World Wide Web Consortium is Actively Working On Lightning Network-Enabled Bitcoin Payments

  • The Word Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is planning to add Lightning Network-enabled Bitcoin (BTC) payments to its API for web browsers.
  • The Lightning Network (LN) is still in its early stages of development, and it will take time before it works effectively, bitcoin developers said.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international body focused on developing standards and protocols for the internet, has reportedly been working on making it easier for users to make payments from web browsers.

W3C is also creating an API that will support bitcoin (BTC) payments made via the Lightning Network (LN) (a second layer solution to enable faster bitcoin transactions). The international standards organization aims to enable LN support for bitcoin payments in the most commonly used browsers including Google Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

Having More Payment Options

Although the W3C is not focused on improving a specific payment method such as credit cards, Apply Pay, or cryptocurrencies, the consortium does want to give software developers more options including using the LN to make BTC payments.

Notably, the W3C’s Web Payments Working Group has been actively recruiting bitcoin developers so that they can help add LN support for BTC transactions to the consortium’s API.

According to the W3C, its API might soon support cryptocurrency payments made via the LN as its developers appear to have made substantial progress in integrating the second-layer payment network into web browsers.

Dr. Christian Decker, a well-known Lightning Network developer, sent out an email in August to other programmers to inform them about the second-layer payment network’s ongoing development.

Bitcoin And Lightning May Work "Without Any Major Roadblocks"

Decker, who currently works as an engineer at blockchain technology firm, Blockstream, wrote: "All in all, we should be able to get bitcoin and lightning working with the [specification] without any major roadblocks."

As a member of the Web Payments Working Group, Decker thinks it is important that modern web-based payment systems support cryptocurrency transactions. He told Coindesk

This is exciting because switching between traditional payments and bitcoins and lightning payments could basically be a single click and make it easier for merchants to accept bitcoin alongside these traditional methods.

Dr. Christian Decker

Blockchain-Based Currencies Must Be Included In Modern Payments Systems

As CryptoGlobe reported in August, CEO Andreas Brekken had said the Lightning Network is currently “impractical even for highly technical users.” After testing the LN to make BTC payments, Brekken found that its software had many glitches and there was a very high rate of transaction failure.

However, it appears that progress is being made to improve the LN, and an increasing number of people now consider cryptocurrencies to be a legitimate payment method. Ian Jacobs, the payments activity head at the W3C, noted:

The architecture is designed to enable new payment methods to be used on the web. That should include blockchain-based payment methods.

Ian Jacobs

As CryptoGlobe covered, Pierre Rochard, an experienced software engineer, revealed that he had been working on a software program called Neutrino that allows users to make LN-enabled BTC payments from Microsoft Excel.

Rochard also informed his followers on Twitter that Neutrino was in its early stages of development, and it would take more time before it starts working effectively.

Bitcoin Veteran Peter Todd: Reducing Bitcoin’s Block Size to 300KB Is a “Dumb Idea”

Peter ToDD.png

Peter Todd is a Bitcoin veteran. Describing himself as an Applied Cryptography Consultant, Peter has been interested in digital money ever since he read Adam Back’s seminal Hashcash paper as a teenager. Having spent a lot of time himself thinking about how to create a digital currency - when the bitcoin paper was released in 2009, Peter realized that the solution had been found.

Formerly a Bitcoin Core developer, Peter has emerged as one of the most prominent voices in the space, regularly providing a more technically-based commentary to the changing winds of the crypto scene.

Short, sharp and to the point, Peter answered a few of my questions about bitcoin, crypto more broadly, and what the future holds for the industry.

Avi Rosten: How did you get into crypto?

Peter Todd: Via the Freenet Project, back in highschool. Like any good civics/democracy minded high schooler would be, I believed in freedom of speech and Freenet was an obvious way to promote that.

AR: What are some of the developments in the crypto space in the past couple of years that you find most interesting?

PT: Lightning is probably the biggest one. Monero and Zcash second, although remember that "interesting" doesn't necessarily mean "good".

AR: What do you think about recent talk by some Bitcoin Core developers around reducing Bitcoin's block size?

PT:  Some? I think you mean basically just one, Luke. I think it's a dumb idea that's a mere tweak at high cost.

(Peter explained a little more expansively in this interview for the WhatBitcoinDid Podcast why he doesn’t like small block sizes: “I think his technical arguments for that are good, but I think he doesn’t understand the social side of that, which essentially makes it impossible.")

AR: When the bitcoin block reward eventually goes to 0, will mining fees act as enough of an incentive?

PT: Maybe? Maybe not? It'd certainly have been less risky to have some small perpetual inflation, or at least a Monero-like "tail emission"

AR: What do you think of the Lightning network? Will it enable bitcoin to become a widely-used medium of exchange?

PT: How widely used is widely used? Bitcoin is already a fairly widely-used medium of exchange amongst use-cases that need it - lots of services and people at risk of censorship use it, from Patreon alternatives to file hosting sites.

If you're talking about replacing credit cards and the like, it'll probably never happen.

AR: Do you think Bitcoin should incorporate some privacy features or do you think it would make Bitcoin less useful as financial regulators might then treat it as a privacy coin e.g. Japan's FSA's order to exchanges not to deal with privacy coins?

PT: From a purely technical perspective most of what people think of as "privacy features" are risky to implement, with a high chance of a bug leading to the destruction of the entire system. Monero has already had one inflation bug, and Zcash has had two (including the one caught just prior to initial release).

On the other hand, Bitcoin already has many onchain privacy features, ranging  from the UTXO model to various technical things that make Lightning possible. And on the second layer, having at least some level of privacy isn't just a feature, it's mandatory: without decent privacy you can't get scaling, as to scale you have to make transaction data less widely distributed.

AR: What do you think of the two most recent implementations of the MimbleWimble protocol (Beam and Grin)? If the community decided that Bitcoin needed to have these privacy features, what do you think would be the best way to implement them?

PT: I just don't see that happening for another 5-10 years. These protocols are just too new to trust for something as valuable as the entire Bitcoin system. Better to adopt them as additional layers, as Liquid has done.

AR: If you wanted to work with smart contracts, which of the existing platforms would you use? Ethereum, EOS, TRON, Rootstock (RSK) ...?

PT: They're all bad. Their idea of smart contracts doesn't make much sense for most applications. Lightning is currently the best example of a smart contract system in production, and the on-chain scripts it uses are trivial.

There's very little reason to have complex on-chain smart contract schemes.

AR: What’s your biggest criticism of Ethereum?

PT: See the previous question.

It's just not a model that makes much sense.

AR: How do you think crypto news and media could improve?

I'd say get more competent journalists and give them more time and resources to write articles. But realistically, where's the money to do that going to come from?