A Florida-based startup called LNMesh is revolutionizing Bitcoin (BTC) Lightning Network transactions by enabling them to be conducted offline, even without internet access. This innovative approach utilizes local “mesh networks” to facilitate Bitcoin payments in scenarios where traditional internet connectivity is unreliable or unavailable, such as in remote regions or after natural disasters. The project gained attention after researchers from Florida International University published a paper titled “LNMesh: Who Said You Need Internet to Send Bitcoin? Offline Lightning Network Payments using Community Wireless Mesh Networks.”

Mesh networks are decentralized communication networks that allow devices to connect directly to each other via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, creating local networks independent of the internet. LNMesh leverages this concept by establishing a local Lightning Network, which is a faster and cheaper layer built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain. Remarkably, LNMesh does not require changes to the existing Lightning Network protocol or code. Instead, the project utilizes low-cost Raspberry Pi computers to set up a network of Bitcoin and Lightning nodes, which are connected through a local mesh network.

The experiments conducted by LNMesh researchers demonstrated successful Lightning payments between nodes using this offline approach. Since Lightning payments occur off-chain, they can settle offline without relying on the Bitcoin blockchain. However, there are still challenges to overcome, such as coordinating the opening of channels between users in an efficient manner. LNMesh is exploring methods to automate this coordination process by analyzing users’ daily mobility patterns.

LNMesh’s breakthrough opens up possibilities for using Bitcoin in situations with limited or nonexistent internet access, offering a lifeline for those who rely on digital currency. The startup’s commitment to open-source development allows others to explore and build upon its code and research findings, potentially ushering in a new era of decentralized offline payments.


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