New Open-Source WebLN Standard Gains Momentum for Bitcoin Lightning Network Payments

The process of sending bitcoin lightning payments is fairly straightforward, but the new bitcoin standard, WebLN, was created with the purpose of improving lightning payments in a simpler way. The standard is an open-source system, which is presently gaining some traction as it is used by two of the more popular lightning wallets – Lightning Joule and Bluewallet. It is also used by multiple apps, including Lightning Spin, reducing the steps that users have to go through for payment.

Considering that lightning is an experimental technology with a lot of risks for sending real money, this transition is a major step. Many users agree that this open source payment network is going to be the future of these payments, even going against the advice of developer warnings. As they have worked to process their payments, the users have found various issues.

The new WebLN standard was written by William O’Beirne, who was inspired by the world he had already done with MyCrypto and MyEtherWallet, which are both Ethereum services for storing its native currency. While it may seem a little odd considering the implied rivalry between Bitcoin and Ethereum, O’Beirne clearly does not feel bothered by this. The work on the Web3 standard for Ethereum gave him the idea, providing a similar opportunity for Bitcoin that could ease the stress of dealing with payments online.

Ultimately, O’Beirne wants to be able to embed payments smoothly into the web for easier payments, rather than forcing developers to “reinvent the wheel.” Still, despite the influence of Web3, WebLN is “more stripped down,” since Bitcoin’s lightning is focused on payments primarily. WebLN will create a better user experience with one-tap payments and withdrawals.

At this point, it is important for users and developers to remember that WebLN is at the early stage of development, and it will still involve some changes. That is the beauty of the open source option, in that developers can see how well this protocol works on the network as it evolves. Next, O’Beirne stated that mission is to improve the documentation for developers and to create demo videos that teach the developers how to properly implement it. O’Beirne has already been in contact with Casa and Bitlum, which are a lightning service and a blockchain-based wallet. Neither has committed to using WebLN, but they have shown interest.

Through the summer, as O’Beirne works to get other wallets to use WebLN, he is going to be working with a research group called Chaincode Labs, which is led by Alex and Morcos and Suhas Daftuar. Morcos and Daftuar are both Bitcoin Core developers, and their group has been responsible for funding multiple protocol developers under Bitcoin.

Still, there is another standard that is appealing to lightning developers that will change the way that lightning is used online – W3C, which is an organization that is working on rules that every browser can comply with. There are some developers that are siding with that standard, creating something that O’Beirne is referring to as a “spec war.” There has yet to be any W3C implementations that support and involve lightning, and O’Beirne is feeling like the future holds much more adoption.

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