Ever heard of lightning addresses and bitcoin addresses? Well if you have, it’s important to know that they are incompatible as they are very different. A lightning network, which deploys lightning addresses does not utilize addresses for payments within the network. Lightning addresses provide the information needed for an individual to route a payment to an individual in the form of bitcoin. They so-called addresses are long sequences which are not able used multiple times because the same hash cannot be used for multiple transactions on the lightning network.
In essence, what it means is that users can’t send money from their lightning address directly to a bitcoin address, without first taking transfer their funds into their own bitcoin account. Luckily for the sophisticated bitcoin investors and lighting fund owners of the world, Lighting Labs developed Alex Bosworth is looking into ways to reduce the additional step. Bosworth is studying atomic swaps, which is a technology that allows two different cryptocurrencies to be exchanged on different exchanges without the use of a middleman. This method is now as “submarine swaps” and with the help of Bosworth, is being tested on the lightning network.
Bosworth admits that testing out the swaps is a bit dangerous, but also had the following to say, “There’s still lots to build, but it’s more fun to try on mainnet.” However, the risk, he believes is worth it, as the steps made could help possibly prepare the lightning network for the future. A future in which Bosworth sees swapping lightning network payments for on-chain coins and far beyond that, a future where every bitcoin or cryptocurrency wallet supports the technology and all cryptocurrencies can easily be sent/exchanged with a lightning address.
Luckily for Bosworth, others are putting in the work to push the future what he envisions for the future. Jason Wong, an aviation software developed, is also experimenting with submarine swaps. In his experimentation, he was able to successfully show that something priced on the lightning network can be purchased using Litecoin. Like Bosworth, he also sees the immense value is what is referred to as a cross-chain swap, versus just same chain swap. He further believes that if a submarine swap can support a cryptocurrency like Ethereum, that more users will actively exchange and use cryptocurrencies. In addition to his beliefs and experimentation with submarine swaps, Wong was also able to implement a new version of technology which allows items priced on lightning to be purchased with ether.
At this point, it is clear the ambitions for the use of the lightning network and the exchange of different cryptocurrencies using cross-chains swaps is high, there is much work left to be done to achieve the future which Bosworth envisions and continue to push users towards the lightning network.