Yesterday, a rumor began circulating that Twitter is testing a new feature to allow its users to send tips in Bitcoin (BTC) using the Lightning Network.
The rumour was first reported by MacRumors, because upon analysing the beta code of the Tip Jar feature, it would appear that it is already set up to send tips in BTC.
Currently, Tip Jar allows users to add links to Bandcamp, Cash App, Patreon, PayPal and Venmo to collect small donations from users, but according to MacRumors there will soon be an option to pay in Bitcoin.
Details from the latest beta of this feature indicate that users who choose BTC as their payment method will be directed to a tutorial that includes details on how the Lightning Network works and how to use custodial and non-custodial wallets.
Bitcoin wallets for Twitter
Custodial wallets are expected to include Strike, Blue Wallet and Wallet of Satoshi, while non-custodial wallets are expected to include Muun, Breez, Phoenix and Zap.
However, it seems that an account on Strike will be required in order to use the feature, as Twitter will apparently use Strike to generate Bitcoin invoices.
For now, support for tips paid in Bitcoin is only available on the beta version of Twitter, and not even for all users, and it is not yet known when this new feature will be officially released.
Bitcoin tips with Lightning Network
In addition to this rumour, yesterday a screenshot circulated widely on Twitter showing the beta version of the new feature, which clearly shows the link to Lightning Network and Strike.
— Alessandro Paluzzi (@alex193a) September 1, 2021
In particular, it is the use of Lightning Network that makes the difference.
In fact, typically, when one user sends a tip to another, the amount of the donation is usually low or very low. With traditional fiat currency payment gateways, the transaction costs are likely to be higher than the amount sent, so it may be inconvenient to use fiat currency to send these small tips.
With LN, however, transaction costs can be so low as to be negligible, even when sending small amounts.
For example, if a user wanted to send a half-dollar tip, if LN charged a commission of half a cent, for half a dollar spent the recipient would still receive $0.495, while only $0.005 would be lost in commission costs.
Furthermore, if Twitter were to manage an LN node internally on which these transactions could pass, it could also collect fees. While these are very small per transaction, with millions of transactions they would start to become worthwhile, at least to cover the costs of the service.
The fact that it is possible to use non-custodial wallets, though requiring a Strike account, could allow virtually anyone to use this new feature, including those without a bank account or a credit or debit card.
Given the enormous efforts of Twitter, Square and Jack Dorsey to create new Lighting Network-based use cases for Bitcoin, at this point it seems very likely that BTC tips could be made public on Twitter in a few weeks or months.