Flow seeks to make it easier for everyday users to open channels and acquire capacity on the Lightning Network.
Lightning node cloud hosting platform Voltage has announced Flow, a new interface that aims to make the Lightning Pool liquidity marketplace more accessible to everyday users. Pool is an open market that allows Lightning nodes to open channels and purchase inbound or outbound capacity for a fee.
“Flow gives the Lightning liquidity market an easy interface for those in need of liquidity,” per a press release sent to BitcoinLinux. “With Flow, you can leverage our easy-to-use API or Dashboard (coming soon) to create orders in Pool auctions. No more setting up your own Pool account.”
Flow makes it easier for Lightning Network participants to increase their inbound or outbound capacity on demand by automating the high-quality node finding and channel selection processes. It leverages the BOS score to relieve participants from manually searching online for good peers.
Customers can use Flow by signing up for a Voltage account and installing the Pool daemon on their node, which after completion, will allow them to use the Voltage API to create an order for a new channel. Paying for the channel can be made with either an on-chain or Lightning transaction, and a sidecar ticket will be generated upon payment. Finally, the user needs to register the ticket with the Pool daemon.
Flow is currently available as a Beta and only through the Voltage API. The node hosting firm said it is working on bringing Flow to its web platform but hasn’t provided a timeline.
The Importance Of Liquidity In The Lightning Network
Liquidity is an essential aspect of managing your Lightning Network node and its channels. Its peers’ inbound capacities will determine how many bitcoin they can receive, and their outbound capacities will determine how many bitcoin they can send.
Overall capacity is added to a channel on its opening transaction, the amount of which becomes that channel’s total capacity. Initially, inbound capacity is zero for the peer that bootstrapped the channel with the opening transaction and equal to the total capacity for the other peer. The inverse is true for outbound capacity for each peer.
Users can obtain outbound capacity by opening a channel with another peer on the network, but in order to receive Lightning transactions, one needs to acquire inbound capacity. In terms of a specific peer, they can increase their inbound capacity by spending satoshis to the other peer, which will increase their outbound capacity by receiving them.
But a tricky part of managing Lightning liquidity is how to add inbound capacity beyond the total capacity of a channel after it is already open.
Lightning Pool is one option to increase inbound capacity. It allows a Lightning Network participant to acquire liquidity by signaling a need for it and incentivizing others to open channels with them with their capital, enabling participants to acquire large amounts of liquidity quickly.
“Pool allows a new participant in the network to easily bootstrap their ability to receive funds by paying only a percentage of the total amount of inbound funds acquired,” per Lightning Labs documentation. “As an example, a node could acquire 100 million satoshis…for 100,000 satoshis, or 0.1%. Ultimately the prices will be determined by the open marketplace.”
By buying a channel on Pool, users can more quickly access bitcoin liquidity from those who have capital to deploy on the Lightning Network, without needing to actually know an interested peer — and Flow seeks to make that process easier for everyday users of the Bitcoin second-layer solution.