Trying to find a way for lightning to spread like wildfire and focused primarily on Africa (but this could work in other southern continents).
This can and will happen. It's amazing when listening to Twitter spaces created by groups in Africa how quickly things are progressing and what a great match lightning is for our problems. Somehow the vibe feels different. There's a lot of positive energy, no fed talk, no price talk, just people trying to figure out a way to help their fellow citizens. The focus is more on how to spend sats, rather than just stack sats, which reminds us of a certain whitepaper from a while back.
When we started this experiment (Lightning Village), it was a bit tricky to figure out which wallet to use. In order to understand this challenge, you first need to imagine the type of users we would be dealing with. Unreliable internet, electricity is a luxury, etc, etc. All the different trade-offs (more about them later) had us spinning round in circles.
So we looked at what builders had done so far in this region and thought by far the best product out there was of course Machankura which everyone here should have heard of. However, it had two main issues. (1) It's custodial and (2) for lightning to really take off massively, we felt the UI needs to be on a smartphone, even if it's an old model, with very low spec.
During this exploration phase, we've experienced lots of issues with wallets. If you do a "mom test" and ask your mom to send you some sats, you'll know what we mean. It's not just "how to receive/send", it's everything from where to get the sats in the first place. Since you can't send natively on-chain to a lightning wallet and not even the most maxi of all exchanges Swan, supports lightning. There's too much digging that needs to be done just to get started.
If you're a bitcoiner, you'll figure it out, of course you will. When there's a will there's a way, even for non-technical users. But for those of us trying to facilitate mass adoption, the goal is to find an end-to-end flow that we can introduce to a small commuity that regularly trade with each other, then incubate it for a while (iterating, learning and adapting the education). Once everything is flowing, the circle of users can get bigger and bigger.
If at each stage, the person trying to introduce the next one, gets asked questions like, I tried to send my relative some bus fare and they can't create an invoice because their phone is not charged, they'll just give up and choose the "pain" of using fiat cause the money is needed there and then. So it ends up becoming a thing for different large groups of bitcoiners spread over Africa (mainly in large cities) to use and solves a few issues here and there, but never really takes off on its own.
So, what has all this got to do with custodial wallets? Well, it's important to set the context first. When thinking about the problem that needs solving, which is getting villages across Africa (who actually really need lightning) to use it, what matters the most is the trade-offs and how they impact the UX.
Before going through the trade-offs, this is what we learned about them in this context:
Why? Well, first of all, what are the main trade-offs? a) self-custody b) privacy c) no-kyc d) LNURL support and e) requires running your own node or knowledge of how to connect to one
Let's focus on (a) self-custody, since that's the title of this post. Starting with 2a, for bitcoin. Imagine a custodial bitcoin wallet. So you buy bitcoin on an exchange (excluding Relai). You don't even know if it's there because you don't have the address. All you see is a number on a screen. That's rug-pull and counter-party risk 101. But a custodial lightning wallet (1a), well first of all, the "node provider" (not exchange) is not "selling tokens". It's not the same type of risk. Secondly, you're not storing large amounts like you would on a bitcoin wallet. So if you get rugged and lose your lunch money, mom sends you some more tomorrow, big deal. Of course, 20 years from now when a single SAT is worth a hell of a lot more, it will be a different story, but we're talking about present time. Also, the most downloaded wallets are well publicised in the community. Scammers don't really get much traction. If people's funds were to disappear from a wallet one day, within hours everyone will know about it and that will be the last time anyone used that one. Remember these users will be spending their sats day to day. Phase 2 next year will be the savings account (btc self custodial).
More importantly, we're educating and onboarding users that have never even heard of bitcoin before. It's all about, 'here is the wallet, now go'!! Watch @JoeNakamoto's videos on Twitter and you'll know what we mean. The point is, once a small community is onboarded and a circular economy has been created, there will be plenty of time to move up the "trade-off ladder".
So we started off with Muun which we thought was great and wrote a nice blog post about it. After using it for a while, we noticed it sucked for our needs. We even helped them fix a bug, hats off to them for their quick response. This is what one of their devs sent us (after the bug fix):
Muun: "You are trying to scan an LNURL-pay which Muun doesn't support at the moment. Muun mistakenly reads the QR code as an LNURL-withdraw, which we do support. We'll fix it. Thanks for reporting it."
