Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has hinted that the cryptocurrency exchange may integrate Lightning, a layer 2 scaling solution for Bitcoin. In a tweet, Armstrong responded to criticism for not integrating the Lightning network by saying, “Lightning is great and something we’ll integrate.” However, he did not provide any further details on what the integration would involve or when it could be expected.
The Lightning network enables faster and cheaper BTC transactions than the Bitcoin base network, but Coinbase, along with other exchanges such as Binance and FTX, has been criticized for not integrating the technology. If Armstrong follows through on his statement, Coinbase would join Bitfinex, Kraken, and OKX as the largest trading platforms to integrate Lightning.
David Coen, a Lightning enthusiast, had previously suggested that many trading platforms may be reluctant to integrate Lightning because it goes against their business plan of integrating as many altcoins as possible. However, Coinbase has lately been more active in the Ethereum ecosystem, launching “Base” in February 2021, an Ethereum layer 2 application-focused network powered by fellow layer 2 Optimism.
In addition to the potential Lightning integration, Armstrong recently offered a $100 prize for the “best” examples of how people are using crypto in Africa. However, the winner reported that he has not received the payment, prompting a Bitcoiner to suggest that Armstrong “needs a lesson on Lightning.”
It is interesting to note that Armstrong wrote an article in January 2016 expressing support for Bitcoin scaling solutions, saying, “We also did it to show our support for scaling Bitcoin, and encourage things to move forward, since we’d like to see a solution sooner rather than later.” Lightning was launched about two years later in March 2018, with last month marking the fifth anniversary of the network.
If Coinbase were to integrate Lightning, it would be a significant step towards making Bitcoin more accessible and practical for everyday transactions. With the rising popularity of altcoins and increasing demand for fast, low-cost transactions, integrating scaling solutions like Lightning is becoming increasingly important for cryptocurrency exchanges. However, it remains to be seen when and how Coinbase will integrate Lightning, and whether other major exchanges will follow suit.