What’s the point of lightening?

I've tried to get myself interested enough to use Lightning several times. All the marketing sounds great.

I want to use self-custody.

Buts let me pretend I was happy to let someone else store my Bitcoin. Whoever is storing your Bitcoin will have to open up Lightning channels to several other nodes and stump up some real BTC to secure those transactions (they must fund those channels).
I end up with nothing better than a cheque account with a bank.
I can only transact through that centralised authority. They hold my BTC. They control who and what I can use my Bitcoin with. The Bitcoin securing the lightning channel is exactly like a CBD imposing a reserve asset ratio on banks (requiring them to lock up fiat with the CBD for both security and inter-bank settlement).

In this case, I feel that Lightning is solving scalability by copying the worst aspects of the fiat transaction model.

Back to what I want – self-custody. I feel that if you can't self-custody your own funds then there is no point to Bitcoin.

I run my own BTC node, so I am halfway there. But then I would need to install a Lightning wallet on top of that, keep it running 24×7 (or at least it must be running anytime someone might send funds my way), and start opening channels, in advance, and "staking" real BTC in those channels up to whatever credit limit I want.
This is not "mass adoption" friendly. You can't expect the average John Doe to create their own 24×7 wallet service just to transact – and then use their own BTC as collateral to secure those channels.

Imagine you are back in the fiat world, where you have self-custody cash. You want to go to your local supermarket to buy a loaf of bread, but before you can do that you had to open a line of credit to a payment network. You have to pre-fund that with your own cash, not just for the loaf of bread, but for all the transactions you might do for (say) the rest of the week so it can be finalised as one transaction on the BTC network.
And then, after all of this, you can finally go and get that loaf of bread. You can of course keep buying things until your pre-funded credit facility runs out, but then you have to fund it again.

Perhaps the Lightning network might be ok for money substitutes, like gift cards. Rather than buying a gift card from "Company X" – your Lightening wallet would be hosted by them, and only they have to put up the collateral – but this is a niche case. This is not a "store of value".

So I ask you – what's the point of Lightning?

submitted by /u/pdath
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