Bitcoin’s critics have been quick to point out the cryptocurrency’s inability to process small payments for everyday transactions. After all, one Bitcoin is currently worth more than $6,500. So micropayments for everyday tasks such as buying groceries or paying your phone bills seems inconvenient after accounting for the high transaction fees of as much as $50 that were seen last year.
But recent developments show that Bitcoin is inching closer toward fulfilling its promise of becoming digital money that can be used for everyday payments.
Buying candies using Bitcoin could soon be possible
Swiss coder David Knezic has developed a candy dispenser that accepts only Bitcoin as payments. The dispenser uses Blockchain.info to get information on incoming transactions in Bitcoin before disbursing the exact number of candies based on the payment received.
Level up! 🆙
— David Knezić (@davidknezic) June 11, 2018
This is an exciting development as it shows the world that Bitcoin can be used as a digital means of payment for everyday items. But Knezic accepts the problems of high transaction costs and processing times that need to be addressed to make buying candies using Bitcoin a reality. A consumer will definitely not want to wait 10 minutes while the system verifies the payment and shell out a massive fee for candies worth a few cents.
So he has decided to work on another candy dispenser based on the Lightning Network, which is a second layer network, that sits on top of the Bitcoin blockchain to facilitate cheaper and faster transactions. The Lightning Network is the key to Bitcoin’s scalability problem as it allows users to open payment channels between two parties that can then carry out a huge volume of transactions for a fraction of the cost.
In fact, a Reddit user has claimed to carry out 42 transactions on the Lightning Network while incurring just 4.9 cents in transaction fees.
Send money through email or keep spammers at bay
Alex Bosworth, a San Francisco-based developer and app designer who runs the website Y’alls as a test case for the Lightning Network, has integrated a simple but useful feature into his website. Bosworth created “Hashcash”, a system that’s used for preventing email spam.
Users can create a Hashcash inbox on his website for just $0.09, and the inbox will only receive messages when people pay to email. This way, the user will only get genuine email as the sender will have to spend a small amount of bitcoin to send the email.
— Alex Bosworth ☇ (@alexbosworth) June 11, 2018
Spammers, on the other hand, send thousands of emails every minute to reduce their cost per message. So their profitability will take a hit in case of this proof-of-work based email system, which can help cut down the amount of spam email sent every day across the world. As such, it won’t be surprising to see the pay to email feature integrated across corporate or government websites in the future.
Moreover, this Hashcash-based email system can also be used as a form of peer-to-peer payments between parties, as users can send money through email. This shows us yet another way of conducting financial transactions using Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, as buyers could possibly send just an email in the future to the seller to pay for the items they bought.
Satoshi’s Place tests the Lightning Network in a fun way
A Twitter user has launched a Lightning Network-powered online canvas known as Satoshi’s Place to test micropayments. Satoshi’s Place is offering users 1 million pixels on a canvas, which can be painted indefinitely. Each pixel will cost 1 “satoshi” to paint (1 Bitcoin=100 million Satoshi), so the amount you end up spending will be decided by how large the painting is.
A doodle on Satoshi’s Place stays until someone else buys that space and draws something else, turning it into somewhat of a fun game. The creator of this online canvas intends to explore how micropayments using Bitcoin will fit in the context of multiplayer games, according to The Next Web.
So, Bitcoin enthusiasts are showing us different ways in which the cryptocurrency could fit into our lives as an everyday means of peer-to-peer payment thanks to the Lightning Network, opening up exciting possibilities for the future.