Bitcoin’s Lightning Torch Relay Is Running on Weibo, Will It Catch on in China?

The bitcoin community has been immersed in an experiment dubbed “Lightning Torch” since mid-January. The initiative has since turned into a viral crypto game on social media, particularly in North America and Western Europe, while it is somewhat cold with few participants in China, a country with a large concentration of bitcoin activities.

Since its debut January 19 on Twitter from a user of the bitcoin lightning network who goes by the name “Hodlonaut”, the torch has attracted the participation of 194 people across at least 37 countries, gathering a total of 3.3 million satoshis ($117.68) with each passing adding 10,000 satoshis ($0.35), and it is still going.

Some LN fun..

– I send 100k sats with https://t.co/va7XSnFii0 to the first person I choose to trust that replies to this.
– That person adds 10k sats and sends 110k to someone (Either from reply to a new tweet, or this thread)

.. and so on

How many sats before it breaks?

— hodlonaut?? (@hodlonaut) January 19, 2019

The list of participants includes some notable names in the bitcoin community, such as advocate and Mastering Bitcoin author Andreas Antonopoulos; it wins more popularity when Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey took over the flame.

Though cryptocurrency features an exploration of new tech and business mode sweeping the globe, the tracking map of the torch relay suggests that the majority of its players behind the effort are mainly in the U.S. and Europe. A few participants are scattered in South America, Africa and Southeast Asia. As a big player in the crypto realm, China contributes only two hops – the latest one is Tron founder Justin Sun, the other may be Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao or Samson Mow of Blockstream.

“Lightning Torch” on Weibo

“The information is asymmetric, we’re not on the same channel.” Says FloodedStrand, a Chinese bitcoiner who was also one of the earliest followers of this crypto relay, but he did not expect it could be such a buzz.

“The atmosphere of the bitcoin community abroad should be credited for building this trust between the unfamiliar on the virtual Internet. To get back the financial sovereignty and seek a better monetary policy is the main reason why most people in the bitcoin community on Twitter remain enthusiastic about bitcoin despite the bear market. By contrast, the majority of people in China who know about bitcoin are speculators, who pay far more attention to crypto prices than its technological development and the meaning behind it.” He told 8btc.

Inspired by the torch ignitor Hodlonaut, he started the Chinese version of Lightning Torch on Weibo (Twitter-like social media in China) on February 6. It has attracted 19 participants with 1.88 million satoshis (with an initial base of 1,688,888 sats) as of press time. “Let’s see how far the torch can go and whether it could outdo the Twitter one,” reads on the event page.

“I just want to see how many people (in China) are really concerned about technology in a bear market, and would like to make a contribution to the development and spread of bitcoin lightning network. This torch relay can also indirectly help some people learn something.”

Will it be a buzz in China?

The Lightning Network is a “Layer 2” payment protocol that operates on top of a blockchain-based cryptocurrency. It enables fast transactions between participating nodes, touted to be able to take the TPS (transactions per second) of bitcoin to unprecedented heights of at least 1 million TPS, while the limit for bitcoin is 7.

According to data from 1ml.com, there are currently 6,242 nodes and 25,843 channels (at the time of this writing) on the bitcoin lightning network around the world, while nodes in China only contribute 11, 0.34% of the total.

(Source: https://explorer.acinq.co/)

FloodedStrand told us that lightning network still needs to overcome many problems to see large-scale implementation, such as security, ease of use and asset deposit.

Xiong Yue, CEO of crypto mining pool Bixin, who runs a lightning node in China, said the lightning network at present is still a thing among the cypher geek, but he believes this technology is powerful and will have profound impacts once it is widely applied.

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