That's where we started understanding why lighting still has a bit of way to go. The difference between LNURL-pay and LNURL-withdraw, that's way too technical for your average, everyday users.
We then realized that Wallet of Satoshi actually works pretty well. The only reason we had dismissed it initially was because it was custodial. So we've changed our mind now. Or we've realised that this is a small trade-off which is well worth it to facilitate mass adoption.
There is one UX problem which is that freaking long LNRUL. If only someone could copy their wallet concept where the onboarding is so fast and simple, but register a 3-letter domain, we would switch immediately. Luckily, there's no "wallet loyalty" required for the users and no switching costs. They can just transfer their balance to the new address or spend to 0, then download a new one. The best product will win in the end and other wallets will continue to be great for other types of users with more sophisticated needs, win-win for everyone.
The most important trade-off for us is actually 1c) no-kyc. In the west, the majority of people don't think much about kyc, because its part of life and they're used to it. In Africa, kyc bureaucracy excludes the majority of the population from financial services. This one's 100% non-negotiable for us and also what makes btc and lightning so different. In the btc world, custodial wallets almost always require kyc. Lightning has finally made btc usable and the foss movement will truly change the world.
Then (1d) LNURL is important only because it's the way to send sats without generating an invoice. The invoice-generating thing is a shop or store use case. In the majority of cases, you just want to send someone money the way you've always been able to do it, first with a lot of pain (WU), then with much less pain (WR and MoMo), but never before did you need the recipient to first generate an invoice. So (d) is more of a UX issue, but UX is super important for our mission.
So for now, we'll go with Wallet of Satoshi and if you have any ideas, feel free to reach out, our DMs are open.
Next challenge - what's the easiest, non-KYC way to go from fiat to sats (not fiat to btc)?
Nice write up! Agree with you that for quick onboarding is easier and reliable to use a custodial or semi-custodial LN wallet.
I myself onboarded hundreds of nocoiners during all these 10+ years I have in Bitcoinlandia.
And that's why I start writing Bitcoin guides for all these ex-nocoiners that now want to learn more.
For your next experiments, please consider reading these guides and even shgare with your noobs:
Thanks for the recommendations. Great stuff, great agenda for sending to some of my friends and peers over here that don't have tech background like myself. Thats exactly what we need to catch up with this fast moving development. Greets from Málaga.
Just reading through all the content now.
These are some amazing guides, really great work!!
This is exactly what we needed at the beginning. I think our users be fine from here.
Thank you so much!
Great home work for the next few days :)
When (not if) Australian government sends a cop to WoS and demands kyc all your villagers' money is gone. Well, not technically gone but up in the air until kyc is completed, which will of course never happen. Yeah, I get it, spending wallet, lunch money etc. but just like with FTX, psychological damage might exceed financial damage. "If those bitcoin guys can't be trusted with small amounts, do I, an African villager, want to go anywhere near them with significant amounts?"
Muun isn't a lightning wallet. You've literally attempted to use a non-lightning wallet for lightning and then immediately given up to a custodial wallet. You might want to check actual non-custodial ligntning wallets (Breez for example).
If you insist on custodial solutions, I think it's better for custodians in this case to be local. People want familiar faces to punch. You might eventually want https://fedi.xyz when it works (Obi is Nigerian, he gets what people need). For now this might suffice but I don't know much about it: https://github.com/GaloyMoney/
Thanks for the input. "Trade-off ladder" means start off with WoS until you get familiar with the concept and how to receive/spend sats, on ramp, off ramp to fiat, then move up to a non-custodial one when ready. It doesn't mean use WoS forever.
We tried a bunch of other non-custodial walles before we settled for WoS. None of them were simple to use. Heard about Fedi, but it's not ready yet and no idea how long that will take. Breez literally has a Beta Warning when you start it stating "there's a chance your money will be lost, use app only if willing to take the risk", not the best way to get new people started.
Our challenge is not getting what people need, we've been sending remittances to Africa for over 10 years, it's mainly the UX where the problem lies.
Phoenix is super easy to use. What was your issue with Phoenix?
