Twitter Rolls Out Tipping Feature Via BTC's Layer 2 Lightning Network

September 24, 2021 03:40 PM
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Twitter has launched a tipping feature via BTC’s layer 2 Lightning Network (LN). The network has more than doubled the amount of BTC deployed on it since the start of the year.

Yesterday, Twitter enabled tipping via BTC for global iOS users, with the feature coming to Android “soon.” The feature, rumored since late August, also gives users the option of tipping content creators in fiat currencies through third-party services such as Cash App, Venmo, and Wealthsimple Cash. 

LN tipping is being made available via Strike, the BTC payments application involved in El Salvador’s embrace of the asset. Users tipping in BTC will be able to use other LN wallets other than Strike, which is only available in the U.S. and El Salvador, to send tips to Strike accounts. 

Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey has been a significant proponent of BTC. Square holds BTC as a treasury asset and allows users to purchase the coin. Dorsey’s plans for leveraging BTC in regards to Twitter haven’t been as clear. For example, during an earnings call in July, Dorsey explained that he wants Twitter to be able to “ensure people and companies can freely trade goods and services anywhere on the planet.”

Dorsey added that, in his view, BTC is the native currency of the internet and the coin allows Twitter to “move so much faster” and “reach every single person on the planet… instead of going down a market-by-market approach” in regards to features the firm plans to deploy. Dorsey, who publicly spoke about Twitter’s ambitions for BTC for the first time during the call, didn’t offer further details. 

In July, Dorsey revealed the company’s plans to launch an “open developer platform” with the goal of “making it easy to create non-custodial, permissionless, and decentralized financial services” for BTC. The effort was given a working name of “TBD” and will be a new business along existing units such as Cash App or Tidal. That month, Square also announced plans to “build a hardware wallet and service to make bitcoin custody more mainstream.” The latter 2 efforts haven’t described ambitions regarding the LN. 

Beyond Twitter and Square, the LN has seen implementation via El Salvador’s adoption of BTC as legal tender. The country’s state-backed Chivo wallet utilizes the LN to facilitate purchases and remittance transfers. 

The Lighting Network, introduced in a 2015 whitepaper, is primarily developed by San Francisco-based Lightning Labs, a startup backed by Dorsey, among other investors. The network, which was released in beta in 2018, has seen accelerated adoption in 2021. For example, the network which now holds 2,800 BTC (roughly USD 119 million), began the year with 1,057 BTC.  

In June, Dorsey said he believes there “is nothing more important in my lifetime to work on” than BTC. We’ve previously described this conviction as less evident in Twitter compared to Square. However, Twitter’s rollout of BTC tipping suggests that Dorsey’s commitment to the asset has begun to take concrete form on the social media platform. At the moment, the popularity and success of BTC tipping along with possible further integrations with the asset and network remain to be seen.

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