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With the rollout of bitcoin as legal tender in El Salvador, there have been some privacy concerns regarding Chivo, the government-sponsored wallet through which all citizens were issued $30 in bitcoin.
If Salvadorans prefer that their government not monitor their transactions, it’s critical that they opt to use other Lightning Network wallets, such as Muun or Breeze instead.
“If they just get it out of Chivo Wallet to another channel, all user-facing, like Lightning wallets out there, they’re going to be private channels,” said Shinobi, during a Bitcoin Magazine Twitter Spaces conversation on the topic. “You’re not going to be able to figure out where that UTXO is, without a lot of on-chain analysis, looking at the counter party, and if they have any funds that got closed and maybe mingled with other chains. That should cover the basis for most people, just worried about the government seeing where that money is going.”
The discussion moved to the Lightning Network, specifically the merits of replace-by-fee (RBF) and how merchants should deal with accepting zeroconf transactions in order to create a positive customer experience, while also preventing double spends.
“Most people buying things from e-commerce expect to get them instantly, because they’re used to, like using credit cards and such,” said Bitcoin Developer John Carvalho. “We can’t do this with RBF, because RBF allows the user to also change the destination of the transaction. Essentially, programmatically double-spend the merchant. You can’t really accept an RBF transaction with zeroconf.”
Another uncertainty with Lightning is the potential for MEV or “miner extractable value” to become a problem. MEV is a measure of the potential profit available to a miner who re-orders transactions within a block.
“The general idea is that in a blockchain that deals with transactions, there are sometimes opportunities for the person who has the control over ordering of transactions that go into blocks to extract value based on the order that they put those transactions into a block,” said Lisa Neigut, a c-lightning developer.
Carvalho proposed a solution that involves preventing miners from having enough information to recognize whether re-ordering transactions would be profitable.
“The idea would be to create abstractions, or abstraction networks that are difficult for miners to gather information about,” he proposed. “That way, you are basically insulated from their ability to determine what exactly what you’re doing is, and whether it’s worth more to you than a plain old Bitcoin transaction.”
To conclude, Lightning Labs’ Ryan Gentry shared what he’s most excited about regarding the future of Lightning.
“Just getting more people into the space, getting more people interested, which inevitably leads to more developers, into more startups,” he said. “I’m just really excited for the unknowns that are going to pop up over the next six months, that are going to come out of this surge of adoption. There’s Lightning Labs and Blockstream, Sync, Square Crypto. Of course, we have really long-time horizons that we’re thinking about, and the stuff that we’re excited about over the next three to five years, in terms of protocol development”.
The full recording of this Spaces conversation includes many more details and discussion. To read the whole conversation, check out the unedited transcript below:
[00:00:06] P: John, give us your deets.
[00:00:09] JC: Hey, I am John Carvalho. At the moment I have a podcast called The Biz. You can check out thebiz.pro. I am CEO of a stealth mode company, making Bitcoin and Lightning software products to prepare for hyper-Bitcoinization.
[00:00:23] P: Vivek, you’re up, my friend.
[00:00:24] V: My name is Vivek. I do business development for Blockstream, on liquid and relay to our Greenlight product. I just might be part of the some idiots crowd John had mentioned.
[00:00:38] P: Every time, man, you always undersell yourself. It’s adorable. Vivek is incredibly intelligent. He likes to describe himself as a BD, just a sales guy. The truth be told, he’s helped me organize most of these Lightning-focus spaces. He’s incredibly knowledgeable about all this stuff. When he speaks, you all should listen.
[00:00:54] V: I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m Lisa’s pet lizard.
[00:00:57] P: That is also true. Those things are not mutually exclusive. Lisa, give us your deets.
[00:01:01] LN: Hey, friends. I’m Lisa. Sorry. I’m eating ice cream. I make a blockchain with my pet lizard, Vivek. I work on C-lightning, which is a Lightning implementation, that’s written mostly in C. I think, one of my coworkers is working on slipping some Rust in the side. We’ll have to see how that works out.
[00:01:18] P: Slipping some Rust in the side. That sounds painful, but I’m here for it. Rust is an incredibly cool programming language, and –
[00:01:25] V: You heard it here first. Tetanus Lightning.
[00:01:27] P: Yes. Once I am a software engineer. Done a bunch of other stuff, but I love taking physical things apart. When I was in high school and college, I had this truck that was just beat to shit, and I would drive to scrap yards and just pick through all this piles of rusty metal, looking for weird shit. The fifth time, I cut myself on a piece. I was like, “I should get a tetanus booster.” I went to the doctor and she was like, “Here you go.” I felt much better after that.
Let’s go on. Lisa, I wanted to talk to you about the super-interesting piece you wrote recently about MEV on Lightning. I definitely want to get into that, but before we get into that, are there any other current events that anyone that’s on stage is particularly excited about, angry about, upset about related to the Lightning Network?
[00:02:12] V: I really want to know how, if I was a El Salvadoran citizen, how I can privately use the Bitcoin I was gifted, or HODL, or what are my best approaches?
[00:02:26] P: That’s a great question.
[00:02:28] S: Get it out of Chivo wallet?
[00:02:29] V: Do you guys want to hop into it now, or go back to that after the MEV stuff?
[00:02:33] P: Yeah, let’s go into it.
[00:02:34] V: Okay. Yeah. I was curious, I guess, the current way people would do things is you want to move that to custodial, non-KYC wallet. Then after that, send it to your Lightning node. Then if you have to end up closing a channel and you get that UTXO out, then you’d want to mix that. Then, mixing that opens up the whole other can of worms and the flame wars about the coin join implementations. I’m just wondering, what can realistically, a novice user in El Salvador do?
[00:03:12] JC: I think that you should at least have to define private from who, when you’re having a privacy conversation, because I don’t know. These conversations just always feel we’re just talking about this broad spectrum of privacy that should apply, and the standard of privacy that is not really realistic, that we should somehow be able to achieve for any given situation. I think, it matters private from who, what is the level of fear or danger here, and what do you actually make the trying to be private from? Because there’s probably different methods for doing it. Probably, some would be overkill.
[00:03:45] S: If you’re talking about from the government that they just get it out of Chivo Wallet to another channel, all user-facing, like Lightning wallets out there, they’re going to be private channels. You’re not going to be able to figure out where that UTXO is, without a lot of on-chain analysis, looking at the counter party, and if they have any funds that got closed and maybe mingled with other chains. That should cover the basis for most people, just worried about the government seeing where that money is going. You would have to do a very complicated analysis and hope that hit chain without having spent any first to be able to try and correlate the amount closing on-chain to really tie that to any of the airdrops through Chivo.
[00:04:30] JC: I would say, you probably don’t want to be trying to hide the $30 of Bitcoin they gave though. That’s probably a futile effort.
[00:04:35] P: Definitely. Even a great point. John, can we just reiterate who one might be trying to obscure these transactions from? Obviously, we’ve got the Salvadorian government. Who are the other potential actors that people might be able, or might be, as I said, wanting to obscure their actions from?
[00:04:52] JC: Just there, you can think of typical cases and use cases where people want privacy aside from government. I don’t know. Sometimes privacy from your boyfriend, or girlfriend, or spouse, or somebody in your family that you’re worried is on drugs and will steal your money. Generally, there are a lot of reasons to hide your worst. You don’t need to hide your Lightning channel activity from your crazy uncle. It just really depends what you’re trying to do.
[00:05:17] V: Maybe the things that are probably within the realm of their needs would be to make sure when they go spend somewhere, there’s no a price discrimination, where they can charge them a greater price. Granted, I doubt that their potential adversaries are knowledgeable enough to be probing and figuring out where balances are. Yeah. Just curious how all of this evolves and what are the best things they can do? Yeah, most people are concerned, which has making sure you get off Chivo. I think, that’s probably an excellent step.
[00:05:49] JC: Pretty much anyone that would be essentially a consequence of violence. If somebody could be violent towards you because of your Bitcoin, then that’s probably why you’re looking for privacy.
[00:05:59] P: Yeah, absolutely. I guess, what I was getting at is that, of course, if you have a wallet address that has 5 Bitcoin in it and you pay someone for a coffee, they immediately can see if it’s on-chain, that that came from your address with 5 Bitcoin. Privacy becomes really important. It’s not just about trying to protect yourself from the government, or your crazy uncle. It’s just a matter of good opsec. Now, if we’re talking about Lightning, it gets different obviously, but it’s important to be thinking about.
