Latin America is currently the protagonist worldwide in terms of the adoption of the Bitcoin Lightning Network (LN). Initiatives such as Bitcoin Beach in El Zonte, El Salvador, have made the region a benchmark for the use of LN for BTC micropayments in daily life.
The main goal of the Lightning Network is to streamline bitcoin transactions while reducing expenses related to mining fees. All this in turn allows the use of Bitcoin to be much more efficient in every way, especially in terms of the speed of payments and its energy consumption.
Currently, the Lightning network has a total capacity of 3,736 BTC equivalent to approximately USD 153 million, according to the price of BTC in the market today. This amount is distributed among the 82,500 payment channels that the network has. Although not all channels handle the same amount of BTC, since this will depend on what your administrator has for that purpose.
In accordance with 1MLa lightning network statistics website, LN has 36,343 nodes, of which 20,230 have active payment channels. Apparently only 33 of those nodes are located in Latin America, where Brazil and Argentina are the largest participants with 11 and 7 nodes, respectively. However, the platform both They suggest that there are many more LN nodes in the region, since among its users there are administrators in countries like El Salvador, which do not have nodes according to 1ML.
El Salvador is a key player in the expansion of the Lightning network in Latin America. Events such as the launch of the Bitcoin Beach project in El Zonte and the official establishment of Bitcoin as legal tender in the country have opened doors for the growth of LN in the region.
In addition to other projects related to the use of Bitcoin and the Lightning network that have been announced for El Salvador, such as Bitcoin City, countries such as Honduras and Mexico have also made public certain recent advances in the adoption of Bitcoin as a legal form of payment.
The Bitcoin Lightning Network Community in Latin America
As mentioned above, Latin American Bitcoin Lightning Network users are a rapidly growing community. In view of this, some have taken the opportunity to group together on social networks such as Twitter and Telegram. LatiNodes is one of these conglomerates of bitcoiners that seek to closely follow the development of the Lightning micropayment network.
Among the followers of this group are node administrators who, in turn, are members of the LatiNodos community in both. This platform, in addition to displaying statistics about the Lightning network in general, also provides access to detailed information on the operation of LN and the properties of the nodes that its members operate.
If only the information referring to the members of LatiNodos in Amboss is taken into account, it can be concluded that Latin America has at least 69.2 bitcoins of transfer capacity in LN. This equates to about $2.7 million, based on the market price of bitcoin at the time of writing. However, it is important to emphasize that this is an amount in which only a specific group of nodes is being considered, so the total figures for Latin America could be higher.
In terms of channels and nodes, the LatiNodos community has 1,721 payment channels, which are distributed among 54 Lightning network nodes.
Lightning Network Node Managers in Latin America
Each country or region of the world presents different conditions to the node operators of any network. The people who manage a node may have different motivations, as well as they may face different difficulties when fulfilling this task.
CriptoNoticias managed to establish contact with the administrators of three of the LN nodes in Latin America that are part of LatiNodos, in order to learn about what prompted them to dedicate time and resources to an LN node.
The nodes in question they have capacities ranging from 0.01 BTC to 0.41 BTC and together they add up to 34 active payment channels on the Lightning network.
The administrators who responded to our concerns had no problem being named by the pseudonym of their nodes. However, only one agreed to reveal the location of their node; although his name already gave a clear clue: «EscapeToElSalvador». Privacy is one of the objectives aimed at managing a Bitcoin node, whether in the main network or in LN, so it is perfectly logical that there are details that the interviewees prefer to keep to themselves.
The administrator of this node told CriptoNoticias that he has four years of experience with Lightning network nodes. In the first node he used the c-lightning implementation, which is now known as Core Lightning. From there, EscapeToElSalvador’s operator has managed more than ten different nodes also using other implementations of LN, such as Eclair and LND.
His curiosity about Bitcoin technology and the potential he sees in the Lightning network as a scalability solution were the reasons that prompted him to get into LN node management. Although the operator acknowledges that it was not easy for him to keep the node running at first. In fact, in his reply he referenced the Twitter hashtag #reckless which was one of the trends of the bitcoiner community during the year 2018.