Phoenix would have been great, but 2 main issues for us.
Has 24 fiat currencies listed and not a single one of them is African. If you're used to buying a bag of rice for x amount, you'll want to see that amount displayed alongside the sats. Also your balance.
First payment you receive must be at least 10k sat. Not an issue for us during the testing phase, but might exclude some of the users we're trying to help for taking part in the circular economy. And without every single person included, we can't get mass adoption.
I think if they can fix (1), we could probably manage (2) via donations.
But agreed, Phoenix definitely one of the best.
So I don't know have technical your team is, but if its technical enough, you guys could fork Phoenix and be the "LSP" (Lightning Service Provider) instead. https://github.com/ACINQ/phoenix
and for 2, I can imagine that donation message now. "Your donation of 10k sats or more could help someone using a custodial account get a lightning wallet" the maxi in me that hates custodial would go send send send
Thanks for the suggestion. We've got one js-developer, but he's not worked with that stack before, although everything can be learned over time. The only issue with forking code is you then have to be able to maintain it and do bug fixes, we haven't got the resources to do that on a long-term basis. But great idea and good to know about the possibilities. Didn't realize Phoenix was open-source.
You could also probably just open an issue on the github page asking for the addition of whatever African currencies you need.
Thanks, need to make a note and get this done
A dev team would certainly be open to adding a certain currency if you ask!
Good point, we might reach out to Phoenix directly
Got it, thanks.
Firstly, sats are BTC. I am thinking by that though you are asking about methods to acquire bitcoin on Lightning network (LN) without having to provide identity/KYC? If so, then yes -- there are fewer options, which are usually more complicated. The options available vary greatly between countries/jurisdictions. In Africa, I can sum it up in one paragraph:
RoboSats app (or using Tor browser to access their site) for P2P trading is not something that would pass the "mom test". But it is available globally -- so it is an option for those with that level of interest. Otherwise, the methods are FastBitcoins (Uganda, and Kenya) and Azte.co (Botswana, Cameroon, Eswatini, Kenya, Lesotho, Namibia, Nigeria and South Africa). Azteco voucher codes are redeemable through Machankura, I believe. Otherwise, they can be redeemed using the Azteco web site by giving it an LN Invoice. Both methods incur a fee that is not insignificant though (e.g., I think in the range of 7% above spot for Azteco).
So that's it ... that's the extent of methods for going from fiat directly to bitcoin on LN, from within Africa, without needing to provide identity/KYC.
There are a couple other exchange methods where LN is supported, but they require identity/KYC: Bitnob (Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and I think support for a handful more countries was just added), Landifa (Namibia), and Paxful.
This is a temporary need though. When there's a circular economy and a shop has revenues in bitcoin, that can provide the liquidity needed by a trader locally who could then turn around and sell those bitcoin for cash (including mobile money transfer as a payment method). Or the shop could just sell the bitcoin to others themselves (albeit that might introduce other concerns for them, especially with current climate regarding bitcoin/cryptocurrencies in most African countries). But in Zimbabwe, for example, there are foreign currency exchange traders who also trade bitcoin (informally), and their job is made easier when they can find a local supply of bitcoin from merchants who are paid in bitcoin and others who have a continuous supply (e.g, bitcoin miners).
You may find this list to be of use:
Bitcoin Exchange Methods In Africa https://kenyacoin.medium.com/bitcoin-exchange-methods-in-africa-39ec3bbb859b
First of all, thanks for all these tips, these are all really great. We'll skip all the kyc ones because they are limited to certain counties. It needs to be something that anyone can use, as long as you have an internet connection. There are also other reasons we're avoiding the kyc, but saving that for another post.
P2P trading is not actually that bad. There was a time when localbitcoins did not require kyc, then suddenly a few years back they changed. LB was pretty simple to use, so we were hoping someone would invent something similar for lightning. Yes, one btc is made up of 100M sats, but its different protocols on different networks, so the integration is not seamless and requires software to swap one for the other. So when discussing usability and how to onboard people its important to make the distinction to avoid confusion so they don't try to send bitcoin to a lightning address.