[00:06:23] LN: I have a quick question on that topic and before we move on. Sometimes when you give up some amount of privacy, you get other things in return. I guess, for custodial wallet, you could argue that by having a custodial wallet, so you let the custodian see general transaction history, they know who you are, they know who you’re dealing with. In exchange for that, you get, some might say the – you don’t have to manage your keys, because the custodian is doing it for you, and there’s some amount of convenience of having always on service that clearly, all these things I’m saying with caveats, but there’s a trade-off.
Like with the Chivo wallet in particular, is there any particular trade-offs that you got from using the wallet? Any nice to haves from Chivo wallet particular, above and beyond maybe any other self-hosted, or self-custodian Bitcoin wallet? Does that make sense?
[00:07:09] V: There’s probably balances and routes and pre-Bitcoin, like Shinobi was saying.
[00:07:15] JC: I don’t think any of us have tried the wallet, so I’m hesitant to comment. My guess would be, yeah, centralized services, like person-to-person transfers within the ecosystem without a fee and stuff like that.
[00:07:25] P: Do we know if, or has anybody heard if the wallet provides the functionality to convert Bitcoin directly into USD natively? Or is that a separate thing? Because they know they have the trust that they set up?
[00:07:36] V: I haven’t been to El Salvador or anything. From what I observed, it’s the ATMs that do that.
[00:07:42] P: Oh, I see. Okay.
[00:07:43] S: I know, I thought that the wallet had the capability to host a fiat balance and do the conversion as well?
[00:07:49] JC: As far as I know, you don’t have to have Bitcoin exposure if you don’t want to. It must do some conversion automatically, at least.
[00:07:57] LN: Can I download this wallet? Does anyone know if it’s available on the app store? How do people in El Salvador get this wallet?
[00:08:03] JC: I’m pretty sure it’s in the app store there. I don’t know if you can get it though.
[00:08:06] V: Can’t throw a VPN on?
[00:08:08] P: All right. I’m going to us forward, unless Lisa, did you have any other thoughts or questions on that? You brought it up a second ago.
[00:08:14] LN: No. Sorry. I’m just really – No, I don’t. No.
[00:08:17] P: Yeah. I’m also super curious about the ins and outs. I really want to figure out how to play around it myself. If you figure it out, please let me know. I wonder if just having a VPN would allow you to do. All right, what about you, John? What has come up recently that has been particularly exciting to you, concerning, or just interesting in general, related to the Lightning Network?
[00:08:34] JC: Related to the Lightning Network, the only things that come to mind are still stuff that I can’t talk about. I would say, maybe somebody who caught the debate recently around RBF, and we could talk about maybe how RBF affects Lightning Network in any way and that kind of thing, if that’s relevant. I don’t want to turn this into an RBF debate.
[00:08:53] V: John, we were having that debate four years ago and we’re still having it. It’s to go or not.
[00:09:00] P: Can you can you just summarize for the audience what your view on that is, and why you think that’s not necessarily a good thing?
[00:09:06] JC: Okay. we are going to do this.
[00:09:09] P: Let’s fucking go.
[00:09:11] JC: My agenda there was just basically, to promote the idea that merchants can offer zero confirmation transaction acceptance as a service. It’s something that they can do relatively really very controlled, in a very controlled way to limit their exposure and monitor and keep things under control. Despite the fact that accepting zero confirmation transactions does expose you to double spending opportunities for the people buying things from you, particularly for the company that is the flagship of this idea, which has Bitrefill, who has accepted zero confirmation Bitcoin payments for many years now, and really has had very minimal costs to doing that.
The idea is just basically, you can monitor the transaction fees of the transactions that are incoming to see if they have a sufficient enough fee that they were – they’re likely to be confirmed in the next block. Then accept that as a zero confirmation transaction and reward that customer, or pay that customer, whatever it is they purchased. In Bitrefill’s case, a gift card. A gift card is the most risky thing to offer this way, because it is essentially, a private key for credit at some website. It can be basically rendered instantly by the customer, and so you can’t get refund, or undo anything.
Double spending is particularly perfect for the situation. Bitrefill has somehow managed to not really be double spent. I think, maybe they had one or two small ones. You’d have to ask Sergei over there for the details. Generally, nothing really significant. This is done by monitoring the transaction, checking what transaction it is, because it can’t be RBF, which is the main point here, which I’ll get to.
Also, just choosing what their total exposure would be. Basically, saying like, we only want to have maybe $20,000 worth of orders open that are currently zero conf’d, and we’ll cap it at that. That basically maximizes your exposure at all times, to like, the most anyone could ever possibly double spend you for in a moment. You could take that cost and think of it as a cost of doing business, or cost of providing that service, and maybe even a cost of reducing customer service, or things like this, related to not accepting zero confirmation payments, because they do add the customer service costs and various confusing situations for people when shopping.
When they’re RBF transactions, which is replaced by a fee, the RBF transactions are better enforced by nodes. Basically, they allow the customer to change, to edit in transaction. Typically, this is used just to add to the fee to try to make it, so you can pay the lowest fee possible when you’re submitting a transaction. This is not an ideal format for buying something when you want that thing instantly.
Most people buying things from e-commerce expect to get them instantly, because they’re used to, like using credit card and such. We can’t do this with RBF, because RBF allows the user to also change the destination of the transaction. Essentially, programmatically double spend the merchant. You can’t really accept an RBF transaction with zero conf. The whole topic was actually, just me saying that I thought app creators, wallets and people making app level software, there are some, and just because they’re here, we might as well just say, Blockstream is one of them, Green is one of them, that default all transactions to being RBF.
I believe, I think, and it was just changing, but I believe at the moment, you can’t even change it. They all have to be RBF. for merchant situations, I consider mobile wallets to be spending wallets. They should have at least, the capability to turn off the RBF. Then even better, the RBF should be turned off by default, in my opinion, in hot wallets, because it creates a better user experience for spending wallets. That’s the whole summary, I think.
[00:12:50] S: Vivek, because this is such an easy thing to solve. I have literally had dash developers spurred out at me. For saying this, just update the URI form. The default for the wallet should be irrelevant if you can flag in the URI invoice that the –
[00:13:09] JC: Yeah. This is definitely a subtle aspect of the conversation, but it is more interesting than the previous debate, because it’s actually relevant. I would say, what you’re talking about, that becomes a business development effort, like getting all the wallets to do the thing. That’s what I was doing on Twitter is I was doing lazy business development. I’m saying, hey, without actually contacting all the wallets, I’ll just say, “I think people should think about this and have this value, and it should become part of our culture and normal.”
Yeah, you could think of a lot of ways to improve the payment formats and the way the apps communicate with each other, and URiS and having things like this. We’re supported everywhere. Would it be a good way? You have to, again, get everybody to do it, because it’s not an enforceable protocol. You can’t bake it into Bitcoin. I don’t know. Businesses don’t typically do very well trying to participate in the bit process and you know how that goes.
[00:13:59] S: It’s the same amount of effort though, to try and get people to change the default behavior for RBF. Why not just go the extra step –
[00:14:07] JC: It’s really not though. It’s really just convincing Blockstream mostly, just to be honest.
[00:14:12] V: I just wanted to quickly add that, the term that John was trying to look for is allowance for doubtful accounts. That’s the appropriate accounting and compliance bureau speak term. That’s pretty much it. That’s where, I guess, they’re comfortable with potentially losing those receivables as John stated, that is traditionally already expected in credit card chargebacks.
[00:14:34] P: Got it. Two things. One, I just want to welcome Ryan onto the stage. Good to see you, man. Thanks for being here.
[00:14:39] RG: Hey. Thanks for having me.
[00:14:40] P: Yeah. Absolutely, man. Then I want to give Walton a chance to jump in. He’s been very patient with his hand raised and then I want to go back to Brian Shinobi, hybrid creature, and I want to let you finish saying what you were going to say
[00:14:50] W: Hey guys. I had a comment just on the VPN question before, because I’ve asked someone in the UK, who’s regularly trying to pretend to be in other countries. It’s something I’ve explored extensively. Unfortunately, VPN alone will not suffice, because I’m certainly not an iOS, because the app stores are country based. Even if you can pretend to be in El Salvador, your app store will still be a US app store, or UK app store, whatever it is. If it is geographically restricted, you won’t be able to do it, if you’re outside of El Salvador.
[00:15:21] P: I see. Thanks, man. I appreciate it.
