Bitcoin’s Lightning Network Comes to the Apple Watch

Siamak Masnavi

On Sunday (May 5), BlueWallet Services released a new version (v4.0.0) of its Bitcoin and Lightning wallet for iOS, which is called "BlueWallet"; this “milestone” release comes with an Apple Watch app that allows users to generate Lightning invoices directly on the watch.

What is BlueWallet?

BlueWallet is an open source (MIT-licensed) mobile Bitcoin wallet that was created as the result of a collaboration between UX Designer and Product manager Nuno Coelho (based in Barcelona) and developers Igor Korsakov (based in London) and Marcos Rodriguez (based in Atlanta). 

In a blog post published on December 3, Coelho explained the motivation behind BlueWallet:

"We were deeply frustrated with the current status of mobile wallet development on Bitcoin. Most of the wallets out there became a shitcoin horror show. Onboarding users to pure speculative useless tokens, where the creators are making money while the normal user is being introduced to scams, frauds on top of being directed to the least interesting aspect of the technology. Wasting time, creating frustration, and thereby resulting to a slow adoption... We want to bring to the community a wallet focused on the users and their usage."

He also explained that the BlueWallet team would be focusing its efforts on two pillars: "Security and User Experience."

BlueWallet's features include:

  • Sentinel Wallets: "Watch-only wallets allow you to keep an eye on your cold storage without touching your private key. Easily import your address or xpub and watch it from your app without ever touching it."
  • SegWit: "SegWit supported in P2SH-compatibility mode."
  • HD Wallets: Support for "Hierarchical Deterministic (HD) key creation and transfer protocol (BIP32)" means that a public key is generated for each transaction.
  • Multiple Wallets: All major wallet standards, i.e. BIP44 (HD), BIP49 (HD SegWit), BIP39 (Breadwallet-compatible), Legacy single-address, and SegWit single-address (P2SH) are supported.
  • Flexible Fees: Starting with 1 Satoshi, you control "the amount you want to add to your transaction," with BlueWallet assisting providing "fee estimation to give you an idea how much to add to your transaction to be included on the next block."
  • Lightning Wallets: Support for the Lightning protocol means you have access to ultra cheap and fast transactions.

Support for the Lightning Network

In a blog post published on Wednesday (December 19), BlueWallet's lead developer Igor Korsakov announced that BlueWallet had just added support for the Lightning Network. 

Korsakov started by saying that although the Lightning Network "promises low-fees and instant payments," it has the drawback of bringing "a lot of complexities and unfamiliarities to unsuspecting users."

He then said that they had decided to take a new approach to Lightning: 

"We decided to hide the complexity of running a node under the hood and take over the work of hub operator. This makes the user experience smooth, bringing Lightning payments to anyone who is at least remotely acquainted with cryptocurrencies and mobile wallets. We called it LndHub, an opensource wrapper around LND. This is '3rd layer solution' (as we jokingly call it; of course this is not real 3rd layer)."

Then, on January 2, Korsakov announced that the BlueWallet team had added a Lightning-powered App (Lapp) Browser to allow users "to interact with Lightning-powered apps with less friction."

Apple Watch Support

A blog post on April 9 brought the news that the BlueWallet team was experimenting with adding support for the Apple Watch:

"We have been playing with one more experiment. This time for Apple Watch users. At the moment, we are in the final phase of testing. But it should come out this month. First iteration will be very rudimentary, with the paring and enclave with your iPhone and the receive feature for onchain wallets. Next iterations will include more features :)"

This news did not come as a complete shock to all BlueWallet users since the team had provided a pretty good clue that they were working on this feature as far back as March 19:

However, it was not until yesterday (May 5) that this watch app got its first general release. Here are its main features:

  • wallets:
    • "individual wallet details and basic functionality"
    • "access all your wallets from your watch"
  • transactions: "see latest transactions from your wallets"
  • Lightning payments: "receive payments directly
 on your watch"

Here is one happy BlueWallet user tweeting about how easy it is to use the app to generate Lightning invoices on the apple Watch:

 

Featured Image Courtesy of BlueWallet Services

CME Looks to Double Bitcoin Futures Limit, but Is This Wise?

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) has a new request for its regulator, as it looks to double open position limits on bitcoin futures contracts in the face of significant interest.

Nasdaq reports that the CME has already petitioned its regulatory body, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CTFC), asking for an increase from 1000 contracts per spot month to 2000 per investor. Each contract represents five BTC, so essentially, at its peak,  a single investor's total position may edge towards a monumental 10,000 BTC.

This is in direct response to the contract's recent growth which is currently depicting record levels of activity, citing $370 million being traded per day. A spokesperson for the CME noted that the idea to increase limits was proposed on the continued maturity of the market:

Based on the significant growth and acceptance of our financially-settled CME Bitcoin futures markets, as well as our analysis of the underlying bitcoin market.

However, as Nasdaq writes the increase in the upper limit of positions is somewhat superfluous. As of July, the number of open interest contracts reached an all-time high of just 6100; given this, it seems the CME may be future-proofing.

Open to Manipulation?

However, concerns remain about the limit increase, as without them, the potential for manipulation rises; often to the detriment to the underlying asset. Although, as per the CTFC website, the threat of manipulation from bitcoin futures contracts is "low":

In general, position limits are not needed for markets where the threat of market manipulation is non-existent or very low.

Instead, Nasdaq posited that this might point to a lessening on the CTFC's strict rule of bitcoin; as well as a maturing of the market in general.

Nevertheless, some believe the CME's bitcoin futures contracts do pose a significant threat to the price of BTC; with some suggesting that blatant manipulation continues unchecked within the market.

As reported, there seems to be a correlation between the expiry dates of CME bitcoin futures contracts and a lull in the price point of BTC. In several instances, a significant drop in bitcoin's price has coincided with a closure from the CME. The most recent example of this occurred on Labor Day, September 2, when bitcoin rose an extraordinary 8% shortly after the CME shut.

Crypto analyst, Alex Kruger, highlighted this, noting the large gaps which formed on the CME chart, from the price discrepancy before and after closing.

This has become a pretty accepted practice within the market. Kruger has even gone to the lengths of compiling statistics each time this phenomenon transpired:

On these occasions, bitcoin cited an average 4.6% price discrepancy following the close of the CME.

Whether this is a coincidence or the market is indeed being actively manipulated is as yet unclear. Either way, with the increase of these limits it might be only a matter of time until we know for sure.

Featured Image Credit: Photo via Pixabay.com