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The Lightning Network is having a moment. The payments network built on top of Bitcoin has hit some big milestones. Not only has it expanded to 6,000 nodes, which are running the network and allowing payments to go through, but it now supports a maximum capacity of 650 Bitcoin ($2.4 million) and has become the darling of crypto Twitter.
On the social network, an anonymous user known as Hodlonaut started off The Lightning Torch—a thread where each person adds $0.35 to the wallet and passes it on—to showcase the ease of using the network. The trend caught on, initially attracting the attention of Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao and Blocksteam CSO Samson Mow. More recently however, it gained a new fan: Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.
Twitterers started speculating. Was Twitter going to integrate Lightning into its business model? When someone asked Dorsey about the idea of tipping people in satoshis on Twitter, he said, “Love the idea.”
Twitter isn’t the only company that Dorsey built, of course. He also founded Square, a payments-services provider aimed at small businesses. It has a subsidiary, called Cash, which specializes in mobile payments. Both Square and the Cash App support the buying and selling of Bitcoin but do not let you send it directly out of the app, to your own wallet for example.
And now, the CEO of Casa—which builds Lightning Network nodes—has been teasing fans of a Lightning Labs/Dorsey matrimony with suggestions that such a reality may not be all that far away. Either Twitter may integrate Lightning-powered tips or, even bigger, it could integrated the Lightning Network with Square and/or it's Cash App, to bring Lightning payments to businesses across the U.S.
“It would be huge. [Square is] a very well respected company. They’ve got great tech, great teams. They do have a strong Bitcoin team there. It would be a significant thing because they have a lot of reputation in Silicon Valley too,” Jeremy Welch told Decrypt. “Silicon Valley hasn’t had the best view on Bitcoin overall. So, it would be significant on multiple levels, both in terms of adoption and their reputation and they have cachet with a lot of the bigger financial institutions.”
Welch highlighted that some businesses had already started using the Lightning Network, despite it still being very early days, and if Square threw its considerable expertise and marketing into selling it to its network of thousands of businesses, mass crypto adoption may not be far off.
“I don’t expect it to happen any time soon but [Dorsey] is a crazy guy and hopefully the tough mindset and adventurous spirit will prevail and push through any of the complication conversation with partners.”
When asked if Casa had been in talks with Twitter, Welch said he couldn't possibly comment. But the cat might already be out of the bag. On a podcast with Lightning Labs co-founder Elizabeth Stark, Jack Dorsey said, "We've been exploring with [Stark] and Lightning, more about Lightning more broadly. We have this massive seller network of small, medium and large businesses and back to the original hackweek idea, we would love to make it as fast, efficient, and transactional as possible. And that includes looking at our seller base and our register, it's not an "if," it's more of a "when."" He added that the Cash App team is already running Lightning nodes—computers that power the network. He used these nodes to set up the invoice and request system for the Lightning Torch. Which he then passed to Stark. Exciting stuff.
Will Jack be supporting any other currencies? Probably not.