[00:15:23] RG: I wanted to jump in real quick to vehemently disagree with John, because that’s what I had to tell you I was going to do in order to get up here. I think, the RBF by default is good because it does line up with the fact that on-chain transactions are only probabilistically final, right? We’re very used to a world where there are no reorgs and that a block gets confirmed and everybody’s just nicely builds on top of it. That’s not the guarantee from the protocol.
The only protocol that we have in Bitcoin, does guarantee absolute finality within seconds is Lightning. I think, it’s more consistent with what the protocol offers actually to have RBF by default on-chain and not to try and let people believe that on-chain, zero conf on-chain transactions are instantly final. I will say that this is, I think, a nice area of bonding that where Blockstream, and at least myself likely more have.
[00:16:13] JC: I think, you’re having maybe just a whole different conversation than I’m having, because I’m not trying to say people should not understand that Bitcoin works in that way. Or trying to get them to think Bitcoin works in a way that it doesn’t actually work. I’m trying to say, that merchants can do this. They can provide this spectrum of service in a very controlled and safe way, and it is economically viable and rational to do so for both parties, both the customer and the merchant. It’s basically a win-win and that win-win is better facilitated, especially within the environment of a spending wallet, a hot wallet by certain defaults. In general, I don’t think that having protocol developers and low-level developers influencing how people use things with default settings. It can be a very dark design pattern behavior.
[00:17:02] P: I just want to let – goddammit, your name, Brian Shinobi, Shinobi Brian jump in and finish what he was saying earlier. Then let’s jump back to Ryan and –
[00:17:10] S: It’s like, what John is talking about, I think, effectively boils down to people should be able to take risks that they judge accepted. I agree with that. Ryan is entirely correct that the economic reality here is that RBF will just inevitably be –
[00:17:28] JC: Nobody said the opposite, though. That’s the point.
[00:17:31] S: John, can I finish? The whole point I was trying to get at earlier though, is just by tweaking the URI to have a flag that wallets will respect and pushing for something like that, you don’t even need to get rid of the RBF flag. Just lock it in with the highest sequence number, so that nothing else can replace that. You effectively have the same guarantees of a non-RBF transaction. It would just be a lot more sensible from my point of view to push for that URI change. It would be a very simple single flag in the QR code that somebody scanned, and then a warning that goes, “Hey, your wallet is deviating from your normal expected behavior. Are you okay with this before they finalize the transaction?” It would give the same guarantees that a merchant is looking for, if they choose to accept zero conf chain level.
[00:18:25] P: Ryan, what do you think?
[00:18:26] JC: I can’t say, what would change Blockstream’s mind for Green, as an example, to accept a new URI scheme and participate with it, or support it, or to just add toggle capability and default off to RBF. I don’t know which thing they would go for it easier. I actually do think that RBF toggle is much easier to implement, but neither one is hard and neither one is all that disruptive. I don’t think there’s a huge difference. It’s mostly up to just Blockstream, what their belief is and how they want the user experience to be in their own wallet.
[00:18:56] P: Ryan, what do you think? Oh, go ahead, Nifty. Actually, you first and then Ryan. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
[00:19:00] LN: Yeah. I think it’s important to point out that this RBF conversation is pretty far removed from the Lightning spec. That the party opening the channel is the one who builds the opening transaction for funding the channel. They’re choosing to do the zero conf, or whenever, they get to pick what transaction they’re going to do. Hopefully, the person who’s deciding what transactions you do is the same person who’s doing the zero conf thing, and they can decide what kind of RBF, or not RBF stuff they’re going to use.
I don’t know how many people are actually opening Lightning channels using the Green wallet, I would say. It sounds like, this is definitely a feature request for Green. I’m sure, John’s not the only one that would like to have a flag for whether or not to do RBF stuff in the Green wallet. I’m not really sure that’s this a Lightning center chat is the right place.
[00:19:56] JC: This has nothing to do with Lightning at all. There’s no Lightning [inaudible 00:20:00] for Green wallet.
[00:20:02] P: Fair enough.
[00:20:02] LN: Okay. Cool. Yeah. All right. We’re on the same page then. Cool.
[00:20:05] P: Yeah. Yeah. What I’d like to –
[00:20:06] RG: I can bring it back to Lightning, though.
[00:20:07] P: Go ahead, Ryan.
[00:20:08] W: [Inaudible 00:20:08] isn’t it? Because it’s like, instant payments, right?
[00:20:12] RG: Yeah. I think, the one thing John brings up a point that, that him and I, in particular, we talked about a lot which is, this is a business decision. Should protocol developers have the ability to disincentivize, what is the legitimate business operation in accepting zero conf transactions? I think, that there’s a lot of overlap here with the Lightning protocol stuff as well. I think, the more meta question is should protocol developers have the ability, or feel empowered to disincentivize certain legitimate business activities?
That’s a really hard question. What we’re talking about here, where we’re disagreeing really is more on time horizon than anything else. Can Bitrefill successfully receive zero conf transactions today? Yes, absolutely. Do we think they’ll be able to do so in 10 years with a really liquid, immature Lightning Network, where that will just be a better solution entirely? Yeah, probably.
When within the next 10 years is the time for protocol developers to say, “Okay, we’re going to go to RBF by default, because it’s good for all of these holistic reasons that don’t affect the refills direct business at all, and Bitrefill is going to have to change their business practices because of all of these bigger, more community benefits?” I think, that it’s a really interesting theoretical question. It’s one that, there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all answer to. I am generally in favor of wanting to push more people to using Lightning-based solutions, but obviously, I’m horribly biased in that opinion.
I think, John has very legitimate concerns in saying, “Wait a second. This is core to Bitrefill’s business. Maybe Bitrefill has more failures with Lightning right now, than they do with accepting the zero conf on-chain transactions.” Hey, protocol developers, there’s no reason, and you have no leeway in telling us how to run our business. I think, it’s a very interesting meta question about protocol design decisions, versus more commercial interests. There isn’t really a good answer to it.
[00:22:00] JC: I have two points I want to bring up. One is, as a culture, generally, protocol developers are fairly averse to businesses influencing the protocol and influencing how things work with Bitcoin. I think, it would be at least logically consistent for them to have a similar approach with their influence over users. Doing things, like forcing a default of something that is not the base Bitcoin transaction typically. That’s inconsistent with not wanting to be influenced by businesses.
I think people should be willing to be influenced by anybody useful, but just generally speaking, that’s just one contrast I wanted to paint. Then, another thing I wanted to bring up is, I think what – Walton was hinting at this, and you were just now. This is not necessarily me saying to do this, instead of onboarding people to Lightning. This is talking about the current situation. It’s talking about providing zero conf sentence as a service.
It’s not talking about changing protocol, or changing knowledge, or anything like this. It’s just talking about covering an additional part of the spectrum that can be covered right now. There are people that don’t use Lightning. There are people that can’t afford to pay on-chain. There are people that do spend on-chain, and those people can have a better user experience simply by intentionally preparing for it.
[00:23:12] P: Got it. Okay, good points all around.
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[00:26:41] P: I want to move us on to talking about Lisa’s recent article, ‘MEV over Lightning’. Because I know, Lisa, you got to go in about 25 minutes. Let’s shift over to that and dive in. Can you give us a high-level summary of the article that you wrote and what the major points are?
[00:26:58] LN: I can try. I have to admit, I tend to be a little forgetful. I can do my best, though. I think, there’s some interesting tie-ins here between this question about what does business and protocol is exactly. Hopefully, I’ll be able to tease it out as we go through it, because that may be interesting. I think, so maybe the best place to start is a short introduction to what MEV means. I’m sure there’s people in the audience who’ve never heard that term before. Might be totally new.
MEV is a term that I’m going to say, originated in one of the Ethereum communities and the Bitcoin community. It typically deals with this idea of – so MEV, it’s Maverick MEV. It stands for Miner Extractable Value. The general idea is that in a blockchain that deals with transactions, there are sometimes opportunities for the person who has the control over ordering of transactions that go into blocks, to extract value based on the order that they put those transactions into a block.
It’s really more of a thing on Ethereum, because of the way Ethereum works in terms of being a execution. Transactions in Ethereum block, or execution, each of them updates some global state that everyone reads and writes from. By moving your transaction to the top of a block, you would get executed. Your transaction logic would update the global seat before anyone else’s, and in a lot of cases or some cases. It depends on the current state of the global state, so to speak.
