By Simon Golstein

from Finance Magnates

03 January 2018


From the humble beginnings of a cup of Starbucks coffee, now a phone bill has been paid with the Lightning Network.

Programmer Alex Bosworth paid his phone bill with Bitcoin through a service called Bitrefill, according to

Bitrefill supports SIM card topups to 400+ mobile operators in 100 countries (or 600+ operators in 150 countries, depending on which page of its website you are reading). Payment can be made in Bitcoin or Litecoin.

As Bitrefill says on its website: “Sometimes during high load on the Bitcoin network, and especially with older wallets that don’t use proper fee estimations, it can happen that transactions don’t confirm for long time. This is an unfortunate consequence of how Bitcoin works.”

This is exactly the issue that the Lightning Network was designed to solve. Its website explains that by circumventing the blockchain, users can avoid the lengthy verification process and high transaction fees which are making Bitcoin transactions unworkable.

Making transactions off-blockchain is made possible by using the blockchain programme to create separate ledger entries, which are added to the main chain at a later point, when they are closed. As the website describes: “This is similar to how one makes many legal contracts with others, but one does not go to court every time a contract is made.”

There are many altcoins which claim to solve the technical issues of Bitcoin. However, Bitcoin has continued to succeed because of perceived value – people generally prefer to pay with Bitcoin than an altcoin, because it is something that they recognise.

More importantly, the problems faced by Bitcoin are a result of its popularity, and it follows that a given altcoin will face similar issues if it becomes popular too. For example, Ethereum, heavily used for ICO generation and a certain cat game, saw its transaction fees rise from virtually nothing to a peak of $0.71 on December 14th, according to a report in Forbes.

Thus, a system like Lightning, which could improve the utility of Bitcoin itself, is very much in demand – Bitrefill actually began testing the network back in August. Now, following the successful transaction, CEO Sergej Kotliar said: “Everything is ready to go on our end, but we’re not launching it yet until a Lightning wallet is released for general use on mainnet.”

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This article by Simon Golstein was originally published at Finance Magnates.



03 January 2018


U.S. futures pointed to a higher opening bell on Wednesday as investors look ahead to the Federal Reserve meeting minutes.

The S&P 500 futures rose four points or 0.16% as of 6:42 AM ET (11:42 GMT) while Dow futures increased 42 points or 0.17%. Meanwhile tech heavy Nasdaq 100 futures was up over 13 points or 0.20%.

The Federal Open Market Committee is set to release its December meeting minutes at 2:00 PM ET (19:00 GMT). At its last meeting the central bank raised interest rates by a quarter point and increased its growth outlook for the economy. Investors will be paying close attention to any indication as to how the U.S. economy is performing and any clues as to when the next rate hike will be.

Semiconductor Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) was among the top gainers in pre-market trading, rising 3.19%. Shipping firm On Track Innovations Ltd (NASDAQ:OTIV) increased 4.05% while General Electric (NYSE:GE) inched forward 0.33% and steel production firm ArcelorMittal SA ADR (NYSE:MT) was up 0.92%.

Elsewhere Teva Pharma Industries Ltd ADR (NYSE:TEVA) was down 1.20%, while Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) inched down 0.15% and Moneygram Int (NASDAQ:MGI) lost 5.11%.

In economic news, the manufacturing ISM reports on business and construction spending are expected at 10:00 AM ET (15:00 GMT).

Meanwhile markets seem unmoved by geopolitical tensions building between North Korea and America. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday evening he had a “nuclear button” that was “much bigger and more powerful” than that of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un. The tweet was in response to a New Year’s address by Jong-un, who said he would use the nuclear button if his country was threatened.

In Europe stocks rallied. Germany’s DAX rose 56 points or 0.44% while in France the CAC 40 increased 15 points or 0.30% and in London, the FTSE 100 inched forward two points or 0.03%. Meanwhile the pan-European Euro Stoxx 50 was up eight points or 0.24% while Spain’s IBEX 35 gained 49 points or 0.49%.

In commodities, gold futures were flat at $1,316.10 a troy ounce while crude oil futures rose 0.45% to $60.64 a barrel. The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, rose 0.27% to 91.81.


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This article was originally published at

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