The reason why P2P "trading" would pass the mom test is because it doesn't have to be trading. Someone could use it just once a week, or whenever they need. There are a bunch of people selling btc and if you can find a trustworthy one, then you start re-using that one. We've already tested this in Africa and it worked quite well (but again, that was btc and we were looking for lightning).
The way we're using it in this context is that, the local villagers would only be using sats, because that solves all of their "daily needs". However, the shop owner would accumulate larger amounts over time and eventually has to go to fiat because they need to stock the shop from larger suppliers. They are more "capable" when it comes to phones, money and currency conversions and this action is only done a few times per month so that makes it doable. Whereas the daily shoppers just need something fast and quick.
Just had a look at your medium post, really awesome, thanks a lot. This is the type of material we've been looking for, great that stacker.news results in this. Your content together with the content provided by @DarthCoin is the combination that will make this successful.
Am I following what you are saying there? If so, that's incorrect.
At the bitcoin (on-chain) protocol level, there is no such thing as a BTC. There are only sats. It is the client that can use a unit of "BTC" to represent 100,000,000 sats. But there are on-chain bitcoin clients that either let you choose which unit (sats, BTC, even some permit "bits").
So it's not "sats" for Lightning and "BTC" for on-chain. It's sats where they call it sats, and it is BTC where they refer to 100,000,000 sats as 1 BTC. And that applies the same whether that is for on-chain or Lightning network.
I haven't used it yet but you might find LNUrlPOS interesting. If you aren't already familiar with it, here's the link:
LNPoS - Free and open-source bitcoin point-of-sale https://github.com/lnbits/LNPoS
For remaining free from having to provide identity/KYC, then currently on-chain P2P platforms are where the majority of that type of conversion to fiat occurs. It's trivially easy for a non-technical person though to swap sats on Lighting network for on-chain, using boltz.exchange, or to even use something like Wallet of Satoshi or CoinOS.io even. A small fee occurs. There are various methods that exist -- see the methods with the ⚡ emoji from the following list:
Instant Exchanges / Swap Services which do not require identity verification / KYC https://github.com/cointastical/KYC-Free-Instant-Exchanges
In that "need something fast and quick", is that "something" meaning some method of acquiring bitcoin? If so, why would a daily shopper want to acquire bitcoin with fiat only to then turn around and spend that bitcoin? Or am I misunderstanding that?
Regarding the on-chain / off-chain part, you're absolutely correct (thanks for the clarification). Agreed about btc and sats just being about units of measurement and you could even collect 21 btc together and call it a 'drop', which would mean there will only ever be '1M drops' created. So, the point was related more to the on/off-chain part and the integration. You still need to swap one for the other, right? On these clients that let you change how the balance is displayed to sats/btc, they would still be either on-chain or off-chain, not both, is that right? Meaning even if the client supports both, one balance will either be an on-chain balance or an off-chain one. Will keep it simple and use on-chain sats/off-chain sats in the future.
The LNPoS looks really cool. This is definitely a candidate for testing and will try to raise some funds to order the hardware.
CoinOS and boltz both look very interesting, 0.1% fee with an account vs 0.5% fee without one. Looks really simple, so thanks for those suggestions.
For your last question about the "daily shopper", let me explain the use case and hopefully the flow will make more sense. So, in a village, your average user previously used 100% cash for their transactions, which is now 20% cash and 80% mobile money. What mobile money allows them to do, is receive funds from their relatives who have moved out of the village and live in the city. They can then go and spend these funds locally in the village, because every market stall accepts mobile money. So, they are not necessarily earning anything, but mainly receiving help. In this case, they will not be acquiring sats with fiat. They will be receiving sats directly in their wallet from the breadwinner. Secondly, they will not be converting it to fiat. They will be spending it in the local shops or market stalls. The only people that will be converting to fiat would be the ones that need to trade with larger suppliers who are not integrated into the small local economy. So, there will be a small number of users that can get 70% of their needs met with transactions on the lightning network. So there is a flow of funds that go in to the local economy (both from cities in the same country, but also from relatives that live abroad). Then there is a flow of funds out of the local economy. All these other solutions will be used by those that also have to trade with both people and businesses / government institutions outside of the network.
Thanks again for the list of all the non-KYC instant exchanges. Will take a while to go though all of them.