The ordering can be quite profitable, if you get to say what order those transactions go in. Specifically, one example, I think, probably the easiest one is certain arbitrage is become possible depending on, you see a trade that someone wants to make, say, submit a block to a mining pool, and then you see it enter the mempool, it gives you an opportunity to make another transaction, maybe that goes on a little before, like it was right before or right after it. Then, you basically, would bribe a miner to order the transactions in such a way.
Part of how you’re bribing them is you’re giving them a portion of the arbitrage that you would gain, because that’s more than they might get by just taking the fees for the transactions. The miner submits a blocked to be mined, such that your transaction gets ordered in front of the other one. Just to recap. The whole idea of MEV is, is there opportunity for the economic incentives of miners to not necessarily come to the forefront, but become a pressure on the design of the system, design of the protocol itself, such that we would maybe need to make changes, or new infrastructure would need to be built for Lightning, because someone, or something has identified opportunities for ordering of transactions, or maybe channel opens in such a way that there’s value there that can be extracted, so to speak.
I think, that’s the overarching scheme of the article that I wrote. I guess, that was last week. It feels like a long time ago. Yeah. It’s the overarching – No, really was two weeks ago. Sorry. It was the overarching idea of the paper, or I should say, article. Then in the article itself, I go through and just looking at them, but Lightning, there’s two different places you can say, okay, Lightning MEV, does it exist?
One is on on-chain, the layer one stuff. The places where Lightning interacts with the Bitcoin layer, so on-chain transactions. Then, the other place it’s more interesting to look at for extractable value, maximal extractable value is MEV is sometimes called – would be more the Lightning payment infrastructure layer, so just on layer two itself. It’s the big, broad points there. Maybe I should, I don’t know if anyone has questions, or maybe corrections about that. While you do that, I’m going to go find the tweet where I talked about it, so I can share it, so people can check out that article.
[00:30:57] RG: One very small correction in favor of Bitcoin maximalism. MEV started in the Bitcoin ecosystem. The original paper was James Prestwich, [inaudible], and Brandon Curtis trying to prove that actually, the fee market was going to be fine. Then everything else, Ethereum stole it from us.
[00:31:14] P: Bastards.
[00:31:15] RG: Then, I think, when I read the article, one thing that popped to mind immediately was Shinobi and I have tweet argued about this in the past. Say you have a really large market maker who is running a really liquid Lightning node in between FMX, correct. He has direct channels with FMX, crack him and OKX, and it’s just sitting in between these three destinations, just routing arbitrage between all three of them.
Theoretically, that node in the middle could notice a bunch of flow being routed into the tracks, and maybe that’s usually correlated with a price dump on that exchange and could hold up funds that are supposed to be forwarded to different apps, short on the next exchange and then let the funds proceed onto FMX. That was the example that came to mind really, with regards to, I don’t know, we should have a – it should be rev or something, routing node extracted value. We’d have, I don’t know, something like that. I thought that was an interesting example that immediately popped to mind when I read the article, which is very good, and I recommend.
[00:32:24] V: Minor correction. It was not Bitcoin maximalist, Jim Prestwich. James Prestwich works on atomic swaps and Brandon Curtis was that radar relay, working on Lightning. Not quite the Bitcoin maximalist you’d expect.
[00:32:39] RG: Yeah. They’re Bitcoin pluralists, I guess, is probably the right word.
[00:32:45] P: I haven’t heard that one before.
[00:32:47] LN: Yeah. I don’t think many of those people work in a Bitcoin ecosystem now. I think, like Prestwich does a lot of work in –
[00:32:52] RG: Yeah. You’re both very right. The original MEV paper was all about Bitcoin. It was not about state folds, smart contract chains. They were actually, I remember they were really disappointed, because the point of writing the paper was they were trying to prove that actually, even with a we can see market, like Bitcoin’s long-term security budget went too far. Yeah, they found very close.
[00:33:14] JC: To try to turn this into more of a little more abstract conversation, I think what MEV actually is, it’s actually taint and metadata created. Basically, a form of privacy loss. If miners can gather enough data about that is anchored to Bitcoin transactions, they now have information that they can use to their advantage for selecting whether to include those type of transactions, or how much of my costs to include them in this thing.
It’s like, the way that you can avoid MEV is one, not using Bitcoin as an abstraction anchor. if you are going to do that, for example, anchor layers to it, anchor tokens to it, etc., anchor identities to it, these things will create MEV opportunities. That’s why there’s so much about Ethereum, because they have so much base layer abstraction going on throughout the smart contract.
[00:34:01] LN: Actually, I think I pushed back that a little bit. John, I think you point out a pretty good point, and one that I’ve forgotten. It’s actually in the article, is one of the core tenants of what creates these opportunities and that’s information. You were calling it meta data. I think, you can, even more general and just say, information in general.
Typically, that’s information about desired actions. When Ryan was talking about the rev, or the hub. Someone else have read my article and was like, I think, had the exact same reaction, that they call it the hub, hub extractable value, to just basically, the same idea. Basically, your centralized thing. You have access to flow, basically, as you have information. The thing is with a chain, so by sending transactions to a mempool, for example, you create mempools are by their nature, public to anyone.
That’s why the reach of the chain is any of your desired actions, or your order flow, so to speak. I think, maybe talking about it in terms of order flow, which is typically used when you talk about making stock transactions. It’s actually a nice way to term it. The reason for that is that it makes, I think, a lot of these issues easier to see in the practical application of them. Anyways, so when you have a mempool, so any layer one for the most part, based on the fact that it’s entirely distributed and there’s no centralization, any transactions that you’re looking to get mine, for the most part, you send through this public relay, transaction relay called the mempool.
I think, most chains, most layer ones have mempools. The way that you get around it is by set – if you put a transaction the mempool should say, then it becomes basically, public information. There’s this delay in time between when you make your information about the trade you want to make public and the time that trade is actually effectuated, or in blockchain speak, included in a block. Transaction processing on layer one is batched. It happened in batches and the speed at which those batches happen is usually the block times. In Bitcoin, that’s approximately every 10 minutes.
Anyways, so then you get back into what’s information like on a layer two? How much information? Who has privilege access to information flow on layer two, such as Lightning, for example? Lightning is actually, really private, provided you’re not doing this hub-centric thing, where all of your transactions are going through the same hub. That hub, maybe it’s actually some big exchanges, Lightning node, and so they’re looking at all of your transactions as they go through, and then they can use that Lightning transaction data to do arbitrage plays on their centralized exchange, or whatever, like some exchange that’s associated with Lightning, or that Lightning’s that interface to.
Anyways, ignoring that thing, if you’re just looking at it, the more single Lightning node has payments coming in and coming out of it, because of the way that the Lightning Network has been architected, it’s very difficult to know where those payments are coming from and who they’re going to as they pass through your node.
The information that you have about any transaction, that flows through, there’s a couple of things here. One is that any transaction that goes through the Lightning Network, in order for you to even know that happened for the most part, it needs to go through your node. Then, even if it doesn’t go through your node, you really have no idea where it originated from, or where its final destination is. That’s due to the way that the onion messages that are Lightning payments are sent through, or wrapped up, or packaged. Yeah. I think that this information, this idea about how much information are you publicizing and to who, is a really big and important part of the extractable value equation, so to speak.
[00:37:44] JC: I got a little bit less than what you were specifically – you said you were pushing back on something, so I’m not sure what you were disagreeing with. I’ll add just basically, the subtlety I was getting at is that I wasn’t trying to single out the Lightning Network necessarily, so much as say, when you anchor things to Bitcoin, if the miners are able to collect metadata about the activity that you may create MEV opportunities, or opportunities to have your transaction censored, etc.
This can be anything. It could be Lightning, etc. The idea would be to create abstractions, or abstraction networks that are difficult for miners to gather information about. That way, you are basically insulated from their ability to determine what exactly what you’re doing is, and whether it’s worth more to you than a plain old Bitcoin transaction.
[00:38:30] S: If I can hop in really quick. That’s the whole logic for why anything anchored on Bitcoin should be as distributed and decentralized as possible. That’s one of the big reasons why the notion of big central hubs is poo-pooed on, because too many players connected to that offers that operator an opportunity to push things to chain, actively disrupt what’s going on-chain and take advantage of that economically, if they have hash raid.
[00:38:57] V: John, I want to see a fully integrated Lightning miner. I don’t support zero conf, but I want negative conf, where I can directly get the block reward into a Lightning, usable output and use it in Lightning before those hundred blocks. Yeah, that’s pretty much it.
[00:39:14] JC: I think, I could work with you on that. We’ll do a business development with blockchain.
