Tested Eclair Android Lightning Wallet

tl;dr: I completed a successful LN payment on mainnet with an old Android tablet using a random node and random service.

Process:

  • Downloaded Eclair Wallet form the the Play Store on a $ 20 Android tablet (slow).
  • Created a bitcoin wallet with a 24 word seed.
  • Swiped left to see my regular bitcoin address (segwit).
  • Sent funds to the wallet, and waited 6 confirmations.
  • Swiped right to see the lightning wallet.
  • I selected to open a channel with an Acinq node, the makers of Eclair. There are other options, like Random node, scan a node URl, paste node URl. On purpose I selected a node that has nothing to do with the service I wanted to pay to. Opening a direct channel would have been too easy.
  • It started opening a channel, I could see the on chain transaction in the transaction history.
  • At this point the status of the channel was orange: opening channel.
  • After a few confirms the status changed to green: normal.
  • At this point I was ready to make LN transactions.
  • The wallet could see appr. 4000 channels.
  • I tried to buy credits on bitrefill, because they have a BTC LN payment option for mainnet. They also support LTC LN too btw.
  • I payed the invoice by scanning a QR code. Initially I thought the payment failed, because it took like 40 seconds or so to calculate a route and it must have been a complicated multi-hop route.
  • Finally the payment completed, and I got credited with the bitrefill product instantly. I could see the LN transaction in the transaction history as paid.
  • The routing fees were almost 1 cent, which is I think quite a lot for LN, but I must have used a bunch of hops to get there, which is why it took long to calculate the route initially.
  • I made more tests and then, closed the channel. This created an on-chain transaction and after confirmations the remaining LN bitcoins returned to the regular bitcoin wallet without a problem.

Learnings:

  • LN works as advertised, which is great news. You don't need to open a channel with the service you want to pay to directly. But if you do frequent transactions to them, it makes total sense to do so to speed up things, and to lower your fees even more.
  • The speed of your device matter when it comes to calculating the optimal route. Any desktop will be ok, but slow mobile devices may not be ideal for frequent on location payments.
  • Lots of hops may cause the fees to be significant, yet still extremely cheap.
  • In the current Eclair for Android wallet, you can't create an invoice yet. So you will only be able to send bitcoins on LN, not receive. This of course limits the capabilities of the wallet at this point, but still great if you want to pay a service regularly very fast from your mobile device.
  • You can obviously backup your bitcoin wallet seed (by writing it down), but not the LN channels. So you should not put too much funds into LN at this point with this wallet.

Generally, I'm really pleased with LN at this point. If wallets improve at this pace, within a few months we will have wallets that are ready for average people (non-geeks) to use, and we will have more and more services accepting LN bitcoins, because it's faster and safer for them then regular bitcoin transactions. It will be a very pleasant and safe experience for users.

Over the next 2 years I foresee gradual increase in demand for BTC from LN node operators who will fund large channels with the hope of collecting fees form millions of transactions.

submitted by /u/binarygold
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