A contactless bitcoin payment history

The Lightning Network (LN) just got a little faster, as the aptly named Bolt Card now allows Bitcoin (BTC) enthusiasts to make contactless payments for goods and services.

A data analyst from the company behind the card, CoinCorner, took the Bolt card during a dry run on the Isle of Man, a British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea. “MSW” — as he’s known — paid at more than eight point-of-sale (PoS) devices during his midday investigation.

Here’s how it worked: For each PoS device that showed a Lightning bill, MSW simply held the NFC-enabled Bolt card nearby. In totalMSW 20 paid for 20 breakfasts, lunches, drinks and snacks with the LN prior to Bolt Card release:

MSW told Cointelegraph that using the Bolt Card “felt completely natural and worked exactly how you’d expect it to!”

“For me, it’s a huge step forward in terms of user experience compared to scanning QR codes. A bonus for me was getting to know some of the local Isle of Man businesses and seeing how they have embraced the Bolt Card.”

A data analyst through and through, MSW also documented the comparable cost of separating satoshis (the smallest denomination of a bitcoin) versus paying for refreshments with pounds sterling, the currency of the Isle of Man. Given the recent bear market price action, the pound value is marginally higher.

MSW’s graphic of his Lightning Lunches. The value of sats spent (blue) is higher than pounds spent (yellow). Source: Twitter

As a Layer 2 technology built on top of Bitcoin, LN is ideal for instant payments and micropayments. Before the Bolt Card, however, shoppers from El Salvador to the Isle of Man paid through the LN by scanning a QR code.

For CoinCorner CEO Danny Scott, this is “not as efficient and user-friendly as we need for a mass audience.” Paying with QR codes is tedious and cumbersome:

“It’s still about unlocking a phone, opening an app, scanning a QR code and then making the transaction. This is a step backwards in terms of user experience compared to what we are used to from in-person payments today.”

In true Bitcoiner style, the Bolt card is compatible with industry protocols such as Lightning and LNURL. Scott emphasizes that they will “explore other concepts to improve The Bolt Card and user experience for all Lightning use cases.”

Overall, the Lightning Network continues to grow, from large payment integrations like Cash App to basic movements and individuals making micropayments.

Related: Rising global adoption positions crypto perfectly for retail use

The Bolt Card is another Bitcoin payment innovation, “real products for the real world,” says Scott. Ultimately, it fuels the path to “hyperbitcoinization.”

The progress on payments comes at odds with recent comments from FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, who got into hot water for claiming he sees “no future” in bitcoin payments.