7 Must-Have Apps Running on Top of Bitcoin Via the Lightning Network
When a crypto user hears the word "Bitcoin", what may most likely come to mind is a cryptocurrency running on a decentralized, highly resilient blockchain network.
Best Bitcoin Lightning Network Apps and Use Cases
When a crypto user hears the word "Bitcoin", what may most likely come to mind is a cryptocurrency running on a decentralized, highly resilient blockchain network. And he knows that he can use this asset for both peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions and as a store of value.
Indeed, all the statements above are perfectly true about BTC.
On the other hand, as a Turing Incomplete system that lacks the computational flexibility of smart contract chains like Ethereum and Solana, the Bitcoin blockchain is not known for its vast ecosystem of decentralized applications (dApps).
In addition, due to the primary focus being on security and decentralization, Bitcoin's mainnet features limited scalability (it can process about 7 transactions per second), slow block times (approximately 10 minutes per block), and relatively expensive transfers ($2.56 as of October 28, 2021).
While this helps Bitcoin remain resilient against both external and internal threats, all the while maintaining a high level of decentralization, the above downsides make the cryptocurrency's blockchain unable to compete with the likes of Ethereum, Solana, and Binance Smart Chain on the dApp market.
However, this is only true for BTC's mainnet or first layer (L1). Recently, the Lightning Network (LN), a micropayments-optimized layer-two (L2) scalability solution on top of Bitcoin offering users instantaneous and inexpensive transfers, gained quite some traction. As a result, many projects have launched their own applications on top of the Lightning Network to leverage the benefits of BTC's second layer.
Earlier on, we have introduced you to the best Lightning Network wallets on the market.
Now, it's time to explore the seven must-have applications on top of Bitcoin that are currently trending among crypto users. Let's see them!
Since El Salvador made Bitcoin legal tender along with USD, Strike has become one of the most popular apps on the Lightning Network.
Interestingly, in addition to helping the Latin American nation government establish a financial infrastructure around cryptocurrencies, developer Zap Solutions collaborated with Twitter to launch crypto tipping on the social media platform.
Often called "Bitcoin's Venmo," Strike is a Lightning Network-powered payments app offering users in the United States and El Salvador a (nearly) free and instantaneous way to send, spend, and receive money, as well as easily convert between fiat currency and BTC.
While Strike recently launched the early access version of its API allowing merchants to accept Lightning payments from their customers, the company partnered with Visa to roll out crypto-backed debit cards throughout the US, the UK, and Europe.
It is important to mention that Strike is a custodial service, which means that the service provider controls the private keys of your crypto wallet. While that is a downside for some due to increased counterparty risks, Strike offers users a more convenient way to recover lost or forgotten login credentials, all the while providing internal transfer functionality.
Sphinx is a decentralized and encrypted instant messaging app running on top of the Lightning Network. The app requires a very small micropayment fee to eliminate spam that may occur each time someone sends a message.
According to its creators, while this fee is so small that the average user does not even notice, it is enough to discourage spammers, bots, and scammers from harassing community members. At the same time, since Sphinx operates in a decentralized manner, it lacks the censorship of applications coming from tech giants (e.g., WhatsApp and Discord).
In addition to basic instant messaging functionality, Sphinx users can send and receive Bitcoin from others as well as tip content creators via the Lightning Network. At the same time, they can listen to podcasts and make video calls, to name a few features.
Most importantly, anyone can set up a ‘tribe’ on Sphinx and invite other users to join. Tribes are communities that are similar to Discord servers or subreddits on Reddit. The main difference is that admins can set joining fees and paid interactions within the groups they manage to earn revenue, compensate moderators, and eliminate spammers.
Furthermore, content creators have access to a wide variety of monetization methods, such as recurring payments, paywalled images, and paid streams.
1ML is a feature-rich blockchain explorer for the Lightning Network.
While you cannot search or audit actual transfers on the L2 solution like you can on Bitcoin's mainnet with a block explorer – as transactions are not publicly broadcast but are encrypted and routed from the sender to the recipient via intermediate nodes instead –, 1ML is an excellent application to analyze various statistics about the LN.
For example, you can check how many nodes and channels are running on top of the Lightning Network, the current network capacity in BTC, as well as how all this has changed in the past 30 days. At the same time, 1ML shows the latest network trends, a directory and ranking of LN service providers, along with many other stats and useful pieces of information about the layer-two solution.