I see. A remittance, just not a cross-border remittance. And where mobile money is available (and ubiquitous, which is not assured yet even where mobile money is available), the sender already has funds on their mobile money account, or can deposit cash at a mobile money agent location.
About the only edge bitcoin would have over that is the fees for the sender to transfer mobile money and the fee for the recipient to withdraw cash (when not spending using mobile money instead, in which case it's another fee for a transfer, unless it is for a merchant payment where the merchant pays).
So the kind of brings me back to my earlier question. Why would the breadwinner (remittance sender) buy bitcoin for this rather than just use mobile money? If the breadwinner were earning in bitcoin, then there's an obvious reason -- when you earn in bitcoin, you tend to want to spend (and send) in bitcoin. But there's still little reason for this breadwinner to go through the friction of acquiring bitcoin in order for it to be used for a payment essentially immediately thereafter, at least not when mobile money is available (and ubiquitous). That doesn't mean some bitcoin enthusiasts won't do it to try and help bitcoin adoption or whatever, but that's not enough to drive a circular economy into being.
Not everyone has mobile money though so there's places where this approach has a greater likelihood of success than others. And not every merchant (e.g., hawker, informal market participant) will accept mobile money -- cash is king (and maintains financial privacy), so that is one use case where bitcoin is a better alternative than the remittance recipient having to convert the funds received into cash before shopping.
One thing that is not uncommon in Kenya is these digital lending apps. So I could see the breadwinner borrowing in bitcoin, sending that bitcoin for the remittance, and then later needing to acquire bitcoin to repay the loan (plus interest and fee). In Kenya there was so much of this occurring and many unscrupulous players that they cracked down by causing Google and Apple to remove each app until they've been certified by the gov't agency overseeing that. I don't think a bitcoin lender would get approved, but who knows. Just thought I would share that though because that's one on-ramp into a bitcoin circular economy that doesn't seem to get discussed much, but probably could get considered further.
There's another couple of approaches to this as well. "Trusted Agent Network" is doing this with their BMT shitcoin -- essentially creating a network of agents similar to a mobile money agent network. Beyond their announcement several years ago partnering with Akon (promiting his Akoin shitcoin), I haven't hear anything about them since. I have no idea if the users can do this free of identity verification/KYC. https://my.tanagent.com/nigeria
And similar to that is FonBnk, which lets a person top up airtime on their phone, then use that airtime as payment method to buy FonBnk's MIN 'stablecoin", and from there exchanged for a USD stablecoin. Once again, this is total shitcoinery, but I share it simply to explain other methods of on-ramp / off-ramp friction that have been attempted. FonBnk does require identity verification/KYC though.
Maybe your use case is a use case for a Lightning ATM? https://twitter.com/thelightningatm I don't know how that could work with paper currency, but again -- just sharing an approach for an on-ramp that can be free of identity verification/KYC.
Nice solution, but needs hard physical cash. If someone could build one that is digital and coverts layer 2 sats to mobile money that would be far better for this environment.
Haha, yeah whatever happened to Akoin City? That thing just disappeared into thin air, much like most other tokens do. He should have just launched it with bitcoin, with all that investment probably would have got more traction. Haven't heard about "Trusted Agent Network", but it looks like a closed solution.
Yup, understood. It's worth looking at what they're doing with getting in and out of fiat, although the P2P bitcoin trading platforms might be best option we've got. Since transfers are done with Mobile Money which also requires kyc, this will probably be OK for the user that has already gone through that process when they got their sim card. There will be lower amount users that can spend their sats to 0 until they get more (without kyc) and higher amount users on the edge of the circle that need to convert to fiat every now and then, probably travel frequently to cities and have the necessary paper work.
Interesting use case. Did a quick search and read "CBK announces that only 10 digital loan companies have been licensed". Does this mean they are still operational? What is the CBK's current stance on bitcoin? Have they taken a position for/against or are they neutral?
Great question. This means that it is more likely to succeed internationally than within a specific region, apart from those cases where there is friction. There are a few cases locally, for example, one is when they are dealing with larger amounts. There is a lot of fraud on Mobile Money, because people that work for the mobile network operators see the messages being transmitted and the mobile numbers and get paid to share this information. The privacy offered by Lightning is a great use case to bypass that fiat system here. Essentially mobile money is just a fiat system, but the banks are being replaced by MNOs.
