Lightning Speed: Podcasting 2.0 And Its Relationship With The Lightning Network

Will podcasting 2.0 be the next use case for the Lightning Network? The statement might induce skepticism, but Kevin Rooke presents a surprisingly good case. Prepare to receive the gas you needed to start your own podcast. The technology is just getting started, and the people are just getting comfortable with it. However, the logic behind Rooke’s argument stands. 

Related Reading | Spiral BTC Releases Lightning Development Kit. Jack Dorsey’s Puppet Promotes It

He starts with a statement that will surprise no one. “The Lightning Network’s architecture allows creators to earn directly from their biggest fans, in new ways that aren’t even possible on a fiat payment system.” That much we can admit. Also, closed platforms provide convenience and a sizable audience. However, “Apple takes a 30% fee on in-app payments, YouTube takes a 45% fee on ad revenues, and Facebook keeps all their ad revenue without paying their creators a penny.”

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On the other hand, “Email, websites, podcasts, and Bitcoin are all examples of open platforms.” They don’t offer an already captive audience, but, “anyone to plug into fully-formed networks of content and users with full interoperability between competing products.” This helps a lot. However, creators using these open platforms, “still rely on closed monetization platforms like PayPal, Amazon Affiliates, Patreon, or Google Adsense to earn income.”

The Lightning Network Comes To Save The Day

You already know this, the Lightning Network allows for micropayments that are almost free. Anyone can use it, and it’s approaching mass adoption by the minute. “Not only can creators now plug into an open monetization platform with hundreds of millions of users, they can even access a new type of monetization that was never before possible.” Those new types are, “real-time payment streaming, micro-tipping, and other monetization strategies that simply aren’t possible on fiat payment rails.”

So far, so good. “Real-time payment streaming” via the Lightning Network is what Podcasting 2.0 is all about. However, it’s easy to miss why that is important. Crucial, even. 

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“Advertising is directly at odds with other monetization strategies like paid subscriptions. If only a small fraction of your listeners are willing to pay subscriptions for your content, any gains made from subscription revenues will cannibalize your ad revenue, as your total listeners fall by 95% or more.”

That’s the problem with Patreon or similar services. You can monetize your biggest fans’ support, sure, but advertisers won’t pay for that small audience. Podcasting 2.0 provides the best of both worlds.

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We’re Still Early. The Dawn Of Podcasting 2.0

Let’s check the stats out. That’s always fun.

“There are 4,434,920 RSS podcast feeds on the internet today, but only 2,947 of them are on Lightning today. Put another way, only 0.07% of all podcasts on the internet can earn Lightning tips right now.”

And, of course, only early adopters and people in El Salvador are using The Lightning Network. And from that group, only a few people will tip or pay in real-time for the content. However, “there is zero downside to enabling Lightning tips, and the upside can be a meaningful contribution to total revenue. It’s only a matter of time before the other 99.93% of podcasters figure this out.”

And that’s not all, the Lightning Network enables a type of interaction that was not possible for the podcasting medium. Creators can know the exact moment that their listeners decided to tip them.  

“Podcasting 2.0 apps also let listeners send messages and tips to creators while listening to a show, providing direct feedback with timestamps attached to every comment. This innovation represents a shift to a more social podcasting experience.”

And ok, that feedback was already possible in YouTube livestreams. However, YouTube is a closed platform. The feedback stayed with them and wasn’t available for people consuming the podcast through other apps. That’s not the case with Podcasting 2.0.

“Since RSS and the Lightning Network are both open platforms, comments are also interoperable across Podcasting 2.0 apps, so any creator can receive feedback from any listener using any app.”

Conclusions About Podcasting 2.0

Another advantage that this new standard provides podcasters is that they can truly be platform agnostic. 

“Since RSS and Bitcoin are complementary open standards, podcasters don’t have to risk alienating their existing listeners or worry about migrating their content to a new platform.

All podcasters need to do is flip the switch and their Lightning tips and messages will seamlessly integrate with their existing RSS feed.”

