French bitcoin startup ACINQ has closed $1.7 million in seed funding to aid its development of the tools and services necessary to help the Lightning Network (LN) experience mass adoption.
According to the announcement, the Series Seed round was led by venture capital firm Serena, with participation from Bertrand Diard, Sébastien Lucas, bitcoin trader Alistair Milne, and Yves Weisselberger. Including previous funding, ACINQ — which was founded in 2014 — has now raised $2 million in 2018.
The Lightning Network, as CCN.com reported, is a second-layer scaling technology that can run on top of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency networks. Using Bitcoin’s built-in scripting language, users can deposit on-chain funds to off-chain LN payment channels. Those funds can be instantly routed to any LN user, and they do not require on-chain verification until the payment channel is closed, at which point they would be settled on the blockchain.
So while the main Bitcoin blockchain can only process a handful of transactions every second, the LN should be able to facilitate a virtually unlimited number of instant payments at virtually-negligible cost.
In addition to general scaling, supporters argue that the LN can be used to increase user privacy, facilitate the trustless exchange of cryptocurrencies across blockchains in transfers known as “atomic swaps ,” and make microtransactions economically-feasible — a feature that could dramatically expand the use cases of cryptocurrency. That’s the goal, anyway.
The technology is still in beta, and, although users have been entrusting an increasingly-large amount of bitcoin to the LN protocol layer — ~$740,000 worth at the time of writing — it is still a long way from achieving widespread usage among current cryptocurrency users, much less the general public. ACINQ is working to change that.
An early mover in the space, ACINQ began working on the Lightning Network in 2015, shortly after Joseph Poon and Thaddeus Dryja first outlined this scaling solution in a whitepaper. The firm now stands alongside Lightning Labs and Blockstream as one of the LN’s main leading developers.
ACINQ’s most well-known product is the Eclair software suite, one of the three major open-source implementations of the Lightning Network. Eclair Wallet was the first LN wallet released in the Google Play store, and it remains the most popular mobile LN wallet with more than 5,000 downloads as of the time of writing.
ACINQ has also launched a service called “Strike” — so named due to its similarity to payment processing service Stripe — which allows merchants to more easily accept LN payments. Through the service, ACINQ accepts LN payments on behalf of a merchant and then sends the funds, minus a 1 percent fee, to the merchant’s on-chain bitcoin wallet when they reach a user-defined threshold.
The firm says that it plans to use its new funding to hire more software engineers, enabling it to build out new LN services.
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