First question is how does bitcoin get in to the ecosystem in the first place? a) Earn (very rare) b) Buy (most of cases, but mainly done by traders for a profit or bitcoiners holding for the long-term) c) Donations (quite rare using bitcoin, but there is an existing $30B market in international remittances that is ripe for disruption)
Second question is, once it's in the system, does the recipient (d) keep it in their wallet, (e) spend it, or (f) convert it to fiat?
The only way the recipient does not convert it to fiat is if they can spend it the same way they spend their cash or mobile money. That's why we want to onboard the merchant/informal market participant first. Anyway, it's still early stages so we'll see how it goes and write a new post after the first trial.
I don't know whether Google and Apple have yet kicked the "unlicensed" apps off yet. Not sure. But those 10 so far will be permitted to continue operating in Kenya.
They have a "circular" / memo from 2015 that prohibits the banks from servicing exchanges, traders, and pretty much any business that does anything related to bitcoin ("virtual currency"). The central bank governor that implemented that is gone in a few months (term limit), so it will depend on who is chosen to replace him and what their position on bitcoin will be. Kenya is heavily in debt so it will not diverge much from what the IMF's wants them to say. But they've been hands-off for the most part with mobile money. P2P traders using mobile money have only gotten in trouble when they were receiving funds for bitcoin where the buyer had fraudulent/stolen funds. Ya, that happens. I think the charges against the sellers that got caught up in that were eventually dismissed.
That's really where the problem lies -- globally, for circular economies to form and grow organically.
Anywhoo ... check out this Telegram group (from Galoy), if you aren't already in it.
I agree with @om, use WoS could be dangerous over three long term, even if the UX is the ideal one to bootstrap newcomers. Users are lazy, is not true that they will change as soon they grasp the custodial implications.
Why don't go custodial but with a structure you manage as a trusted part? For example you could use OBW + hosted channels (and you manage the hosted channel).
Perhaps you can even fork and personalize it to simplify the startup process (directly choose the hosted channel), tweak language and currency, personalize the project brand to make it recognizable. The wallet could then add a learn section and alert and teach the user how to migrate to full self custody (standard channels) as soon the balance go over a certainly value.
Yeah, it's hard to balance the benefits vs drawbacks of WoS, but over the long term, self-custody is the way forward.
Could you provide more info about OBW? Not familiar with it.
@DarthCoin has the patience of a Sith Lord and calls me a shitcoiner every time we happen to be in the same thread but the Bitcoin is really strong with that one. In addition to all his stuff you've already read, check out these:
I'd like to add to this proposal that if you can build Phoenix, adding new currencies should be relatively easy.
Can't remember when I was calling you a shitcoiner. Maybe you were meddling too much with shitcoiners and you fall mistakenly in that confusion. I will sorry if was my mistake.
It's alright, don't apologize. I don't expect you to remember me at all, and I do in fact have a nonzero amount of something other than Bitcoin (gasp). Keep writing great guides please!
Thx for the suggestions, much appreciated!
https://github.com/nbd-wtf/obw https://github.com/nbd-wtf/poncho https://t.me/openbitcoinwallet https://darthcoin.substack.com/p/obw-open-bitcoin-wallet
Let's start here!
On this topic, have you looked into the Bitcoin beach model? Have you tried reaching out to Galoy for support?
Someone else mentioned that here. Haven't looked into that yet. Still got our hands full with all the suggestions from @KenyaCoin and @DarthCoin.
Did you think about to mixing WoS with BitcoinBeach Wallet ? It has many advantages IMO compared ton only WoS:
Thanks for the suggestion. We had not thought about that.
Every suggestion is welcome. A bit of testing is needed to find an end-to-end flow that can be used on a daily basis in a small circular economy.
I enjoyed reading this, and decided to upvote. If I may add: hosted channels come with only 1 trade off no self custody but you can keep your privacy, lnurl afaik and no kyc (for now?) So that's all I wanted to add. Take care.