Kevin Rooke closes his masterclass with this:

“As Podcasting 2.0 apps continue to build easy interfaces for listeners to tip their favorite podcasters, Lightning tips could even become a primary revenue source, without cannibalizing or interfering with a creator’s existing ad revenue.”

Related Reading | Lightning Speed: Eight Mind-blowing Facts About The Lightning Network

Do you see it now? Or is he exaggerating? In any case, the Lightning Network doesn’t have to provide a “primary revenue source.” If Podcasting 2.0 provides a secondary one that wasn’t possible before, plus audience interaction, that’s more than enough.

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El Salvador’s Chivo And Bitcoin Adoption In Mindblowing Facts And Stats

Why didn’t we thought of measuring Chivo and Bitcoin adoption this way? Cero anecdotal evidence. Only facts, numbers, and reports from wherever we can get them. What do we know about the Chivo Wallet’s Lightning node? What apps besides the government wallet are the Salvadorans using? Are they happy with them? Investor and blogger Kevin Rooke has a fresh take on El Salvador’s Bitcoin adoption and we’re here to summarize it. 

“I wanted a deeper understanding of how real people in El Salvador are interacting with Bitcoin, so I went off in search of other success metrics.”

Related Reading | New To Bitcoin? Learn To Trade Crypto With The NewsBTC Trading Course

However, since “the Lightning Network is private by design,” it’s hard to accurately measure “payment volumes and the flow of funds between various wallets and exchanges.” So, what did Kevin Rooke do? He looked everywhere else for hard data about Chivo and Bitcoin adoption. Let’s explore what he found.

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BTCUSD price chart for 09/24/2021 - TradingView

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The Chivo Ecosystem Is Growing Fast

To measure the Chivo wallet’s adoption, Rooke used the official information provided by President Bukele. Not ideal, but not uncommon either. It’s easier to get info about the Chivo Lightning node because you can check all the public info here. But wait, why is the Salvadorean government running a Lightning node?

“Just like every other participant on Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, Chivo runs a Lightning node. Since Chivo is a custodial wallet, all Lightning payments that Chivo users send to and from other Lightning wallets will transfer liquidity to and from Chivo’s node.”

Through those sources, what did the author find out about the Chivo ecosystem?

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  • At the moment, “Chivo’s node has 12.7 BTC of public capacity.” Which is 1,269,941,898 sats.
  • The Chivo node “ranks 83rd among public Lightning nodes.” 
  • At the time of writing, it’s connected to 58 other channels, but this number changes daily.
  • Back to the iOS App Store and Google Play Store, the Chivo wallet remains at the top of the popularity list, “beating all the most popular social media apps like WhatsApp, TikTok, and Instagram.
  • O bet you haven’t thought about this one, “By onboarding over 1.6 million users in just two weeks, Chivo is likely the most popular Lightning Network app in the world today.

What About The Other Bitcoin Apps? Are They Popular In El Salvador?

Ok, granted. El Salvador’s government incentivizes the downloading of the Chivo wallet app with $30. That has to move the needle. However, when it comes to all the other Bitcoin apps, such an incentive doesn’t exist. How are they measuring up to other financial apps? 

El Salvador's most popular apps, September 2021

El Salvador's most popular apps, September 2021

El Salvador's most popular apps for September 2021 | Source: Kevin Rooke

This infographic says it all:

  • Salvadorans are already showing strong preference for Bitcoin apps over banking and remittance apps on a national scale,” as the graphic shows.
  • To put it in numbers, “9 and 13 of the top 20 apps on the respective app stores” are Bitcoin apps. And Chivo is at number one.
  • Most of El Salvador’s banks and payment processors have user ratings of 2-4 stars,” that’s the traditional banking system for you.
  •  On the other hand, “Bitcoin related apps have user ratings of 3-5 stars.” Even though it’s still early, the facts are the facts. It should be noted that the Chivo app is at the lower end of that spectrum.