[00:39:18] P: That’s it. Nobody else has any thoughts?
[00:39:20] V: No, zero conf, though. Just only negative a hundred confs.
[00:39:23] RG: One thing that I think is an interesting counterpoint to, when you think about the design of a Bitcoin and Lightning and how much is whereas decentralized and distributed as possible, where we try as best as we can to include privacy as a default in every layer of the, stack, etc., etc.
I can tell you, that explicit and state that a bunch of the proof of stake investors envision is all of the biggest citadel securities was famously, everybody learned that they do the pay for order flow on Robinhood stuff. Explicitly, the goal for the proof of stake validators is for citadel securities to be a proof of stake validator, and you have to pay them some form of institutionalized MEV in order to get your trade in on Eth 2.0, Solana, you name it.
That is the end state that they’re building towards, which I think is jus, philosophically, hilariously unaligned with what we’re trying to do here. Rather than institutionalize and enshrine the current power structure, build an entirely new one from the ground up that, the respect, social opportunity and decentralization. Just an interesting point to point out.
[00:40:23] LN: I think, you can make an argument today that the fees that you paid of miners to get them included in block is extractable value, right? I haven’t read this paper that it’s off, the amount of stuff. It sounds like I’ve got a little more reading to do there. I think that in one light, you can look at any fees that you pay to miners as bribes, right? You’re basically driving a miner to put your transactions to the block and you’re competing with every other person attempting to get a transaction on block at the same time with you, to be basically, win out that block space.
If one of those, let’s say there’s someone who’s got a transaction, and they’re paying a little bit less of a bribe than you are, but they have a good relationship with a miner, then they could definitely maybe pull on some social capital to tell the asset miner to include it, your third transaction in a block, and such that the next block is that miner has this transaction that doesn’t pay what’s considered the going bribery for getting your transactions into a block.
I think that by design, I think that Bitcoin is miner extractable value system. There’s a lot of different things at play here that I think people have pointed out, which I like really great, important, such as how decentralized you are really matters. Because if there was a centralized miner, who got to decide the ultimate arbitrator of who goes in what block, and when then you would basically, at their whim, where because there’s a healthy competition and you merch it between a bunch of different miners, one miner can’t really prevent your transaction from getting mined. You hoping that there’s another miner somewhere on the system that’s still playing by the most fees that they can get rules, so to speak.
You can get your transaction mined eventually by one of these honest miners, honest being the only extractable value that they accept is this wasn’t built into the protocol, which is the mining fees. I think at this point, we’re still – we’re a little far away from Lightning, so I apologize. Hopefully, it’s interesting enough. I don’t know.
[00:42:24] P: I think it’s fascinating. How’s everybody else feeling?
[00:42:27] V: I’m feeling very adversarial. How do I make sure I get my, I guess, commitment transaction finalized and mined? Not broadcast it, but directly submitted into a block, to a miner out of band?
[00:42:44] RG: Yeah. You got to bribe them. That’s what flash bots is all about.
[00:42:47] P: Accelerators.
[00:42:48] V: Sweet. Wash always can’t phase me?
[00:42:51] RG: Yeah, bro. All the miners live in Austin now. You just got to knock on their door and be like, “Hey, man. Block 700,056.”
[00:42:58] P: Get it done. Yeah, totally.
[00:43:01] V: Texas has a monopoly on block space, or block weight. Heard it here first.
[00:43:05] P: It’s funny, I’ve been into pay pays for a while now, but people love to say, “Oh, Ethereum based NFTs, that’s the first thing ever.” It’s all total horseshit, because of course, this has been done on Bitcoin for ages. It’s really funny, because, of course, NFTs on Bitcoin, which were the first NFTs, and I hate that term, are they’re on the counterparty protocol, which some top of Bitcoin is a layer one. They’re all just Bitcoin transactions.
If there’s a specific pay pay that you really want, you can go look on the counterparty chain, which is of course, just on top of the Bitcoin chain. It’s not even a layer two. You can just increase your fee above what the person who has already bid against you has done, and just shove your transaction through ahead of them, which is not the same thing as what you’re talking about, Lisa, but reminds of it.
[00:43:47] JC: Did you say pay?
[00:43:49] P: Somebody was just making fun of me for this. Yeah. I say pay, as opposed to Pepe. Apparently, that’s not how you’re supposed to say it.
[00:43:55] V: He’s starting a new app called Pay.
[00:43:58] P: That’s P-P-A-Y. You send your money to it and you never see it again. That’s how that works. It’s good stuff. Okay.
[00:44:04] JC: Called Ppay.
[00:44:08] P: I was joking, it would be called PP. Cool. What else? What else we got?
[00:44:12] JC: Still taking the piss, P.
[00:44:14] P: Never. That’s literally not possible for me.
[00:44:16] RG: I showed up late, but what were – I guess, we already did all the El Salvador stuff. My take on El Salvador is man, it’s not perfect, but all things together, I was hugely impressed with how smooth everything rolled out. From the companies on the ground, how prepared specifically, the private businesses that are operating in there, the open nodes, the Alex Mercados, everybody was ready.
They weren’t hugely deluged, and nobody had nodes going offline. There was for a brief moment, people’s nodes were getting dossed, but they were able to figure it out and get up and running. Yes, it’s not the perfect self-custody, everybody runs their own node future that we’re all hoping for. All told, I was pretty impressed.
[00:44:58] V: I was pretty impressed, too, that they responded so quickly to Matt Aalborg and Keith. They fixed it. I thought that was a funny troll.
[00:45:06] RG: That was awesome. Yeah. There are smart people down there that are paying attention, that are trying to do a good job. Frankly, I was worried. I didn’t know if Chivo was even going to launch Lightning support at all. It hasn’t been perfect and definitely, there’s a lot of private terms, etc. etc. I think, it’s a huge testament to everybody that’s been working on this network for three years, that the first main transaction was very end of 2017, very start of 2018.
Then three and a half years later, we have a full nation states, slowly being onboarded. People say, that Lightning is moving too slow. I think, we’ve done a pretty good job. When I say we, people who actually are building the thing.
[00:45:43] P: Now, you’re not giving yourself enough credit, man. I also want to welcome Artur to the stage, Co-Founder of Paxful. How’s it going it, man?”
[00:45:48] AS: Oh, hey. What’s up guys? Thanks for inviting. It’s 2:00 A.M. here. I’m in Estonia in north Europe. Good discussion here. I like it. I like where’s it going. Look, we’re going to have a big news tomorrow. Our PR team told that we’re not allowed to say, but I guess we can all guess what it’s going to be about. Tomorrow, we’re going to make it public. Thanks for Lightning Labs team to help us along the way.
We actually, will get a faster than crack and we’re going to be one of the big exchanges to release you know what. Oh, and look, regarding El Salvador, look, we have a guy on the grounds. He says same thing as on Reddit Bitcoin, that Chivo is not working. People don’t like the government app. It’s tracking user PII data, all that stuff. It’s our chance to build them better products, because, okay, there’s this open nodes, non-custodial solution. That is awesome for the merchants, but there’s space for more, for Paxful wallets, for POS merchant solutions, for example, there’s a guy, he has 20 shoe stores. He says, “Oh, I want to accept Bitcoin, or Lightning, but I want to cash it out into my bank account.”
That’s what we need to provide them, while a wallet is still not great. It’s buggy. Some people simply don’t want to use it. I still find it super exciting that where the El Salvador is going to be in five to 10 years. Because honestly, you guys just talk now about this NFT and all this other blockchains, like Solana and Ethereum. What’s happening there, I did play around. I confess. Eventually, yeah. These are fun blockchains, right? They’re fast. Look, I’m not going to show anything. Look, eventually things will move to Lightning, because Bitcoin is still the most fairly distributed, no prima, nothing. People will realize, it’s much faster transaction per seconds, like what? 25 million transactions per second in Lightning. Imagine smart contracts on that.
It will be literally less than one SATs price for every transaction then. I don’t know how long. It’s going to take time. Look, I do bet that all this other blockchains will be obsolete. That’s my long-term prediction, the world we’re going to live in.
[00:48:08] P: Yeah, I agree. I think that the benefits of Bitcoin and Lightning and all the exciting stuff that’s happening there, RGB protocol, see if that actually does what it’s supposed to do in terms of NFTs, but I think it’s all going to roll back into Bitcoin. It’s interesting.
[00:48:20] JC: I also agree that shitcoins, like Solana and NFT stuff are all garbage and everybody should pay attention to. I agree with that, too.
