So, you want to use the Lightning Network

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If you’ve been around the Cryptoverse for at least the past 6 months or so, then you’ve probably heard of the Lightning Network. If you haven’t, then not to worry. I’ve written an article about it in the past: https://embily.com/the-bitcoin-boom-and-its-future-with-lightning-network/. But I’ll also give my readers the quick version in the paragraph below.

It’s well known that Bitcoin has a scaling issue. It’s a problem that many developers around the world are working on. One of the proposed solutions (And probably the most promising) is a protocol called the Lightning Network. The Lightning Network creates a layer outside of the Bitcoin blockchain where payments can be sent back and forth, quicker, cheaper and just as secure, before being settled back onto the main Bitcoin blockchain.

Before we continue on how to go about using the Lightning Network, I just wanted to clarify that you can still make transactions on the standard Bitcoin blockchain, as well as via the Lightning Network. Just wanted to make that statement, as I have heard some people are getting confused and think that the payments have to go through one or the other.

Okay, so in this article, we will look at the easiest way to set yourself up on the Lightning Network and start using it for transactions, all on your phone. This short article will be focused on Android phones, but I’ll include a link for an IOS Lightning Network wallet in the links section at the bottom of this article.

So first, just download the Eclair wallet from the PlayStore. The initial set up is like any other software wallet. You will be given a seed phrase, as well as asked to set up a pin for the app.

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The Eclair wallet app on the PlayStore

The wallet will ask you to enter in 3 random seed phrases that it just gave you, so make sure you’ve written all that stuff down in the correct order.

Once that’s done, it will present you with a notification or a disclaimer for you to agree with before being able to move on as well as a very quick tutorial on what each page is, but all of this is self-explanatory anyway.

The menu on the left is your Eclair wallet’s Bitcoin address. The center menu is the transaction history and the menu on the right is a list of all the Lightning Channels that you have open.

My Eclair wallets address – feel free to test out your transactions by sending me something 😉

So, make sure your Eclair wallet has some BTC in it before you can start spending it on the Lightning Network. If you fund your Eclair wallet through a normal transaction on the main chain, you will be able to see the transaction that comes through in the middle “transaction history” menu (This menu shows all transactions in all chains).

Once you have some BTC in your wallet, go to the Lightning Channels menu on the right. Now it’s time to connect to a node.

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At the bottom right corner of the Lightning Channels menu, there will be a plus sign for you to press. Upon pressing it, it will come up with more options for you to choose from. If you’re running your own node or if you have a specific node you want to connect to, you can do this via the first 2 options with the node URI (The URI is the string of random letters, numbers, and symbols):

Paste A Node URI
Scan A Node URI (This would be a QR code of the URI)

The third option: Random Node, means just that. Connect your Eclair wallet to a random Lightning Network Node.

And finally, the fourth option: ACINQ Node. ACINQ is the company that developed the Eclair wallet.

Once you’ve chosen the option you want to go with, it will then ask you how much you want to ‘fund’ the channel with, as well as give you the option of changing your transaction fee.

The amount of funding you decide to put in the channel is similar to being your available spending money. Only the amount you ‘funded’ can be spent, the remaining amount that sits in your Eclair lightning wallet cannot be spent.

And so, if you were to close a channel, this would return any remaining amount of BTC within that channel, back into your main wallet.

That basically covers all you need to know for the Eclair wallet and will hopefully get you started with the Lightning Network. Keep in mind that the Lightning Network is not a takeover of the Blockchain, but rather an alternative. The devs recommend that you keep your transactions on the lightning network small, and to keep bigger transactions on the main blockchain. Happy spending!

 

Links!

Reddit post with the following information:
https://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/8tvmbd/i_want_to_do_a_lightning_network_transaction/

How to make Bitcoin Lightning payments with Eclair:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wq4lF2s4UtI

If you have an android phone, use Éclair:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=fr.acinq.eclair.wallet.mainnet2

If you have an IOS phone, use LND Thin Wallet:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/lnd-thin-wallet/id1375747279

 

Cover illustration artist Culpeo-Fox, DeviantArt

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Just two months after his first Bitcoin purchase, Loy found himself working with Embily and has been a Cryptocurrency evangelist ever since. Follow his journey as he continues to learn all he can about Crypto at embilyblogloy.wordpress.com

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