Thanks, will look into those
Wonderful post! This actually stimulates more me to continue educating nocoiners...and also to build bitc-based bussineses. I'm from the Northern part of Nigeria. You wouldn't want to know and experience the hardship we are going through, especially during this general election period. People hardly talk about btc due to the government restrictions. Unfortunately, you need to see how shitcoins are making progress here.
Thank you, once again, for highlighting the challenges and some of the trade-offs solutions. But for sure, btc education must be supplemented with rapid adoption.
Thanks for your feedback.
It's really great to hear stories like this about the reality on the ground. Over time, we will publish our learnings so that they can help others trying to facilitate adoption.
on a long enough time-scale, all custodial services will either a) kyc, b) exit scam, or c) get hacked
and if they grow to a certain size, kyc is guaranteed
local exchangers who can turn physical cash into sats. this means doing the legwork of building up a local market of exchangers who hold inventories of sats and are willing to meet with people / maintain a storefront and do the exchanges.
otherwise, there are a bunch of options at https://kycnot.me/ , things like azteco, and bitcoin teller machines.
This is unfortunate, but probably true
What an awesome page, bookmarked, thanks!
There is actually a couple of ways to initiate a spend on the sender side, the older
AMPatomic multi-path payments (which obviously fan out when needed if channels aren't wide enough).
I don't know why exactly these methods are not supported by most (any?) wallets. They just require 33 bytes receiver key, and an amount of mSAT. A vendor is going to issue an invoice for payment in some form or another anyway. Most uses of these sender initiated payments relate to privacy reasons or recurring microservices and probably belong more in applications that access subscription based content and services. VPN, tipping platforms, etc.
It isn't really negotiable to do without internet connectivity though. And when it is patchy, so long as you have wifi at the point of sale the user just has to connect to it and off you go.
Also, Wallet of Satoshi is by far the 100% Mom lightning wallet. Since it is easy also to move funds through it on chain, one can keep just "lunch money" on it, and NBD if it's lost or stolen. Anyway, one should definitely keep larger amounts on chain and preferably in cold storage, at home.
They've all got internet connectivity, that's one of our minimum requirements. But it's not WiFi, it's all via the mobile network.
The part we're not sure about is how the MNOs handle the network traffic. Basically, people buy "bundles" (ripped off by the MNOs) and they don't provide them with unlimited data. These bundles exclude different types of traffic, for example, there could be a bundle that includes WhatsApp, but not YT (streaming).
Since lightning could "easily" replace MoMo, it actually competes with them directly and we're pretty sure they will find a way to block it if it becomes successful. But it could be that the packets on the network level are indistinguishable from other packets (haven't gone that deep yet), which would make lighting censorship resistant.
Just to explain the flow of transactions, a lot of these villagers are helped by relatives who work in the city or even abroad. So the monthly top-up is usually provided remotely with no PoS involved. The problem here (when comparing fiat to lightning) is this is normally where they take those funds and go and buy something. With sats they would be stuck unless the shop accepts it. So, if they accept sats, then the flow continues and people can actually send sats to each other (that are not sourced from wealthier people outside the village) because they know that anyone else will be able to spend them in the shop.
However, everyone including the shop (which usually is just a market stall) will be using internet from the mobile network and not WiFi. So if it only uses data when you spend, then that would be fine, but if it's constantly pinging the network and running in the background then that would be a real issue as it would spend all their data very quickly.
Yes, custodial also means a reduction in total traffic volume, since you only have to communicate to make a send/receive. Since network surveillance technology is expensive the only concern is that authorities don't attack the users when they are seen using it.
There is plenty of low tech ways to eliminate this problem. Paying forward, a running tab with settlement shortly after the trade...
High tech solutions don't really much exist, but certainly it's conceivable one can have open wifi hotspots attached to servers that the community uses for this purpose, concentrating their resources to have just ONE p2p node in their network and everyone connecting to it to send transactions across.
I'm sure that there is someone thinking towards these ends. Breez is building open source software that can do the aggregation, all that's needed is a mobile client that can interact with the wireless adapter, connect to hotspots tagged with some code that the client recognises as being a bitcoin/LN server and connect and avoid mobile data usage.
