Beginner’s Guide #13: The Lightning Network with Jack Mallers

Location: Las Vegas
Date: Thursday, 20th February
Project: Zap & Strike
Role: Founder

Welcome to the Beginner’s Guide to Bitcoin.

Bitcoin can be intimidating for beginners. The protocol is complicated, the community can be aggressive and unforgiving, silly mistakes can lose you money, and it is easy to succumb to altcoin marketing. 

Bitcoin does though, offer you the opportunity to hold a new type of monetary asset, one which can’t be seized by the government and is censorship resistance and It has the potential to change the way the world. 

The goal of What Bitcoin Did has always been about making things simple; there are no stupid questions, and the show is here to help beginners navigate this new world. To kick off 2020, we are launching a special series to help beginners understand Bitcoin. We will be looking at the basics from breaking down the protocol to explaining the economics and discussing the potential societal shift. 

Beginners Guide Part 13 – The Lightning Network with Jack Mallers

Bitcoin produces a 1mb block on average every 10 minutes. The block size and time limitations are essential for keeping the blockchain small enough so that anyone is realistically able to run a full node, keeping Bitcoin decentralised. 

The block size limit, however, does present a scalability issue, as there is a maximum number of transactions that can be broadcast in each block. The limit led to an acrimonious scaling debate, lasting years which resulted in a fork of the Bitcoin protocol and the arrival of Bitcoin Cash. With Bitcoin, layer two solutions have been hailed as the best way to solve scaling.

The Lightning Network is a Layer 2 solution that runs on top of Bitcoin. By allowing users to create channels, Lightning allows for P2P micropayments that settle almost instantly and at a low cost. 

The Lightning Network offers other benefits such as improved privacy because the details of Lightning payments aren’t on the public blockchain. 

The Lightning Network is still a relatively new protocol, as such, it can be intimidating to newcomers as the user experience has some key differences from transacting on the basechain.

In Part 13 of the Beginner’s Guide to Bitcoin, I talk to Jack Mallers, the founder of Zap Lightning Wallet and Strike. We discuss the Lightning Network, the scaling debate, fees, settlement and the future of the protocol.