Meep morp, fellow Lightninger. Last week got us more Lightning x AI synergies, interoperability and exciting developments. Let's take a look!
Latest StackerNews Release Removes Need For An Account
Last week StackerNews released a couple of updates that, I think, embody an interesting and desirable direction for Lightning apps. As a reminder, StackerNews resembles the infamous HackerNews, but sats are the upvotes: if you like a post or a comment, you can just zap it, and it will both send sats to the author and upvote the content.
Among other things, this two releases bring the ability to:
- as a StackerNews user, see who zapped me on my
@stacker.newsLightning Address, and the attached message if there is any ;
- post, comment and zap on the platform without any account. Content will be seen as being posted by the "anon" account, and payments will be handled by paying a simple Bolt11 invoice. This also means that there is no need to deposit funds on StackerNews beforehand anymore, since you can simply pay an invoice anytime you want to tip a post or a comment.
I find this new features important for a couple of reasons. The first is that I think Lightning platforms should try their best to enable users to not keep any funds on the platform. This is the whole point of what we're doing at LN Markets, and is facilitated by features such as just-in-time funding (which StackerNews just added), automatic withdrawals, and tools such as Lightning Node Connect, Nostr Wallet Connect, WebLN and commando, which allow users to interact with the platform directly with their own wallet with the same ease of use and seamless experience as if they were using an in-app balance.
When you mix this with Nostr, a whole new world is available: it enables users to interact with the platform straight from their Nostr clients (or Nostr-enabled Lightning wallets). They don't need to access the frontend anymore! Of course, it was all possible before Nostr by using the API, but that's more of a power users thing. Nostr seems to be in a unique position to make this kind of usage more mainstream, by providing an easy to use interface and a common communication medium that all the apps can use.
Lightning x AI Demo
Lightning Labs published a demo of their toolset bridging the gap between Lightning and AI, namely LangChainBitcoin and L402. In this video we can see Hannah from Lightning Labs connecting ChatGPT to a Lightning node and sending it buying stuff on its own on the internet. Wild!
Purchase eSIMs With Lightning
You can now buy eSIMs with Lightning on Bitrefill! The offering basically covers the whole world, with local eSIMs (i.e. for a country), regional ones (e.g. LATAM) and even a worldwide eSIM that works in more than 140 countries.
Regarding privacy, Bitrefill only requires an email address to send you a QR code to activate the eSIM, as well as a warning when you're close to reaching your eSIM data limit. It is worth noting that a similar service is offered by silent.link, which doesn't even require an email since the eSIM QR code is displayed on the website itself once the payment is settled.
AI4All Hackathon Results
PhotoBolt won the overall price. This app "turns a product image into a poster by breaking down the work into a chain of smaller jobs, publishing them to the Nostr network for generative AI service providers to compete against each other in completing the jobs", and get paid sats in exchange. To do that, it uses the power of both Lightning and Nostr, notably with a new dedicated piece of Nostr specification (NIP90) which enables AI agents to offer their services on Nostr marketplaces.
Be sure to checkout Alby's blog post for more details about the other winners, as well as other notable projects. Congratulations to all the participants, and shoutout to BOLT.FUN and the sponsors!
Joltz Launches Bitcoin Rewards API
Joltz launched their Bitcoin Rewards API last week. The company specializes in using Lightning and Lightning Labs's Taproot Assets protocols to build and foster alternative loyalty programs between brands and their users.
The way a traditional loyalty program works is that a brand or company will give points to their users to reward them for their purchases, for taking the time to answer a survey, etc. These points are usually worthless outside of the brand's ecosystem. But what if, instead of points, users could be rewarded sats, which they can instantly redeem to their Lightning wallet?
That's essentially what Joltz is doing, and the just released API will help companies and brand of all kinds integrate Lightning rewards without having to build their own Lightning infrastructure. Of course, as Joltz's co-founder Ian Major himself recognizes, convincing brands to abandon points and embrace sats isn't easy, since brands often like the captive aspect of points. However, removing the technical difficulties and friction from the equation is certainly a decisive step in the right direction. Companies interested in attracting a special demography of customers will probably be the first movers, but if this catches on others might follow suit!
Wallets & Tools
The New Zeus Experience Is Coming
The new Zeus version (with an integrated Lightning node right inside the app) is available for supporters of the open source project. While the rest of us will need to wait a bit more, we can already enjoy some sneak peeks. We can see the node requires some syncing, which suggests pathfinding will be performed in the user's phone (and not by using Trampoline Routing as Phoenix does). Interesting!
Spec & Implems
Blinded Paths Interop Between LND & LDK
Blinded Paths interoperability has been achieved between LND and LDK, which means users of one implementation will be able to pay users of the other using Blinded Paths, and vice-versa. We're getting closer and closer to network-wide adoption of splicing, dual-funding, blinded paths and more.
Core Lightning Update
The new Core Lightning release is closer than ever, with the second release candidate tagged just a few days ago. This means a refined but still experimental version of the upcoming v23.08 is available for testing. This update brings many notable changes, especially:
- a plugin called "renepay" which implements the Pickhardt payments algorithm to find payment routes that are optimal both in terms of reliability and fees ;
- the ability to perform self-payments (e.g. a node paying invoices to itself), which as we saw in LS#45 is a very useful feature for systems such as Fedi and LNBits, where users of the same custodian may often send money to one another ;
- experimental support for splicing, as we already covered last week ;
- Taproot addresses support ;
- enhanced payment failure management to avoid some cases where channel closures could "cascade" along a payment path.
As always, Bitcoin Optech already did a great job covering all this, in case you wish to dig a bit deeper.
Métal et circuits,
Cartes glissent, grincement nerveux,
Robot bluffe aussi.
Il joue au poker pour
Dont il ne saura que faire
Et sa soif de victoire
N'en est que plus ferme.