The lightning network is a layer 2 technology for bitcoin that makes inexpensive, instantly settled bitcoin transactions possible. It has experienced striking growth and according to Amboss Technologies, nearly 4,000 bitcoin are committed to its payment channels. This commitment grew by 5% in the past week alone.
Numerous apps for managing lightning wallets are now available to users. Self-sovereign types that run their own nodes may prefer Zap or Zeus. Technical users that don’t need to control a node of their own may use BLW or Blixt. El Salvadorans, for whom bitcoin is legal tender, may use Chivo or Strike. For a polished, convenient user experience, popular options are Wallet of Satoshi, Muun, Phoenix and BlueWallet…
A merchant could use any of the wallets listed above for accepting payments. This is exactly what my barber does. And my honey supplier. And the barista at the most-recent Bitcoin Bush Bash. These work but could a tailored solution be even better? Michael Little, an Australian software developer, believes so and he did something about it.
In a recent interview with Jake Woodhouse, Michael Little described how interference in commerce under the guise of pandemic control motivated him to design something that would make accepting bitcoin easier for merchants. He held a strong desire to make something that bitcoiners could use and he is targeting that niche with his new app, Voltpay.
Until now, merchants that want to accept bitcoin and have outgrown the popular apps have tended to either partner with a corporate payment processor or build their own. BTCPayserver is excellent, open-source solution for doing this but the technical challenges can seem daunting, especially to a small vendor that isn’t willing to devote resources to trying out this bitcoin payments thing yet.
Voltpay is a mobile app that works a lot like an online shopping cart. After you hit “pay” a lightning invoice is generated for accepting payment. I tried it out and the transaction confirmed immediately. The merchant can withdraw takings any time to another wallet, including over lightning. This worked seamlessly too. The app can even process refunds. The roadmap for the app includes NFC integration, full transaction reporting for easier accounting and scheduled withdrawals to a cold storage wallet.
Michael stressed that, although he intends to add a subscription tier to the app in the future, it’s free right now and there will always be a free option for using it. Voltpay looks like a really useful app and one that I’m looking forward to paying a few sats into for my next haircut or groceries from the farmer’s market, especially if it integrates NFC (“tap and go”) payments.