A Bitcoin advocate based in Canada, Michael Degroot, recently conducted a social media experiment in which he “Zapped” 600 people with small amounts of Bitcoin. Using the Orange Pill App, a platform that connects Bitcoin users worldwide, Degroot sent 300 satoshis ($0.09) each to individuals who had their Lightning wallets attached to their profiles. The experiment aimed to connect and engage with the Bitcoin community, and Degroot has distributed over $50 worth of Bitcoin so far.
Zaps are a feature on the Orange Pill App that allows users to send and receive small Bitcoin tips using the layer-2 Lightning Network. Zaps are measured in satoshis and can be sent peer-to-peer without the need for intermediaries. Users have two options for creating a Lightning wallet: a noncustodial option where they manage their Bitcoin, or a custodial option where a third party manages the Bitcoin on their behalf. By adding their Lightning address to their profiles on platforms like Orange Pill App, users can receive Bitcoin tips from people all around the world instantly and at minimal cost.
The Lightning Network’s use of Zaps has several advantages over traditional money remitters like PayPal or Western Union. These remitters often charge high fees for international money transfers, making them ineffective for micropayments. Zapping, on the other hand, eliminates the need for intermediaries and associated fees. Despite its potential, Zaps and the Lightning Network have yet to gain mainstream attention.
Degroot’s Zapathon proved successful in expanding his network and demonstrating the power of the Lightning Network. He was able to send a small Bitcoin tip to someone living thousands of miles away in South Africa that settled instantly and without any fees. This stands in contrast to traditional payment methods that can take days to process and include high fees.
Nostr, a decentralized social media platform, has popularized the use of Zaps for tipping content creators. Nostr allows users to send Zaps as a form of compensation for valuable content. The platform recently reached 4 million users, and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Bitcoin has been sent through Zaps.
Zapping has become a way for Bitcoiners to contribute to the community and express their values of freedom and borderless transactions. While it may seem counterintuitive to give away a scarce asset like Bitcoin, it aligns with the trend of value-for-value exchange and cutting out middlemen. Zapping provides a direct means of supporting content creators and engaging with like-minded individuals.
However, there have been challenges with integrating Zaps into existing platforms. Apple delisted an app called Damus from the App Store due to its Bitcoin tipping feature, citing violations of payment policies. Nonetheless, protocols like Nostr continue to thrive, with new clients popping up to replace delisted ones.
Despite the challenges, Degroot remains enthusiastic about Zapping and encourages others to participate. He received positive feedback from individuals who were grateful to receive their first-ever Bitcoin tip. Degroot concluded his experiment on August 7, noting that several people had expressed their intention to “pay it forward” by Zapping others.
In conclusion, the use of Zaps and the Lightning Network provides a new way for individuals to engage with the Bitcoin community, support content creators, and conduct borderless transactions. While still in its early stages, Zapping has shown potential in revolutionizing microtransactions and eliminating the need for intermediaries. As more users adopt Lightning wallets and platforms integrate Zaps, this alternative payment method may gain wider recognition and acceptance in the future.