[00:48:27] P: Yup. A 100%.
[00:48:29] RG: It’s one of those things where you think about the network effects and the real changes that we’re making in new people’s lives, just by allowing instant and at Lightning fee rates. Ruben says from the US to El Salvador, allowing these people to be banked and not have to deal with physical cash anymore. It’s a much longer-term play than the short-term gains of flipping NFTs, but just in the trenches the protocol and it trenches Bitcoin and the psyche of the world and in people’s daily lives in just such a different deeper way. Seeing this stuff play out and seeing all the people that have started their own businesses on Paxful, and have given themselves jobs and employed other people will see the platform that Artur has provided for them. It makes such a bigger difference and it will be such a longer lasting impact.
I think, you see, the evidence of that and how quickly Nigeria and the massive surge in peer-to-peer trading volume in Nigeria, and how many people running Bitcoin there over the last couple of years. They’ve contributed, I think, a very large amount of that actually. It’s stuff that [inaudible 00:49:33] just going to compound. They’re just going to keep growing as a protocol.
One thing, more actually the other day that I thought was like, they really stuck with me, is this fiat payment rails are only going to get worse. They’re only going to get more politicized, only having to have higher fees. Lightning payment rails are only going to get better. They’re the worst that they’ve ever been today, and there’s tons of brain power involved in making them better and better. I think, we’re in a really good spot right now and the gap that we have, a little competition is only increasing.
[00:50:02] AS: Yeah. Look, I’ll bring an example. Ryan, yeah, you said it well. Basically, on Paxful, you could be doing the same thing you can do with Lightning already for the past six years. We’re not the first one. How it works. You can buy Bitcoin in US for PayPal, and then right away, sell that Bitcoin in Japan for the bank transfer, but you do that within one platform.
Now with Lightning, that Jack Mallers is saying, and others that basically, different apps are talking to each other openly. Before, it was flat, or plaid, however you’d say. It was connecting the banks, different banks. Now, it’s Lightning is connecting different wallets that have a fiat on-ramp and fiat off-ramp in whatever jurisdiction. That means Swift will be obsolete. You don’t even need that. You would just need a local wallet in US. You do the instant on-ramp and then you do the cash out in Africa, for example, in Nigeria, in Kenya with the local wallet there.
That means the payment networks, the local ones will be a ruling, right? You don’t need Swift for that, because it’s an on-ramp with the local payment network in one country. Then off-ramp with the local payment network in another country, M-Pesa in Kenya, ACH or Fed Wire in US, or whatever hacks people have done that the technology behind Zell, I know some companies have basically, reverse engineered Zell technology and that’s how they have this instant payouts.
[00:51:32] P: John, speak your piece, my friend.
[00:51:34] JC: I have nothing to say. What do you mean?
[00:51:38] P: You just tweeted a hilarious tweet at. What was that in response to?
[00:51:41] JC: I didn’t just tweet it. I tweeted it five minutes ago. No, I just think that we should be able to tweet the shit emoji when people are talking about shitcoins.
[00:51:48] P: Fair enough. Fair enough. I agree.
[00:51:50] AS: Look, guys. Here’s one point. I had a talk with one guy who was a FinTech developer. He said, centralized services are usually faster, even the Swift should be faster, but because of all the regulations or whatever, overhead on top, it’s slower than Lightning. He’s correct. Centralized services should be faster than decentralized. Lightning is faster. It works against that logic.
[00:52:12] W: Question.
[00:52:13] P: Go for it. Walton.
[00:52:15] W: If a Lightning node runner is already using Thor and Watchtowers, what can they do to improve the privacy and security respectively?
[00:52:25] P: I think, the biggest things are just not doing, we do in PlebNet and not docs – the fact that we’ve all associated our telegram handles with our nodes, or register on Amboss, or things like that massively degrades your privacy. If you’re really focused on privacy, or do it like Jimmy Song, or any number of other people who are running Lightning nodes do, which is they run large Lightning nodes, but they just don’t associate them with their identities in any way.
[00:52:46] RG: Yeah. I think, one additional thing that can really help is actually, the node that has all the public channels have that just be a gateway, or a proxy node that’s sitting in front of your real node. It just has a private channel with your proxy node. The only node that you’re your real node where you’re actually receiving the payments to, and creating invoices and stuff like that and making payments out of, never broadcasts on the gossip network. You have this fake proxy network, proxy node in front of it that does all of the public cost of communications. I think that’s a pretty good architecture, if you want to keep your real node where your application logic is done totally private and unannounced from the rest of the network.
They’re like, your only vulnerability is you would have to do some work to keep your real, like the application node, not the gateway node to keep that pokey from being listed in the invoice, with big TLC interceptor and a couple of other things. You can mask that, but it is hard.
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[00:57:44] P: All right. What else? What else we got?
[00:57:47] M: Hello. Hey, can I speak?
[00:57:48] P: Yes, I forgot you were there. I’m sorry, Miguel. Yes, please. You are focused on El Salvador. Give us your thoughts.
[00:57:53] M: Yeah, in El Salvador. Yeah. I am very bullish on Bitcoin, but because you were talking about the Chivo app and everything, right?
[00:58:02] P: We were originally, yeah.
[00:58:04] M: Even though I’m super bullish on Bitcoin, I don’t have the Chivo app. First, because it has not been enabled on my phone. I have a Note 10 and I can download the app. That sucks. Regardless of if I cannot download the app or not, I’m not using the Chivo app, because I don’t trust the government. I think that’s one of the reasons as to why people is in Bitcoin, because they don’t trust the institutions.
I wanted to ask you people in the space, there is a solution that would be similar to Chivo app in the sense that it’s decentralized, and that you have your own keys. Also, you can exchange Bitcoin for whatever token, or fiat, or fiat token that you can, because you can supposedly do that on the Chivo app. Also, that supports Lightning payments. Because, for example, I have Blue wallet, but again, that’s the centralized in Lightning.
I can convert my Bitcoin to dollars on Blue. Or for example, I have trust wallet in which it’s decentralized, and at the same time, I can exchange my Bitcoin for whatever I want, but I don’t have Lightning, or I could use Chivo, but it’s centralized. It’s not your keys, not your crypto. I have to rely on the government. is there something out there that could meet those requirements? If not, I think that, because we have been talking about the future.
[00:59:34] P: Wait. Sorry. Can you restate the requirements that you’re interested in?
[00:59:37] S: I think, what you’re looking for would be a Lightning wallet that had stablecoin support and a marketplace where people could do atomic swaps between say, Bitcoin and tethered USD.
[00:59:50] M: Yeah. That is pretty much what I’m asking for.
[00:59:53] P: John, did you just wave to signal agreement, or did you had a comment?
[00:59:58] JC: Just waving my hands.
[01:00:00] P: Got it. Yeah. I don’t know of any that are that offer that support. Does anyone else?
[01:00:05] JC: Shinobi’s totally right. You need exactly what you described. I do think what you described should exist. I don’t think it exists, other than maybe somewhat indirectly through a shitcoin wallet. There are multi-coin wallets that have also have stablecoins and stuff, but they’re not really doing a dedicated Bitcoin experience, even if you – generally, when you’re asking for the capability to convert your Bitcoin and your Lightning Bitcoin into dollars somehow, you’re going to need a service, which means that you’re going to have to trust a service with your money, while they’re convert it.
[01:00:34] M: I thought, the point of somehow Bitcoin was for it to be a trustless system. For example, even if you’re using Lightning, you’re not really trusting anybody.
[01:00:46] JC: You didn’t ask for trustless. You asked for dollars.
[01:00:49] P: Lightning is not fully trustless. There’s trade-offs at every step. If you want fully trustless, the most secure, then you’re going to go with layer one on-chain transactions, but then there’s trade-offs there. If you’re willing to give up a slight amount of that –
[01:01:01] JC: Generally speaking, it’s a 100% possible to hold US dollars in a trustless way digitally.
[01:01:06] P: There you go.
[01:01:08] M: Yeah. That sort of makes sense. Yeah. I guess, since donors come from institutions, we have to trust them, which is the opposite for Bitcoin. I guess, that’s why we’re here. That’s good.
[01:01:19] JC: Yeah. You need to trust your custodian as a bank, or you trust Tether to hold the dollars they say they hold, etc. You end up, to have a digital dollar, you have to trust.
[01:01:27] M: Okay. Yeah. That makes sense. I just put it out there as a business idea, or a map idea. If you can manage to have all those features, that would be great for the feature.
