giving them stronger privacy than a classic Bitcoin tipjar. Meanwhile, patrons of a creator or service can choose exactly who and how much they want to tip and will receive a Lightning invoice to do so with lightning speed.”
Paypercall is an application based on Lightning Network that allows the web developers to request payments and configure their micropayment system related to specific API modifications. It also allows the developers to receive instant payments through the LN network. Blockstream describes Paypercall as their most flexible LApp until now.
The developers are able to configure their payment channel to execute the payments on their Lightning Charge server before accepting the service requests. Another forms to use Paypercall is through a kind of inverse proxy whose goal is to intercept the requests until the payment is completed. In the case of the clients, they are supposed to access the URL of the developer and create a Lightning Network invoice. After the payment is completed, the clients can contact the developer to request their chosen service.
Nanopos is an LApp that provides a simplified point of sale system. It is a tool created to revolutionize the everyday consumption. Nanopos is focused on companies selling items with fixed price, such as coffee shops, candy shops, car dealers, etc. To use this system, the sellers create entries for each item in their offer in a file, which the consumers will see listed on a joint screen. The interested buyers then choose the article they would like to buy and get a QR code which they can use to complete the payment to the Lightning Charge server of the seller.
Ifpaytt functions with Lightning Charge and Paypercall. It uses an infrastructure called IFTTT (If This Then That) that allows the users to create applets (components of an application that executed a few simple functions in the context of another program). This way, when the payment for a LN invoice is completed, the client gains access to the services he or she paid for. The only requirement is the creation of an IFTTT applet that connect both user actions.
The GitHub repository os Ifpaytt contains instructions the users should follow to complete this process. The users of this component will have the same experience as when using Paypercall. They should access the URL of the developer to request a Lightning Network invoice and after completing the payment, they will gain access to the service. Blockstream says: “Now anyone can charge a micropayment for any action on any web page.”
Lightning Jukebox allows the users to charge or execute a micropayment with the goal of requesting songs or videos by linking YouTube content with a payment system created by Lightning Charge. Moreover, Lightning Jukebox is an educational LApp that demonstrates how only 128 lines of code can create a functional application.
When it comes to Lightning Jukebox, Blockstream says: “The Lightning Jukebox is a great example of how to write Lightning Charge LApps. It contains just 128 lines of code, which demonstrates how to integrate with the Lightning Charge micropayment processing system. The Lightning Jukebox also shows how services can be monetized on the Lightning Network, a lesson that may be of interest to users of the paypercall and ifpaytt LApps.”
The aforementioned seven LApps demonstrate the potential of the Lightning Network protocol, one of the most waited solutions for the scalability problems of the Bitcoin network and the blockchain ecosystem in general.