The Lightning Network is now widely considered to be the long-awaited answer to Bitcoin’s scalability problem. Delivering on its initial promises, it has changed the way Bitcoin functions, effectively bringing it in line with legitimate day-to-day currencies. That being said, there is still a huge amount of room for development. Not afraid to test new approaches, it appears that Lightning Labs is making moves to combine the Lightning Network with NFC.
Flick, tap, and pay
Making the Lightning Network applicable and accessible to Bitcoin users has always presented something of a challenge. While the technology’s effectiveness is well documented, for the Lightning Network to succeed its level of convenience needs to be addressed. Lightning Developer Igor Cota sees the answer to this within NFC, “I want the payments to be instant just like with the contactless cards we have here in Europe. A user would simply tap on the payment terminal and presto.”
Instant payments become a reality
Combining the Lightning Network with NFC could certainly be an interesting development, with Cota already making great strides in making this a reality. He recently revealed that he’s developed a primitive Lightning wallet that carries NFC functionality. When you consider Lightning Labs commitment to getting the Lightning Network off the ground, this news shouldn’t come as a surprise. Cota feels that Bitcoin’s progression centers on making instant, contactless payments a reality. Bitcoin in its current form makes this almost impossible to achieve, but a combination of the Lightning Network and NFC means that it certainly isn’t out of the question. Taking NFC and packing it into a Lightning Network-focused wallet opens up a wealth of new opportunities.
Say goodbye to QR codes
There is also a strong belief that NFC connectivity can be Bitcoin’s bridge to the mainstream. Bitcoin has had a huge mainstream presence in recent years, but mostly as a tradable commodity more than anything else. Taking the Lightning Network forward, all it would take – technologically speaking – is a USB attachment to turn any computer into a Lightning-based POS device. This – in turn – would allow users to ditch webpage-based and QR codes payment options. QR codes might be popular, but they’re hardly convenient, so an NFC based solution with Lightning Network implementation could represent a massive step in the right direction.
Building a bridge
While the potential is huge, bridging the gap between NFC and Lightning Network technology won’t be easy. Cota certainly understands the challenge that awaits, as he feels some degree of NFC standardization is needed to make the process easier. Making a tongue in cheek plea, Cota said, “For the sake of interoperability, it would be great if we agreed on some standards.” Cota’s plans all center around standards introduced by the Lightning Network developers, which will then need to be molded into an NFC compatible product.
Contactless technology with huge potential
The potential for an NFC compatible Lightning wallet is huge, as it could make Bitcoin a true go-to payment option. However, the fear remains that it could prove to be an idea that is slightly ahead of it time. Either way, like the rest of the crypto community, we’re certainly excited to see how the Lightning Network goes about introducing NFC technology.