[01:01:39] JC: I think, it’s an excellent idea.
[01:01:40] RG: Yeah John, I think you should run with that. That’s a really good idea.
[01:01:44] M: Because you have all of it, right? You have the Dexus, you have the decentralized wallets and you have the Lightning wallet. It’s just about putting it altogether in one place, which to me would be really almost as if everybody’s running their own node. Maybe that doesn’t necessarily let you run it by yourself, because that requires technical things. So that it does it for you, just like Muun wallet does. Well, the way I see it, that would be the future for Bitcoin for me.
I live in the country where it’s legal. Because that way, it really is trustless. It really is something that I can also, yeah, for the long-term you can HODL. For everyday transactions, you can’t really use Bitcoin for everyday transactions. If you’re losing money day-to-day, unless –
[01:02:34] P: Wait, sorry. Why can’t you use Bitcoin over Lightning for everyday transactions?
[01:02:37] M: In the sense, let’s say that, I don’t know. I want to get a Big Mac for $5 and I only have $6 on my Bitcoin Lightning account, then I don’t know. Bitcoin goes down 10% and I couldn’t change it, because I don’t have anything to change it to.
[01:02:55] P: That’s not something that needs to be supported directly in a wallet. If you want to exchange it, it would be cool. I agree. It’d be a pretty awesome idea. I think those are separate.
[01:03:01] JC: I think, Miguel, if everybody, even in El Salvador, and I don’t care how poor anybody is there. Even if they just use Bitcoin for a little while, you’ll eventually get enough Bitcoin, if you use it as your form of savings and you can save any amount. You’ll eventually get to accumulate an amount where the volatility will matter less and less, and you’ll be more and more comfortable with holding the Bitcoin.
I think over the decades also, the Bitcoin will just become less volatile overall. Yeah, volatility is an issue. That is a huge reason why stablecoins are popular. That’s why they’re also very popular in countries that have bad stability for their own currency, a lot of high inflation and things like this. I think that you are correct, that the answer would be to try to make this better than current trusted solutions by incorporating atomic swaps and coordinating atomic swaps across people in private ways.
We’re still some ways away from that. There were a lot of people working on adding capabilities for tokens and to be on Lightning. There are multiple projects trying to do that. There are multiple trial projects trying to make atomic swapping better in general for Bitcoiners. Then coordinating all of that stuff in the future, but it’s not here now. I think that you have to be patient and you’ll see it come.
[01:04:12] M: All right. Thank you. That’s great insight. I guess, I’ll just wait. I’ll just HODL for now. Because I do want to use the Lightning to pay for stuff right now. I was so excited about it, but at the same time, I don’t feel like, unless I use the Chivo app, I feel I cannot do it, because I don’t have a Lightning wallet that I could hedge against the volatility.
[01:04:33] RG: Miguel, I do think, I don’t know if they have it live yet, but I do know that the Bitcoin Beach wallet is working on allowing you to hold a USD denominated balance in their wallet. I don’t know if it’s live yet. I do know that they’re working on it, though. You might try the Bitcoin Beach wallet and see if that’s available.
[01:04:50] M: All right. Yeah.
[01:04:51] JC: Since you specifically mentioned hedging your volatility, since you word it that way, we would probably should mention DLCs, people like atomic beds and tonic. I think, become atonic loans now. Because they’re trying to make a product that would allow you to specifically hedge through having a bet construction using Bitcoin. That might be a way that you could at least lock in a Bitcoin price at a certain dollar value, entering one of those contracts. Of course, there is some risk there, but you can control the risk.
[01:05:19] P: Yeah, DLCs are really fascinating. I can’t wait until we have them over Lightning.
[01:05:24] M: Maybe I could rephrase this question. Maybe you’ll get more ideas. Maybe if you work –
[01:05:30] P: Go ahead. I’m going to – Miguel, I’m just going to say, one more – I’m going to ask you to rephrase it one more time and then I want to move us on, because we don’t have too much more time. Go ahead.
[01:05:38] M: Yeah, of course. If your salary was being paid in Bitcoin right now, what would you do? You have a salary. You work for money.
[01:05:48] JC: I’ll tell you exactly what I’d do.
[01:05:50] M: [Inaudible 01:05:50] in USD, or whatever – yeah, money that you –
[01:05:54] P: Ryan go ahead. I think, Miguel, we got the concept. Basically, if you’re paid in BTC, what do you do if you need dollars to interact with your life? Ryan, you were going to chime in.
[01:06:02] JC: It was me.
[01:06:02] P: Oh, I’m sorry, John. Go ahead, John.
[01:06:07] JC: I’ve been getting paid in Bitcoin for, I don’t know, three years or something like this. I don’t remember, three or four years. Then, I was living off of Bitcoin before that. Very simple formula. You get paid, you decide how much money you need to spend until the next time you get paid in dollars, you sell that much the day you get paid, so that way you don’t think about whether you sold it right or the wrong price, because you don’t want to be a trader, because that’s a bad idea.
You just have only enough cash to live for month-to-month. Or, if you have a little more money and you have a little better savings, you maybe save two months out, or you save two months out, plus some emergency amount that you think you just want to have handy in case something happens. You just maneuver this way. Then if you can, if you want to start optimizing and keeping things out of dollars, you can also do things, like buy gift cards for whatever bills, or sorry, not bills, but cellphone services and different shopping you might do online. That way, you can stay outside of banking, if you want to.
[01:07:01] P: There you go.
[01:07:01] M: Thank you. That is actually great. I’m new to this space, right? This helps a lot. Thank you, guys, for listening and answering my questions, because this is great. Thanks, John. Because your experience is going to help me decide what I’m doing now in the future. Thank you.
[01:07:19] P: Absolutely, Miguel. I know, you and I have chatted back and forth in the back-end and a lot of the conversations about El Salvador. Definitely appreciate you jumping up and asking questions. They’re important ones. Ryan, you I don’t think, answered the question of what are some things that you are particularly excited about related to Lightning, or that you’re angry about, or that do fall asleep crying about.
[01:07:41] RG: I’m particularly excited, just about adoption, about all the new people that are getting into the space. I think, we’ve been hammering in our blog and all sorts of stuff on the PlebNet all year. All of the new people that are getting excited about Lightning with this price run-up, I think, it’s really exciting. It’s much needed. I can tell you, not only am I excited as a business development person, but the protocol developers are excited that we have new blood and new ideas, new people that are testing out their software and are using it on a daily basis. Particularly, the expansion into Latin America, not just El Salvador, but Brazil, Argentina, Chile West Africa, Vietnam and Paxful in Nigeria, Ghana.
Just getting more people into the space, getting more people interested, which inevitably leads to more developers, into more startups. I’m just really excited for the unknowns that are going to pop up over the next six months, that are come out of going to come out of this surge of adoption. There’s Lightning Labs and Blockstream, Sync, Square Crypto. Of course, we have really long-time horizons that we’re thinking about, and the stuff that we’re excited about over the next three to five years, in terms of protocol development.
Bringing in new people, enthusiastic people, talented people, young people that want to change things up and make them work, and throw a wrench into those plans, I think, is really exciting. Especially, protocol developers, I think they would even admit, have a tendency to get a little ivory tower, especially with the long-time horizon, and then thinking about the perfect protocol position and rapid rabbit holing and incentives, and all this stuff. Having real people use your real technology on a daily basis to buy coffee and stuff like that, just forces you to focus on the here and now about, what can we do to make sure that this El Salvador experiment works? What can we do to make sure that people with four or five-year-old Android phones in Ghana can run their own nodes? What can we do to solve these problems for people today, I think is really exciting and we’ll pay just enormous dividends going forward.
[01:09:42] P: I love it. I love it. Yeah. I’m super bullish on Lightning adoption and people getting more and more excited about it. Walton, a bunch of us all got together and started PlebNet, because we were super excited. We wanted to learn about it together and it grew into this much larger thing. I think, that I’m really excited about the developments there in terms of running neutrino nodes on your phone, and all of the platforms that are out there that make it easier and easier to run your own Lightning node. These are heady times. It’s quite amazing.
I’m also particularly excited about, there’s a new series that Lisa and the folks over at Blockstream are releasing about c-lightning development and the plugin architecture there. There’s some really awesome stuff being done on LND. It’s an exciting time to be running a Lightning node and to be seeing Lightning adoption increase dramatically all over the world.
