During a panel focused on the Lightning Network and Bitcoin development at the recent 2019 MIT Bitcoin Expo, Jack Mallers, who is the creator of the Zap Lightning Network wallet, was asked to talk about what merchants need to know before they try to join the Bitcoin’s second-layer payments solution. In his response, Mallers indicated there is demand for Bitcoin’s Lightning Network from merchants involved in the marijuana industry.
Merchants Want Lightning
According to Mallers, there is a lot of interest in Bitcoin’s Lightning Network from merchants; however, more on and off ramps between the Lightning Network and traditional fiat currencies are needed.
“Merchants actually — a lot of them prefer bitcoin and Lightning as a payment rail,” said Mallers. “Something like Lightning is very appealing. It’s cheaper. But being able to get in and out — that’s a problem that needs to be solved.”
Exchanges are expected to add Lightning Network functionality once the network is more battle tested. For now, OpenNode and CoinGate offer merchant services for instantly converting Lightning Network payments to various fiat currencies.
Of course, some merchants don’t care much about the ability to easily and instantly convert to fiat after a payment is made. At Bitrefill, Lightning Network payments are already outpacing all of the altcoins.
Last month, OpenNode’s Rui Gomes and João Almeida also discussed how nothing else in the cryptocurrency space can compare with the combination of Bitcoin with the Lightning Network at this time.
The Marijuana Industry and Lightning
Mallers pointed to the marijuana industry as a specific area where merchants are interested in the Lightning Network. The Zap creator added that his own family is involved the marijuana business.
“Our bank account gets shut down every single week,” said Mallers. “What’s exciting is there’s really organic and authentic demand for this type of payment rail. There are some serious efficiencies to be gained using this type of stuff.”
Mallers added that marijuana dispensaries are spinning up Zap point of sale systems in Colorado. Although, he also cautioned that the Lightning Network is still experimental at this time and businesses should not store massive amounts of bitcoin on the network quite yet.
Near the end of this portion of the panel, Mallers shared his future vision for what the user experience will look like on the Lightning Network.
“You can envision a user experience where I walk into a dispensary or a bar or whatever it is, I buy $100 worth of bitcoin in a Lightning wallet or on an exchange, I get it delivered to me instantly, I scan a QR code, and then that business can then turn it over and sell 75 cents on the dollar or whatever they need going in and out,” explained Mallers. “All of the sudden, the [user interface] doesn’t even have to say that I’m using Bitcoin. I’m just using a much cheaper and efficient way of settling and connecting peers and transferring value. That, I think, is the dream [user experience], and it’s much closer than we think.”
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