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Bitcoin: What It Did — Scaling with Christian Decker


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    Christian Decker is a researcher and developer at Blockstream. In this interview, we discuss the evolution of the Lightning Network and the challenges of making it more user-friendly. Decker introduces Blockstream’s new service, Greenlight, which simplifies the management and security of running a Lightning node. We also discuss the concept of covenants in Bitcoin and how they can be used to restrict the spending of funds.

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    I first interviewed Christian Decker about the Lightning Network in April 2019. Over the past four and a half years, the Lightning Network has made significant strides in terms of its technical development, to the satisfaction of many of those working on it. However, the challenge of making the Lightning Network more accessible to non-technical users remains as the potential means to accelerate wider adoption.

    The current situation is that users require a deep understanding of Bitcoin and Lightning, which can obviously be off-putting for many. This led to the development by Christian of Blockstream’s new product, Greenlight, which aims to simplify the management and security burdens of running a Lightning node. It aims to provide a non-custodial Lightning-as-a-service, predicated on Blockstream's commitment to transparency and user empowerment.

    Greenlight was born out of the need to bridge the gap between custodial and non-custodial solutions. It provides a user-friendly onboarding experience, allowing users to have their own Lightning node while Blockstream's servers handle the operational processes. The keys remain on the user's device, ensuring security. It has been designed as a tool for all users: from end users who need assistance with managing their funds and channels on the Lightning Network, to app developers who struggle with integrating Lightning into their applications.

    However, whilst Greenlight makes the Lightning Network more accessible, it doesn't necessarily make it more decentralized. There is still a level of centralisation in infrastructure and traffic monitoring. The goal is to educate users and empower them to run their own nodes, thus increasing their self-sovereignty on the Lightning Network.

    Our conversation was a deep dive into the evolution of Bitcoin and the Lightning Network and the exciting future that lies ahead with services like Greenlight. As the community continues to explore and innovate, the goal remains the same: to make these technologies more accessible and empower users to take control of their financial future.

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