The raison d’être of many altcoins was to improve on Bitcoin’s transaction times and fees. But with Lightning Network performing much the same functions for Bitcoin, are these altcoins really necessary any more? Not so much, according to figures from online retailer Bitrefill.
Fill Her Up
Bitrefill originally just sold mobile phone top-ups online, but added gift-vouchers for sale in July 2018. The range of vouchers available (from Amazon to Uber to Hotels.com) meant shoppers could then purchase virtually anything with cryptocurrency.
While initially just accepting bitcoin, Bitrefill added altcoin payments (in dash, dogecoin, litecoin, and ether) back in 2016. It was also one of the first retailers to add Lightning Network functionality, in early 2018. At the time, there weren’t even user-friendly wallets available for LN.
Coming From Behind
Despite being the last ‘alternative’ payment method to the party, LN now accounts for more payments than any of the altcoins. According to Bitrefill’s John Carvalho:
It’s actually double most of the altcoins.
As a recent guest of The Bitcoin News Show, he explained that around four percent of daily sales are now made through Lightning payments. Whilst on-chain bitcoin payments still make-up the bulk of sales, this is more than any altcoin on most days. He also said that the number of Lightning payments was increasing almost daily.
Feel The Might Of Thor
Carvalho also discussed Bitrefill’s recently announced Thor service. This allows customers to open an empty lightning channel connected to Bitrefill’s well-connected node for a small fee. The channel connects to a lightning wallet, allowing the holder to receive bitcoin (for example as tips) instantly and with near-zero fees.
This is an easy tool to get started accepting lightning payments. The alternative is to manually ask someone to open a channel to you, or open a channel yourself and make some outgoing payments. Maintaining an open channel requires bitcoin loaded in your lightning wallet, but it is tricky to achieve this in the first instance.
Bitrefill are seeing a great deal of interest in this product, showing that Lightning Network has the support, and could indeed live up to its potential as an altcoin killer.
Will Lightning network make altcoins obsolete? Share your thoughts below!
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