[01:10:26] RG: One other thing that is really much more concrete, the answer I just gave was very flowery and high-level. One thing that I’ve always desperately wanted is death to subscription paywalls. I think, now, we have the infrastructure for the Lightning Network at a good enough place, where you’re going to start seeing a pro tip. I hope I’m not leaking anything. I don’t think that I am. If you download the Zebedee browser extension and go to Andre Neves’ profile page on Twitter, it’s pretty cool. I think, we’re going to see a lot more Lightning tipping, embedded natively in the web, like that showing up pretty soon.
[01:11:05] P: I did not know that they had a Chrome extension. Yeah. The guys at Zebedee are doing some incredible stuff.
[01:11:10] RG: Check it out. It’s public, because they’ve tweeted about it a little bit. If you look at my profile pic with the little Lightning and then my Zebedee Lightning address thing, again, there’s of course, concerns privacy-wise here and brings them TLS, all that stuff, yada, yada, yada, just the experience of being able to browse somebody’s Twitter page and being able to tip them directly over Lightning with all I had to put in there was just this, I don’t know, 20 characters or something like that. I think, it’s going to blow people’s minds as far as how far the infrastructure has come. I don’t know when they’re going to make a big announcement about it, but it’s working and I think it’s going to be the next couple days.
[01:11:48] P: Wait. That is so cool. Just to be clear, what did you have to change? You just basically put your Zebedee wallet address or something in your profile?
[01:11:55] RG: Yup. Yeah. My Lightning address, my Zebedee wallet. Yeah. I tested it out earlier. If you browse to on the browser, if you go to Andre specific, his page, I know it works for his page, because I looked at it and a little Lightning tip button pops up, if you have the Chrome extension installed. I expect, that will be rolled out for more Chrome extensions going forward.
[01:12:14] P: Basically, the Chrome extension scans the page, finds the Zebedee address and then automatically inserts a button, so that you can just tip him really easily?
[01:12:21] RG: Yeah. It’s fucking sweet.
[01:12:22] P: It’s pretty neat. Yeah, I think, the user experience for a lot of these tools has been, like a software engineer, I’m like, “Oh, no problem. I’ll SSH into my machine and smash my head against the wall for three hours before figuring it out.” Obviously, for adoption, we need much smoother experiences. I think, a lot of the full node, and Chino node, phone wallets that have these really beautiful experiences and this stuff is really important. It’s exciting.
[01:12:44] RG: Yeah. The Lighting address thing, too, again, it has its qualms and its trade-offs, etc., etc. Just the experience of having getting rid of the noises and just having a human readable Lightning address, I think there’s just a game-changer for normies, and making it approachable and making it something, I don’t know. Andre has been just producing all kinds of crazy, amazing new stuff in the last two months. I don’t know what’s gotten into his wheaties in the morning, but he’s just been shipping all kinds of new features. Excited to see what they have next.
[01:13:14] P: I will say, I’ve been super excited about the BOLT 12 stuff that Rusty Russell is working on. We did a Space with him a little while back. I think, BOLT 12 is going to be game-changing as well.
[01:13:24] RG: Yeah. There’s that flow. Anything with the end state of what’s good for users is this permanent reusable invoice, or static address, static QR code type thing. However, the development community, that decision is far beyond my pay grade of which is the proposal ends up going forward. However, we get to that end state, where you can have, ideally, a privacy preserving, but in practical matters, just a static, a Lightning address, I think is just huge for adoption. That’s been the dream of Internet-based micropayments for forever, because you can just put an address out there, like your email address, and people can just tip you for content that you posted months ago.
[01:14:02] P: All right. I want to try to end us relatively on time today, which will be, I don’t want to say a first, but it’s very infrequent. Let’s go around for the speakers that are up here and give some closing thoughts. Brian, you want to give us your closing thoughts? Although, you just did, but –
[01:14:17] S: I know. I just did. I’ll be brief though. Things are going well, but we need more help. We need more developers. We need more people doing business development, and we need more people doing marketing. If you’re sitting on the sidelines listening to this, and you are passionate about Lightning, like I think, literally every single Lightning company is hiring. I think, literally, every Bitcoin company is hiring right now. It’s time to quit your fiat job. It’s time to come work on Bitcoin full-time. If they have that resume and CV, and start applying.
We need to help, and now is the time to jump in. I can tell you, having joined not a Bitcoin company, but a crypto company in spring of 2018, once the bear market kicks in, those job posting disappear in a hurry. They don’t come back for a couple years. If you’re at all interested in working on Bitcoin full-time and you have any work close to the requisite skills, strongly recommend applying immediately. Even just to say that you did it, because we need more help. People are hiring and yeah, it’s a very exciting time to be working on Bitcoin.
[01:15:14] P: I could not agree with you more. I literally just did exactly that. Exciting stuff.
[01:15:18] S: By the way.
[01:15:19] P: Thank you. Thank you. I’m super pumped. The conference is going to be amazing. Walton.
[01:15:25] W: Yeah. I think, we’ve mentioned PlebNet a couple of times, but I don’t think we mentioned how people can find PlebNet. What I’d like to remind, is that they can simply go to kyc.jelly.com. That is kycjelly.com. Thank you. I’m done speaking.
[01:15:43] P: That’s an internal joke, because we’re all so fixated on privacy and OPSEC and stuff. We never tell anybody the number of Bitcoin we have, things like that. Then, when we started PlebNet, we were all like, “All right, here’s my node. Check on my liquidity.” We were just throwing channels around. The joke was, we called the KYC jelly, because it was funny. Artur, what are your thoughts?
[01:16:04] AS: Yeah, sure. It was a really good discussion. Ryan said, we are so early. It’s time to join the Lightning space, the Bitcoin space. Forget all the shitcoins and what is happening. They’re all that circle jerk with the farming, and so on. That’s not adding any value to the world. This thing, what we’re doing now is actually, building a better world.
Speaking of that, we are so early, which means that, honestly, the infrastructure is getting there. There’s some good development happening, but we are so early. It’s like 2013 in Bitcoin. Remember blockchain info got their first API? When I used it first time, it was get address and get merchants. They were the only API that was available. It was so clunky. I remember that. I’m not saying we’re in a similar situation now. We’re in a much better situation. Again, the user experience, the developer experience needs to be improved.
I understand, it takes time. We’re all building that. That’s the one thing, right? The infrastructure layer, we are building now. The second is Miguel said, he needs a useful product. One thing is we talk about tech here. Another thing is we need to talk how to solve actual problems for users, for people. How do we basically, abstract out Lightning and Bitcoin for people? I know, it sounds cheesy to we abstract it out, but we should give people choice. If they want to – I see said, Miguel, he wants to transact in some stable value, like USD. Let’s say, it’s a temporary thing, until the post fee at world, where Bitcoin Lightning will be the world currency, we have to think here as well, how do we make Lightning and Bitcoin without wallets, but a physical cash, so you can exchange with each other cash? Like in a movie Time, where you can –
[01:18:00] P: Wait, wait, wait, wait. You said two things I think are interesting. One, the idea that there needs to be physical representations of Lightning.
[01:18:07] AS: Exactly. Physical cash.
[01:18:09] P: I disagree, man.
[01:18:10] AS: No? Look, the electronic wallets, it’s durability. You have to solve all these things. I was thinking, NFC and E Inc., and then you can tap to each other. Basically, you don’t need Internet connection. That is the point. Because look, I was now in Nigeria, in these far villages and they have this POS systems. The agents who exchange cash with them, mobile money. We need solutions for them.
Okay, there’s Blockstream. They launched the satellite. That’s awesome. I’m sure they’re thinking ahead as well, but you don’t need Internet to connect to the Bitcoin blockchain with the Blockstream satellite, they will do the same with Lightning. The solution will come there. There’s a need. I see that. Hundred SATs on a physical form, or whatever material is going to be, like [inaudible 01:18:56], NFC or something. I have no idea, but there will be something.
[01:19:01] JC: Any physical form Bitcoin will end up being essentially, a form of hardware wallet. I think, the closest we’ve got so far is open dime, where you have this walkable and detectable, if it’s been on lock, little USB device that has Bitcoin on it. You can use that like cash.
[01:19:17] AS: Interesting. Yeah. There has to be a guarantee that you have not used it. I can just look at –
[01:19:22] JC: The only guarantee is if you actually connect to the network. You never know for sure, until you connect to the network.
[01:19:28] P: All right, everyone. I’m going to close this out for the day. Thank you, again, so much for joining, and I’ll see you all next week.