Bitcoin yields a robustness and versatility that remains unmatched by fiat money. Its use cases extend far beyond the simple parameters of investments and transactions. The additional arrival of its Lightning Network has introduced a new layer of practicability that continues to excite and engage users.
Here André Neves details the wider use cases of Bitcoin, how it has come to revolutionise financial accessibility, and beyond this, to the important and transformative role it’s playing in today’s gaming ecosystem.
A major proponent of Bitcoin as an enabler for digital economies, Neves is co-founder and CTO of ZEBEDEE, a fintech for Bitcoin gaming, and a co-creator of the Lightning Address protocol on the layer-2 Bitcoin Lightning Network.
As CTO, he is the chief platform architect where he focuses his engineering abilities on further enabling instant, frictionless and near-free transactions at a massive scale for a global userbase through greater integrations for the gaming community.
One thing Bitcoin does very well—better than any other cryptocurrency—is serve as digital money. It has a quality that no other network (monetary or otherwise) can quite match: it never goes down. Even Visa and Mastercard need to have to shut down for planned maintenance.
With Bitcoin, you don’t need to trust anyone to carry out your transactions. Its protocol is fair, predictable, treats everyone equally and never fails. That is important for money.
Within financial and savvy crypto circles, Bitcoin on-chain is recognised for being an exceptional solution for handling large cross-border payments thanks to its low transaction fees that don’t increase if you send larger payments and negligible processing times compared to traditional banking rails.
It’s perfect for wealth management and rightly earned the moniker ‘digital gold’ as an investable asset.
However, beyond this, most people remain completely unaware of the broader uses of Bitcoin. Even many ‘crypto experts’ you’ll see on the evening news discussing the technology often show a surprising lack of knowledge on where Bitcoin is today.
The Bitcoin ecosystem is much more than just on-chain payments. The Lightning Network especially stands out as Bitcoin’s best-kept secret.
Bitcoin’s Lightning Network is a second layer on top of the blockchain that enables instant transactions with near-zero fees. Think sending a fraction of a cent with fees a fraction of that. That kind of performance simply isn’t possible with fiat money.
And, while other cryptocurrencies may support similar efficiencies, they lack the security, decentralisation and, most of all, unyielding robustness of Bitcoin.
What’s more, Lightning builds on Bitcoin to make it easy to develop and publish new protocols with open standards others can choose to adopt (or not). That’s how Lightning Address was created—a small group of developers built it over a long weekend and launched it immediately to the world.
Now, almost every Lightning Wallet supports Lightning Address, providing users with a simple, short address that’s as easy to use as an email address to send and receive instant Bitcoin payments. There was no funding for Lightning Address, and there is no company that controls it.
This is just one of many open protocols finding life on the Lightning Network, which make Bitcoin Lightning the trojan horse of the finance world. Before you know it, it’ll be in your apps, too.
Video games make the perfect use case for Bitcoin beyond basic payments
Beyond direct peer-to-peer (p2p) payments, Bitcoin Lightning’s ability to handle massive amounts of instant microtransactions has opened the door for new ways to engage consumers through digital media—especially in the area of gaming.
Although most gamers aren’t necessarily interested in blockchain gaming for its own sake, they are interested in new methods to interact in and gain value from games.
Today’s consumers, in general, are also more aware of the value they create through their engagements in the attention economy, where their views and time get monetised through digital advertising in any case.
Gamers can invest thousands of hours in gameplay and then, when that specific game dies down, have nothing to show for it. Entertainment alone is no longer enough. Through rewards, gameplay feels less like empty calories and gives more incentive to play and keep coming back.
For gamers globally, Bitcoin provides an opportunity to earn simply by playing, both competitively for large prizes and casually for small rewards in exchange for their attention. This alone can be life-changing.
For someone in the United States, making ten dollars in a month playing mobile games may be insignificant but, for players in nations like India or the Philippines, that money makes a difference.
Not everyone in the world has a stable national currency but they can all have Bitcoin. In markets like Brazil, which has been hit hard by inflation and currency instability, we are seeing this trend take shape for many in the gaming community.
Because Bitcoin is global, interoperable and decoupled from any one national economy, its application for gaming rewards is showing value for global gaming economies.
Video games have always been a sandbox for the early adoption of new technologies—think 3D graphics, GPUs and AI.
The adoption of Bitcoin payments in gaming will not only impact the user experience of gamers but will pioneer a new economic model that reverberates across industries to create positive opportunities for people anywhere in the world as we enter a truly digital future.
If you think this is an extremely forward-looking, futuristic vision, you may be surprised to learn we’re already seeing this play out with people earning significant money in ZEBEDEE-enabled Bitcoin games.
We’re getting regular messages from people saying they paid the bills, bought groceries or even paid rent on their house with the money earned playing games for Bitcoin.
As this new virtual economy matures, we’ll see even further monetisation in games, and even a new workforce sprouting to meet the demands of players or businesses aiming to reach achievements faster. Real economies, with real jobs, are coming to virtual worlds. Faster than we think.
Looking ahead, expect to see play-to-earn (P2E) replace free-to-play models as gamers grow to demand bi-directional flow of value within games.
Over time, we will also see even more game mechanics and economic models emerge that we’ve yet to imagine.
For Bitcoin, this will also provide a major step in further driving consumer adoption. A single truly massive game today has more users than all current blockchains combined, and the gaming industry continues to rapidly grow.
Video game integrations of Bitcoin provides the ability to onboard millions of new users to start using the digital currency on a daily basis and eventually use it more regularly, like we do credit cards or cash today.
Ultimately, a digital world needs digital money.
Bitcoin on the Lightning Network offers the best form of digital money available today, and gaming is providing the best avenue for its evolution. As with all technologies, these evolutions move exponentially fast. Mass adoption will be here much sooner than you think.