Lightning is the most exciting technology on the planet today in my view. Nothing I say here is an attack. I am just a person that actually sells product and service. I also accept bitcoin and wants more payments on lightning. My view is different than that of the technical person this article is aimed at.
Tech people have one huge problem, in short they know too much. That alone is not the real problem. The bigger issue is, they do not understand that most people have no idea, what the F they are talking about 90% of the time.
They literally need translators, say a redneck duck farmer in the middle to say, “hey no one understands you, this is what the people you are building the tech for actually want. They don’t and won’t ever understand you when you go on about “lnurl” and “keysend” and “opening channels”. Further your job is to make it so they don’t need to”.
99% of those reading this right now, have no idea what TCP/IP is, most don’t even know what it means least how it works. Yet they are using it right now. They don’t know what java script is but interact with it daily, etc. Again I am a seller and speak from the user side, the user side that can’t lay down a single line of code and never wants to do so. It is from this angle I tell you what most concerns me.
Let’s start with what I am not worried about. I don’t care about the number of nodes, that number grows daily and will solve itself in time. I am not worried about how much liquidity is on the network, it will also solve itself. There is massive incentive to earn interest/fees on BTC without some shill based yield farming scam on it. No I look at this only for now as a seller comparing BTC/Lightning to say Visa or Mastercard or Paypal, etc.
The problems I see break down to…
- Trust from the buyer, not in the network but in the seller
- The ability to create recurring charges based on a monthly or annual cost of a thing along with other point of sale featues
Let’s start with item one. Trust in the seller. One big reason people so willingly buy a widget, a membership or anything online from a seller is that they know if they get screwed, Visa/MC etc. will charge back the seller. In fact they will always get the benefit of the doubt. As a seller I take more risk with chargebacks (and high fees from them) then the buyer. Buyers and sellers both lie, when a buyer lies I almost always lose because I sell a non material product, a membership.
Now I have a 60 day no questions asked refund policy. No one has ever asked for a refund and not received it, ever, within 60 days of purchase. So a lightning payment is way better for me. It would force the buyer to ask for a refund vs. just “running to the man”, which many do. As simple as my business is, lies from buyers cost me on average about 1,000 USD a year. That is fees not just the refund itself.
Yet the buyer sees this way differently. When they send me BTC, they can’t force it to be given back. How do we solve this? In all honesty, I don’t know. Now seller reputations (think Amazon/eBay reviews) for a general over all market, may help, but we know that can be gamed. Further it can be gamed by both sellers and buyers. Some people hate me they file fake shit on say BBB, which honestly no one reads. Yet it happens.
Adding to this I have huge trust with my audience, honestly no one that ever paid in any form of crypto has even asked for one refund. If they had I would have simply given it.
Yet, if you want to take over just say a measly 2% of the global payments market, a tiny first step, you are going to need to bring in millions of new people. People who don’t think like I do or my customer base does. Refunds are a way of life in service and retail. This needs addressing in some way. And that way needs to be a GUI for vendors, not a list of technical shit they will never understand and have no desire to understand.
Item two, recurrent revenue and enhanced POS features. Recurring charges are a massive portion of total global payments. It ranges from variable expenses like your electric bill to static charges like say a 7.95 a month streaming service or 50 bucks a year in my member’s program. As far as I know Lighting can’t do this, at least not yet.
I also expect some God level coder is going to say “well, actually you can do it, just (insert large amount of technical bullshit no one will understand here), that is all you have to do”.
This doesn’t work, again we need a GUI based POS system, look at me using words many readers won’t understand, see we all do this, we are all guilty.
Let’s fix that…
- GUI – Graphic User Interface (what you see when you say manage your profile in a social media account)
- POS – Point of Sale (when you buy shit the system that manages costs, refunds, inventory, bookkeeping, etc.)
Some say Lightning can’t scale, they are wrong. They say it can’t really be cheaper than MC/Visa with fees, since it already is, they are also wrong. Some say we don’t have enough liquidity. We have all we need for the activity we have right now. As we have more activity, the activity itself along with market incentive will fix that too. It is all coming and I expect that even my two issues in this article are coming too. Yet I am not sure most devs really understand the problem as two fold.
Yes a means by which to do a thing needs developing, but that is half a solution. The other side is making it so the person using it is comfortable and has confidence in it. Let me put it this way, have you gotten a new “smart phone” in the last few years? Great. Did it come with a manual for how to use it? If so did you read it? Or did you just charge it up, sync it and start using it?
Why? Why did you just pick up a tool that is more powerful than any computer that even existed say in 1995 and just start using it? Because it was designed to be used by people with absolutely no clue how it works. Lightning is in it’s infancy, it is okay that people are just learning how to use the tools for mortals that exist, like those I describe at TipLightning.com, it is totally fine. But I feel the time has come for many of the amazing things that have been developed to be implemented.
This is not a bitcoin problem or a lightening problem. Almost every technical concern has this problem. I see it all the time. So my bigger advice here for lightning devs is talk to people that do not understand you and what you do. Don’t try to teach them what you know. Most won’t ever understand it and those that do are unicorns, they won’t be useful to the real issue. Learn what they want and build things for them. Make it so easy that it is intuitive. Then put it in the hands of people you expect to use it. Don’t help them, watch them have no clue and then fix it so it is something they can use.
Again I am not picking on Lightning Devs, I am picking on all developers, coders, etc. You all do this and those of you who win get your stuff to the point where normal people can use it the fastest.
I’ll finish with this. Likely the most successful company you can buy Bitcoin with is CoinBase and I refer people there to get started all the time. (Relax I also teach get your bitcoin off the exchange too!). Is CoinBase “the best” from a cost or technical stand point? No! It isn’t! So why do they have the biggest user base? (yes I am going to yell in text)
BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE PAYPAL.
In short don’t use words your target customers do not understand and talk to them, more accurately listen to them. Then build them what they want.
The two things I just gave you are not just what merchants want. No, they actually need them, as in can’t do business without them. They need integration with POS systems that handle inventory, refunds, exchanges, recurring charges etc. Finally any solution you come to, must work with the other systems they already use.
To be blunt make it work for people that still say w, w, w when telling you about a domain name!