It's amazing to see the progress that is being made in Africa when it comes to lightning and bitcoin. I'm so inspired by the people in the region who are doing the hard work to make it easier for those who are not tech-savvy to get access to financial services. It's great to hear about the different wallets that are being used to make this process easier. Thanks for the insight into the trade-offs and the challenges that are being faced when it comes to introducing lightning to Africa. I'm sure this will be a great success!
Great to hear. Thx.
I plan on going though all these points you have cause while I agree generally there’s some aspects I think are too strong.
First one — “the trade-offs in an African environment are slightly different from the trade-offs in the western world”
The trade offs referenced are usually around infrastructure, intermittent internet connections, electricity, transport (shipments and land).
Additionally the income opportunities, education/exposure and earnings are factors which impact the way technology is built.
These factors aren’t so differnt from rural American or other opportunity places though.
"These factors aren’t so differnt from rural American or other opportunity places though"
Good point! Agreed. Probably similar infrastructure challenges, although access to high-end smartphones and cost of unlimited internet via the mobile network probably easier in rural US than an African village.
Great read. It's great to see a thorough analysis like this coming from a boots on the field point of view instead of a keyboard warrior one. I share many of your points in trying to onboard users and I myself have also let go the tension on the custodianship requirements in the early stages.
I haven't heard about this "Lightning Village" you mention. Could you please explain a bit more about it?
Thanks for the feedback. It's an experiment created to introduce LN into a village in Africa where a circular economy can be created. Most of the inhabitants shop from the same places every day, so if we can get these places to accept lightning then we can start onboarding the villagers. The idea is to get a working model of real adoption (i.e. they replace Mobile Money usage with LN), share the learnings from that so the model can be re-used all over the continent. We wrote it more detail here - https://geyser.fund/entry/864
what I would do today to totally secure my LN funds would be to just run one Bitcoin and a CLN machine and take it from there. Now you Are the bank. Like this site for example. You don't have a LN wallet here to say. It's in the DB as it should be. Again you dont need to worry. Stacker News have u peeps coverd aightr! This is the way to do it today. Maybe, in distant future it will be diffeerent!? Like you could have your personal wallet url or something. BOLY12 is around the corner sup evybad?
I agree. I teach self-custody for on-chain wallets, but I suggest custodial lightning for newbies, as well as custodial apps for merchants to accept payments. It all depends on the use case.
I'll be reading your post again and again cuz this is where adoption will spread like wildfire. Imagine you got a smartphone in for example Burkina Faso, les say and u download Wallet Of Satoshi, and boom suddeny u can send money to alll around the world wtf. come on.
100%, exactly what we thought, it's gonna happen
110% adoption happens where adoption is needed, there are scumbag banks trying to get the people to sign whatever bs documents they have for people but they wevcerytime eant tot scam people cuzz where do bank peope get their money, that's goddam right son, scammin peoeple. hey, cmoon what if u don't need to sign any papers cuz of freaking internet and computers. daaah.!!?
just like that
yes, I think Wallet of Satoshi would be my go to LN custodial wallet, for now, also I haven't been checking in much frequently on the LN wallets out there but hey maan, Big Freaking Props to you man trying to go about it in Africa. This would be a dream come true to to me If I got there. Helping the world out of turmoil, one country at a time man. This is the way. Fuck alll them who don't here us screaming now. There are countires out there who will listen.
lets help all the ones that wanna have help
With Blue wallet you can top up your lightning wallet with sats very easily. They call it refill. Convert your on-chain bitcoin from the same wallet into sats, or from any external source. Blue wallet also utilizes LNDHub and LNBits for it's node connectivity.
LNDHub and LNBits both run on full nodes as I understand... with LNBits you can use it to create LNURLs I think? https://github.com/lnbits/lnbits/tree/main/lnbits/extensions/lnaddress
Easiest method for me to get non-KYC sats from fiat would be robosats. It forces you to use TOR basically as privacy is paramount. If revolut is available... that's a common payment method for sats. (not on-chain but LN).
Perfect! Thanks for the input, we'll add this to the list for testing on the ground.
Wallet of Satoshi UX >
Yeah I've been working on adding lightning payments to apps for non-bitcoiners, have started to come to same conclusion: best entry wallet is the easiest one to onboard noobs.
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Great insights, thx for sharing
Nice to hear, thanks