How Bitcoin's Lightning Can Be Used for Private Messaging

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Bitcoin's lightning network might have a use case beyond faster and more scalable payments.

Last week Lightning Labs developer Joost Jager revealed an experimental, new proof of concept: Whatsat, a version of lightning that can be used to send private messages.

Private messaging is a hot topic in the digital age, as it's easy for bad actors to intercept messages that aren't encrypted.

Apps such as Signal and Wire give users more privacy, but private messaging is still far from everywhere.

Jager said it's always been possible to add extra data to lightning payments.

A recent change to lightning's specifications has standardized how this built-in messaging system works, so lightning network software remains compatible.

There are other technologies that can be used to decentralize messaging, Jager said, but he argues there are some advantages built into lightning that other apps don't have.

Twinning payments and messaging might help lightning.

Lightning payments currently cost a median of.0001 satoshis, a single satoshi currently being worth a fraction of a penny.

"If the lightning network matures to a system that can sustainably handle 1 [satoshi] payments, I think a future of permissionless private messaging is unlocked," Jager said.

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