Dec 8, 2023

CoinDesk's Most Influential 2023 recognizes 50 people who defined the year in the digital assets space, which includes Lisa Neigut, Blockstream Lightning Protocol Engineer and founder of Base58 School of Engineering.

Video transcript

Our next guest is a block stream developer who has been working on what she calls Lightning version two since 2019. With the aim to make it easier to move money around on the payments focused protocol. Joining us now to discuss is blocks stream lightning protocol engineer and base 58 school of Engineering founder Lisa Nth. Welcome to the show, Lisa. Hey, good morning. How's it going now? Good morning. Uh We just, we've been congratulating everyone we've been talking to who's made coin desks most influential list. So congratulations to you to being part of the group that was selected this year. Yeah, I think it's such a huge honor. I'm really, really um excited to be included. All right, let's talk about some of the achievements you had this year. You helped build and use uh the lightning network first. Explain the challenges that you set out to solve uh and how lightning version two came to be. Yeah. So one of the things that we're really looking to make easier for the lightning network is how you get money from like the Bitcoin main chain into a lightning channel. How do we make it cheaper. How do we make it easier to move money around once it's inside of the lightning network? Um How can we really keep costs low for people that are running lightning nodes? Um So this is kind of a, a difficult problem. Um It's challenging. Uh It takes a lot of engineering to update these protocols. So the way lightning has been working um and the way that most channels open, um it takes a couple, it takes multiple transactions sometimes when you wanna get money in or if you wanna move money that's already in a channel into a different channel. Um And that can add up, especially as we've seen lately, you know, fees on the have really been going up. It's getting more expensive to move money around on the Bitcoin main chain, some of that's due to the ordinals work, et cetera. So, um I started working on this project. Yeah, back in 2019, we're getting really close. I was really hoping that we would be able to say that it was fully merged um in at least two of the lightning implementations or lighting the I've been working on and um a player over at the Async team, which is a French Lightning team. But um we haven't quite gotten the spec over the, over the, over the line yet, but we'll hope we'll get it before the end of the year. So that would be probably one of the most exciting things for me. Um, this year is to get that finished. So, looking at, uh, value that has moved so far on the lightning network, uh, back in August it, I think that was the last number that came out. Uh, although as far as I could tell, although I don't know if there are any newer numbers that was about $78 million in, in August alone. Correct. Uh, ho how have we seen growth? It, it was, it was significant growth over the past couple of years, but over the past few months, how have things grown and, and how do we, how does it relate towards total value uh transacted on, on in Bitcoin in general? Yeah, that's a really great question. So I think you're referring to the report that river came out with in August or maybe it was October of this year, but they did a lot of work figuring out how much money had been moving. Um I don't have any updated numbers for you. I work more on the protocol side so we don't really keep as much track on volume, unfortunately, of money that's moving through. But I think we've definitely seen an enormous um uptick in people that are using it. Um, the amount of money that is being transacted on a day to day basis, um both through custodial as well as more um uh non CSD options, which is great. I think a a and how as you said, you, you're not paying attention really to the dollar value or, or to the, that particular, uh, bit of it but, uh any, any, any problems that you see coming up in terms of volume, uh, and, and how things can transact here. Yeah. So I think like, you know, lightning is really all the amount of lightning payments that are able to, may be made is a function of the amount of Bitcoin. Well, two things, right, the number of people that want to transact through it and then also the amount of Bitcoin that's been locked into the network. So it's kind of like the protocols for the A V two that we're working on is really about, you know, the liquidity, the lightning, the availability of Bitcoin on lightning um where it is if it's available and able to make a payment. Um So I think that lightning liquidity and having enough Bitcoin locked into the network in the right places so that when people want to make transactions on light, they can do it really quickly and easily. Um It's really one of the focuses of the of the protocols I've been working on kind of on the back end. Um So I would, I think one of the big things we've seen is that, you know, people already have lightning channels open um making sure that they stay open has kind of been as the pull and all of this new transaction volume on the Bitcoin Network goes through making sure that they're able to um keep those channels open has been kind of one of the big themes of this year. And then, um you know, if you haven't opened your channels yet, how much is it gonna cost you to get New Bitcoin? I got to ask you, I was reading that you bought your first sat in 2018 and now you're on coin desk's most influential list. You're making major developments to the Bitcoin network. I think there are a lot of people, especially a lot of uh women who sit on the sidelines and think maybe it's too late to learn something new or get involved in crypto. What would you say to those people? You know, it always feels like you're too late when you get into something when I got into it in 2018. I thought I was a decade, too late at that point, you know. Um And I think for me, like, the biggest thing is, you know, one thing I find about women in particular and getting into things I'd known about Bitcoin for a long time, but it wasn't until someone invited me to participate that I really took the initiative to like start learning about it. Um So if you're thinking about it, you know, one don't wait for an invitation and two, maybe if you have an invitation, if you're already in the system or already working on it don't hesitate to offer um invitations to people that you think would find it interesting. All right. And Lisa, what are you looking forward to in 2024? Oh, I am so excited about getting more developers into Bitcoin next year. I think we're gonna see a huge influx, especially now that the price is bumped up a little bit. People tend to get really excited about getting into Bitcoin, so I'm just absolutely excited to have them um new people joining, hopefully they'll wanna work on lightning or learn more about Bitcoin through the base 58 with engineering. Just, just out of curiosity, how many people worked on lightning? Great question. I think there's probably about 20 to 30 sort of people across four or five different implementations that work on it, sort of on a regular basis, the protocol level and then on top of that, you have, oh, I have no idea how many application engineers that are building checkouts, applications, you know, exchanges, wallets, that sort of thing. So it's, it's a small but I think really growing co work and we really could use more people that understand the protocol and are able to build interesting things with it. Lisa, thanks so much for joining the show. If we don't see you before the end of the year, happy holidays and congratulations once again for making the most influential list. Thank you. Y'all take care that was block stream lighting protocol engineer. And base 58 School of Engineering founder Lisa Nigh.

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