Bitrefill is an e-commerce store that sells gift cards and vouchers for crypto that can be redeemed at popular online retailers, travel sites, gaming marketplaces, VoIP services, and many other providers, including Amazon, Airbnb, Uber, and the PlayStation Store. You can utilize the solution to top up prepaid phones with cryptocurrency in 170 countries.
While Bitrefill is not running exclusively on top of the Lightning Network, it accounts for a great share of transactions on the layer-two scalability solution. According to 1ML, Bitrefill's routing node features the ninth-largest capacity with nearly 75.5 BTC (worth approximately $4.5 million at the time of writing).
In addition to running its own node on the Lightning Network, Bitrefill accepts Bitcoin over the LN as a payment method along with other digital assets (e.g., DOGE, USDT, ETH, LTC) and fiat currency.
Interestingly, Bitrefill has a rewards program. It automatically provides a minimum of 1% cashback to customers of the total purchasing price in satoshis, which can be as high as 10% for select items. Another exciting feature is that you can use the store to buy Lightning Network channel capacity via Bitrefill's Thor solution, allowing users to get started conveniently with the layer-two scalability solution.
Tipping.me is a simple yet valuable browser extension that leverages the Lightning Network to offer the ability for Twitter users to reward content creators.
Available for Google Chrome and Firefox web browsers, after downloading and installing the Tipping.me extension, you need to top up your account with BTC and utilize the Lightning Network to send crypto tips to other users on Twitter.com.
In addition to enabling content creators to share a unique link with their followers to receive or request LN tips, users can also opt to leave a message along with every tip they send on Twitter.
While Twitter already rolled out its own tips feature, it is only available on iOS App store and also features some geographical limitations, since Strike can only be accessed by users from El Salvador and the US at the time of writing. For that reason, Tipping.me is an excellent alternative for users using desktop devices. It is also a viable option for those who are situated outside of Strike's supported jurisdictions and who want to send and receive Lightning Network tips on Twitter.
6. Light Nite
You have probably come across battle royale games, which is a popular trend in the video gaming industry. But have you heard about Bitcoin Royale?
Bitcoin Royale is a form of battle royale, where you have to compete with fellow players to remain the last man standing as the map shrinks with the game's progress. There is a major difference, though: you get rewarded in SATs over the Lightning Network for your performance.
The game that first introduced players to the concept of Bitcoin Royale is Light Nite, the LN-powered spin-off of the popular game Fortnite. Created by Satoshi's Games, Light Nite, like most blockchain gaming solutions on the market, utilizes the play-to-earn model that aims to incentivize players by rewarding them for their engagement while offering them the ability to earn crypto.
In addition to earning BTC rewards based on activity and performance, Light Nite's in-game items operate as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which players can earn, trade, purchase, as well as convert to Bitcoin for withdrawal over the LN.
While Light Nite was in Alpha early access in December 2020, its open beta started in September 2021, which offers players access to multiple single-player and multiplayer game modes (although some are still under development and will be released at a later date).
Maybe the most famous early use-cases of Bitcoin was its use as a payment method for pizza. Indeed, there is even a recurring event called the "Bitcoin Pizza Day." Bitcoin Pizza Day is on May 22 and celebrates how an early adopter called Laszlo Hanyecz purchased a pair of Papa John's pizza for 10,000 BTC in 2010.
While his deed will be remembered by the crypto community for a long time, it has become much easier to buy pizza with Bitcoin since 2010. And you don't even have to use the cryptocurrency's mainnet for your order.
With LN.PIZZA, United States users can order Domino's pizza over the Lightning Network with a 6% discount. You can select either delivery or takeout to the nearest restaurant and add tips to your order.
After you have submitted your order, the service will provide you status updates about the delivery until you receive it. Bon appétit!
Lightning Network Apps Power Everyday Bitcoin Use-Cases
Bitcoin's mainnet is designed to be highly secure, stable, and decentralized without a major focus on scalability.
And this is where the Lightning Network comes into the picture.
While it is still far from being a fully finished product, the Lightning Network has over the years become a functional and reliable scalability solution for Bitcoin, efficiently speeding up and reducing (or nearly eliminating) the costs of BTC transactions.
And now, as the Lightning Network is accessible for everyone to leverage as well – alongside developers and early adopters of cryptocurrency projects –, its ecosystem is expanding rapidly, with numerous exciting applications that allow users to settle their everyday payments with BTC in an easier and more convenient way than ever before.
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