The Daily Moon

Your daily (lunar) base where you will find all the lightning-related news outer space.

Machankura | The Magic of the Lightning Network

How LN works


The Bitcoin lightning network (LN) has very interesting analogies to real lightning.

See (though you cannot see it) before a lightning bolt strikes by powerfully moving from one point to another, an electric field has to be created between the two points whose electric potentials are different i.e. one has a very low potential (due to having negative charges) while the other has a very high potential (due to having positive charges). And the electric field has to connect the two points.

Once the field has ascertained its path and the potential difference is greater than the electrical resistance, lightning strikes.

As long as the balance of charges on the two clouds that is the negatively charged cloud and the positively charged cloud remains below the threshold, there is no need to conduct lightning. The clouds can balance out their charges from wherever (e.g. neighbouring clouds or smoke particles from the ground) and the charge problem is solved. 

The charges get neutralized without any need to conduct lightning.

So the LN actually does not send a verified Bitcoin transaction each time you make a transaction. Like lightning, it does not conduct each time a positive charge is on one side (someone needing to receive x amount of Bitcoin) and a negative charge is on the other (someone needing to send x amount of Bitcoin).

It settles everything “within its clouds” until a threshold is reached that requires addressing on the main chain. The chain which requires 10 minutes of wait time (The Time that Bitcoin converts to Time-value using Energy to create Energy-value) and some good deal of fees.

So for example, if you want to send 10,000 satoshis to your friend via LN, it will take about one second and zero transaction fees but it will not have passed via-and-into

the main chain. The LN will create you both some “Bitcoin-like addresses” within its clouds and will credit (pardon this word) your friend 10,000 coins while debiting you 10,000 coins.

Later, while you are minding your business doing something else offline, it will have accumulated millions of these +BTC and –BTC charges enough to

CRRRAAAACK-BOOM!!  Via-and-onto the main chain.

Pretty neat huh.

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Maali Marvin Kenneth is a Teacher, Writer, and Student of Quantum Information Science. Dreaming about Bitcoin. Follow him on Twitter


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Earlier this year, a unique custodial Bitcoin service allowing the storage, sending and receiving of bitcoin satoshis via the LN emerged.

And you do not need an internet connection.

Called Machankura, the platform allows you to do all the above while only using USSD codes. Any mobile phone today has USSD capability including the ones without internet capability (feature phones / dumbphones) commonly called “kabiriki” in Uganda or “Akasimu kamapensa” meaning “a button phone”.

You can find their official website at

These phones are pretty accessible to the lowest income earners as some are as cheap as $3 or 15,000 UGX. Some models are being Made in Uganda such as the SIMI S300

Side note: Interestingly, these phones are sometimes ascribed to the rich  (who have lots of mobile money) since they are impossible to hack via the internet. As long as one keeps one’s USSD pin codes a secret, Machankura is giving people the opportunity to turn these cheap phones into Bitcoin wallets with satoshis saved on their SIM cards.

Side note 2 : Kabiriti means “a match stick”. Fire. Energy!

How Machankura integrates USSD with LN’s “Bitcoin-like cloud” as I explained serves well for a rich technical exploration but I would like to point out the socio-economic power of what something like Machankura provides.

No bank account required. No high transaction fees. So anybody and everybody can send and receive monetary value even while deep in the village with no access to wifi. And you can trust that the value of Bitocin will only go higher so getting experienced at trading with it is a big personal step towards financial freedom.

Africa as a whole is heavy on the idea of  mobile money payments because for many people here, mobile phones came first before bank accounts. In fact for many Africans, banking means mobile money.

They missed banking with a Post Office Box number, LC1 letter, et cetera and went straight to momo. To open a momo account, you just need to own a registered SIM card and a dumbphone.

So USSD Bitcoin is something that they will easily connect to and with USSD, Machankura will lead the way to on-boarding Africans galore.

Picture of Maali Marvin Kenneth

Maali Marvin Kenneth


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