It is a simple equation for Blockstream Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) Samson Mow. Bitcoin is bad for payments; it can be expensive and slow, and that’s not what you need when buying that first cup of coffee. However, the Lightning Network can change all that and usher in a new era for Bitcoin.
To this day, the debate rages on whether Bitcoin is digital gold, or if it will come back down to earth and fill its intended role as a peer-to-peer electronic cash system. Fundamentally, Bitcoin has a lot going for it in terms of being digital gold and an investable asset, and some of those things come from being a lousy payment system.
Bitcoin has, in times of intense interest, seen its fees go up to as much $30 per transaction – again, pretty useless when buying coffee. With this expense, the blockchain usually gets bogged down, and transactions can take hours to confirm.
For this reason, people have been happy to hold onto the coin, hope for some exciting rallies in prices, and perhaps take some profit off the top now and again. Even Mow concedes he has not really found a day-to-day use for Bitcoin, preferring credit and debit cards for his purchases.
But, that can all change with the Lightning Network, insists Mow. This scaling solution for Bitcoin can allow for instantaneous and virtually free transfers, making it ideal for that cup of coffee. So, while it may be a starry-eyed dream to go into Starbucks and flash your Lightning-enabled BTC wallet to pay, it has far bigger reaches should it come to fruition.
Adoption may be on the rise with institutional investors, according to Coinbase anyway, but there is still a large swath of the population that could do some driving in regards to picking up Bitcoin. Perhaps, if Bitcoin did have a more practical use, like being a payment system, it would indeed start to challenge traditional money as first envisaged.
Mow is saying what a lot of us already know, but he is also maintaining that Bitcoin needs to be the adopted cryptocurrency of choice for payments – not Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, or even Libra.
On the launch of Libra, Mow said in a series of tweets “Libra is so screwed” after concluding that Mark Zuckerberg had no clear idea of what he is building in regards to Facebook’s cryptocurrency
“Libra can’t be everything for everyone, and it can’t be both open and closed at the same time.”