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The team at Bitcoin tech startup Lightning Labs, one of the main developers of Bitcoin's speedy and scalable Lightning Network, released an update to its Litd node management tool designed to make Bitcoin and Lightning easier to use.
Users need to run a Lightning “node” to send and receive payments on the network non-custodially, meaning without the assistance of a third party, a feat that isn’t easy for users who aren’t tech-savvy or don’t want to spend hours learning the ins and outs of the protocol to send a payment.
Lightning Labs manages a tool called Lightning Terminal to make managing Lightning nodes easier. Behind the scenes, Litd aims to abstract certain features of node management so users don't have to manage them directly, making it easier to use Lightning.
“We've heard consistent feedback from the Lightning developer community about the need for increased node management automation and better developer tooling for seamlessly onboarding new Lightning users,” Lightning Labs head of product growth Michael Levan told Decrypt, adding that these changes will make it easier to onboard new users to the network “regardless of their experience level.”
One update of Litd is to "automagically" update Lightning fees. Lightning routing nodes charge small fees for relaying payments to a destination. Usually whoever is operating the Lightning node needs to manually increase or decrease the fees. But Lightning Labs came up with a new algorithm for updating these fees dynamically based on how many payments each channel is routing each week.
Another is the introduction of "accounts." Generally each user has one Lightning node. But the new account system allows many users to share a single Lightning node. “With accounts, developers can bring less advanced users to Lightning without the need to understand any complexity of liquidity or node management,” Levin said. “Liquidity” is a major UX hurdle facing new users; they need to first make sure a Lightning channel is open to them in order to receive funds, which requires some knowledge of how Lightning works. New users don’t want to have to deal with all this.
These Litd updates are part of an industry-wide effort to make Lightning easier to use for the average Joe. Earlier this month, Lightspark unveiled a suite of tools to help onboard businesses to Lightning, for instance.
“These new features will help the Lightning developer community continue on its path to bring bitcoin to billions around the globe,” Levin said.