Reckless means “reckless” in Spanish and it became a trend four years ago since, at that time, the Lightning network was in a much earlier stage of development and the risk of losing the BTC that was sent through this route was much elder. You had to be reckless to put this network to the test.
In terms of revenue earned, this LN node manager commented yes managed to recover his initial investment and even add profits, although minimal compared to what you could have earned with other types of investment. However, his greatest reward is to contribute a grain of sand in favor of the financial freedom of every citizen of the world.
“For me, the real gain is seeing the world rid itself of the legacy vampires of traditional finance – Visas and Mastercards, the banks that have long retained full control over money transfers. What is the price of finally being free of them?«
The manager of the Salvadoran LN node anticipates that this network will be present in an unimaginable number of web services in the next five years, where it can be monetized with financial instruments such as shares, mortgages, bonds, among others. The fact of living in El Salvador has allowed him to experience first-hand the legalization of the use of bitcoin as currency and he is optimistic about the issuance of Bitcoin-backed bonds, the “Volcano Bonds”, announced by the Nayib government Bukele.
the node EscapeToElSalvador It has nine active payment channels and a transfer capacity of more than 0.2 bitcoins. Its administrator, in addition to operating said node, also advises people interested in residing in El Salvador.
The node manager RaspiFefo he was much more concise in his answers, but they were no less valuable for that. In fact, he calls attention to the fact that, without agreeing with the EscapeToElSalvador operator, they both share several points of view about LN.
The bitcoiner told CriptoNoticias that this is not the only node he is in charge of and that he has dedicated part of his time and resources to this activity for the last three years.
Unlike Bitcoin nodes, managing a Lightning network node can pay dividends for its operators. However, the person in charge of RaspiFefo affirms that freedom is his main motivation to dedicate himself to this work. Beyond the economic benefits that operating a node of this type can bring, there are also advantages to it. One of them is privacy, since dependency on custodian nodes managed by third parties is cut.
Like the administrator of the EscapeToElSalvador node, the RaspiFefo operator expects to see the Lightning network in the next five years as direct competition from transaction giants such as Visa.
The RaspiFefo node of the Bitcoin Lightning network is the one with the highest capacity among those who communicated with CriptoNoticias, with more than 0.41 BTC. It is also the one with the most active channels, with 22.
The administrator of this node also preferred to reserve the country where it is located, appealing to the right to privacy and anonymity that Bitcoin reinforces. A perfectly valid argument in this context.
Among the LN node operators that communicated with CriptoNoticias, this is the most recent in the niche, since it started in mid-2021. At the moment, the node 2FakTor It has three open payment channels and has a transaction capacity of 0.015 BTC.
The operator of this node commented that he began to know of this world with a node of the main network of Bitcoin, to then try one of LN. In this learning process, one of the topics that has been most challenging for you is the protection of your funds and their recovery in the event that the node presents some type of failure.
The definition of the role that your node will fulfill (route, receive or send payments) and the choice of hardware and software that are most suitable for it are decisions that have also kept the 2FakTor node administrator awake at night.
The main reason why the operator of this node decided to dedicate his time and resources to such activity is the potential he sees in the Lightning network and what it represents for Bitcoin, scalability. With the node of him, this bitcoiner hopes to be able to collaborate both with the technological development of LN and with the decongestion of the main network of Bitcoin.
In line with the other node operators CriptoNoticias managed to establish contact with, the 2FakTor administrator does not have monetary profit as his goal either. In fact, your node is configured to route payments for freealso known as “ZeroFeeRouting”.
According to the operator himself, the profits that his LN node could generate at present are minimal. However, the most pleasant rewards you receive come from the knowledge you have gained as an administrator of this type of nodes, from your contribution to other users of the Bitcoin Lightning network through the free use of your channel and from your personal use, since It has been useful for shopping.
To future, 2FakTor Node Admin Sees Lightning Network Seeing Mass Adoption in the next five years that will also allow Bitcoin to work in a much more efficient way.
Although the Bitcoin Lightning Network has been experiencing exponential growth led by Latin America, it is still considered to be in an early stage of development. Its potential to solve problems that the Bitcoin mainnet can present is what presents it as an effective, and even urgent, solution for the scalability of the mother of all cryptocurrencies.