Related Reading | How Big Is Bitcoin’s Lightning Network? The Answer Will Surprise You

Besides that, Kevin Rooke identified a truth that might be obvious to some, but has to be said:

“The millions of Salvadorans that have already been onboarded to the Lightning Network aren’t Silicon Valley nerds or early tech enthusiasts. They’re regular people that are making a conscious choice to use the Lightning Network because it saves them time and money.”

And they don’t have to use the Chivo ecosystem if they don’t want to. That’s a fact.

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How Big Is Bitcoin’s Lightning Network? The Answer Will Surprise You

The Lightning Network is one of the most bullish developments that the Bitcoin ecosystem has seen so far. And all the available metrics point up, a healthy and vibrant network is brewing. However, investor Kevin Rooke took a deeper look and found out that the Lightning Network is probably even bigger than previously thought. “Inaccurate comparisons and privacy preserving features make it hard to truly understand how big the Lightning Network is.

Related Reading | Bitcoin Lightning Network Reaches Record Capacity

What does Rooke mean by that? Let’s find out.

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The Lightning Network By The Numbers

A casual look at popular analytics platform 1ml tells us that, at the time of writing, The Lightning Network is composed of 24,688 nodes, 64,577 channels, and the network capacity is 2,272.89 BTC. All of those numbers are up. However, “The Lightning Network is not a borrowing protocol, an AMM, or a store of value. Furthermore, the idea that Bitcoin is “locked” on the Lightning Network is misleading at best.

There are a number of DeFi protocols that have a much higher number of BTC “locked,” and people mistakenly compare that number to the Lightning Network ‘s capacity. In DeFi, usually, the funds are in fact locked and can’t be touched until the contract in question runs its course. In Lightning, things are quite different: 

As explained in the book Mastering the Lightning Network, funds that are added to the Lightning Network are not locked, they are unleashed. As soon as a new Lightning channel is opened, those funds can be sent anywhere on the Lightning Network in an instant, and for almost no cost.

And speaking about channels, Kevin Rooke talked about them in an “investor letter” dated June 28th:

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There are currently over 51,800 channels routing payments between 22,000 nodes, and 21% of those Lightning Network channels were created in the last 30 days.

On the surface, 21% monthly channel growth seems impressive, but new channel creation is a slightly misleading metric as nodes frequently open and close new channels.

A more accurate measure of growth is that the total number of channels on the Lightning Network is up by 10.8%, or over 5,000 channels in the last month.

Compare that to the more recent figure that we gave you at the beginning of the section and note how the number of channels grew in just a month and a half. That’s not all, take into account that:

Some nodes don’t want their channels to be included in the public Lightning Network graph, and instead choose to open ‘unadvertised’ or ‘private’ channels.

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BTCUSD price chart for 08/13/2021 - TradingView

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Privacy Doesn’t Let Us See How Much Money Goes Through Lightning

Most of the transactions that take place inside the Lightning Network are private. Only at the time of settlement between two parties are the final numbers forever registered into the Bitcoin blockchain. That means it’s impossible to know exactly how much money is going through Lightning on any given day. Or in total. 

Related Reading | Bitcoin Community Celebrates as Crucial Lightning Network Project Launches

However, Rooke estimates that “annual on-chain volume is almost 6x higher than the value locked into the Bitcoin network, despite the relatively high transaction fees and slow block times that make payments cumbersome.” That’s on the main Bitcoin blockchain.  On the other hand:

The Lightning Network is designed for making fast and inexpensive payments, so if $85 million of Bitcoin is already on the Lightning Network, it would make sense for annual payment volume to be at least 6x higher, or at least $510M.

That’s a bare minimum. And things are just getting started. In September, El Salvador’s Bitcoin Law goes into effect and the whole country will start using the Lightning Network. And take into account that roughly a quarter of El Salvador’s GDP comes from remittances, so it’s not a stretch to think that Salvadoreans all over the world will start using it as well. Add to that Jack Dorsey’s projects, both Square and Twitter are looking into Lightning integration.

In fact, Dorsey published this tweet yesterday:

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. For more impressive numbers and deductions, be sure to read “The Lightning Network Is Bigger Than You Think.

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