If you have been around the Lightning space, you may have heard you can make money by running nodes to power the network. A Lightning transaction that routes through your node will pay a fee to you, known as yield.

Big announcements like El Salvador and the Central African Republic accepting Bitcoin as a legal tender, with others expected to follow suit, have created a surge in demand that requires more Lightning channels with higher capacities. Lightning channels connect nodes together to build a network that is used by the payer and payee to transfer BTC to one another faster and cheaper than using the regular BTC blockchain.

With the rise in demand came a rise in the number of people running nodes to cash in. However, since the Layer 2 protocol is in its infancy, adequate infrastructure for node deployers has been an issue. As a result, the founders of Amboss created solutions to make liquidity, discoverability, and relevant data about nodes a seamless and efficient experience.

How did it all start?

Tony Potdevin and Jesse Shrader met on Twitter like most shadowy super coders these days. They were both early advocates of Lightning always thinking of ways they could make the network stronger and easier to use.

Initially, they used basic supporting technologies in the Lightning ecosystem such as 1ML, which were very developer-centric and a little hard to use. Tony and Jesse believed that with some more polish, tools could be created for the Lightning community to help increase its adoption and thus the ability for people to connect to each other.

Initially, node deployers had little opportunity to be found and known by others. People would primarily communicate via Telegram groups, and it would take ages to provide data or inbound and outbound liquidity

Tony and Jesse saw this information bottleneck as an opportunity to become the social network version of Lightning explorers, and Amboss was born.

So, what can you do on Amboss?

Both's main function is as a Lightning Network explorer.

This is not like a regular Bitcoin blockchain explorer since there is no blockchain within Lightning. Instead, these explorers let you view the current and past state of the Lightning Network nodes. This acts as a search and analysis engine for Lightning. It allows people to find statistics on the number of nodes, number of channels, current liquidity, nodes rated by channels, and more.

While giving aggregate data, Amboss also allows users to obtain information about specific nodes to help determine if they would like to open a channel to it, thus increasing the network effect. One cool feature is fee analysis, which condenses information that is otherwise spread out, put into one view, tailored around specific choices you may make as a node operator.

Magma: Liquidity marketplace

When managing a Lightning network node and its channels, liquidity is an essential aspect. Its peers' inbound capacities will determine how much Bitcoin they can receive, and their outbound capacities will determine how much Bitcoin they can send.

Outbound capacity can be obtained by opening a channel with other peers on the network. However, one needs to acquire the inbound capacity to receive Lightning transactions. Managing Lightning liquidity becomes difficult when you cannot find the new inbound capacity to keep your business receiving Lightning payments. This is where the liquidity marketplace comes in.

Liquidity marketplaces seek to improve communication about where liquidity is needed in the Lightning Network. Participants can earn extra Bitcoin by providing liquidity. Both provides market pricing information that can help liquidity providers make the best decision on where to deploy their liquidity.

In creating this marketplace, it is clear that Amboss has prioritized the protection of users from bad actors. The protection they provide comprises two components. The HODL invoice and reputation system.

The HODL prevents channel sellers from running away after receiving a lightning payment without actually providing the channel. After 3 confirmations, the channel transaction can't be reversed and the lightning payment can safely be settled.

The reputation system tracks if a consumer purchased a channel that for some reason did not resolve. This is done by looking at the fee updates which impact the seller's reputation. Repeated abuse of the system or confirmations of cheating could result in expulsion from the Magma marketplace.

What are the areas in which node operators still need help?

Both still believes node operators need help researching peers to make the best possible decisions with their bitcoin in the decentralized network. They state that “Many node operators need help getting discovered by their peers on the Lightning Network and highlighting what makes their node special”.

They highlighted that there are still a large number of issues when it comes to making very reliable payments, often due to liquidity issues. They are hoping that their Magma marketplace can be an answer for this.

What is next?

To keep up with the breakneck innovation and suggestions that users have provided, both plans to grow its team.

They are also committed to making some UX improvements to make their services easy to integrate with their API.

Both's main goal is for the space to become more efficient. They hope that innovators will take the opportunity to automate participation in their marketplace. Enterprise data will be available for them to make decisions that contribute to network growth

They are currently known as a Lightning network explorer but are keen to create tools to support and coordinate the decentralized network. They believe that “If the Lightning network can be more efficient, everyone that holds Bitcoin stands to benefit.”

What innovations is Amboss looking forward to the most within the space?

When asked what innovations they look forward to the most, they mentioned a new Lightning Labs project called “Taro”. This is not the superfood that is often consumed in Samoa; this is the next frontier for Bitcoin adoption. It enables other assets to be transacted over the Lightning Network without requiring the core network to make changes. If the project is successful, people will be able to send LN-USD and other currencies instantly and with minimal fees. This will seriously challenge the current SWIFT banking system like never before, all whilst bringing more value to Bitcoin.

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If you haven't already, check us out on Amboss: ow.ly/8yH250Kk33L

Happy Lightning!

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