Our last post explained what the Lightning Network is and how it works. We also told you a little bit about how to choose and use a Lightning Wallet. In this post, we are going to cover step-by-step, how to use a Lightning Wallet. So let's jump right in, shall we?

Step 1 -  Download a wallet: there is no shortage of free Lightning Wallets available. But we recommend choosing one from the list below. If you are unsure, pick a custodial mobile wallet, which can be downloaded from your mobile app store (Note: in this guide we'll be demonstrating steps using the Breez Wallet, which may make your choice easier).

  • Non-custodial (you manage your funds but it could be trickier to use): Breez (Android/iOS) / Zap (desktop/iOS) / Eclair (Android) / Phoenix (Android)
  • Custodial (less hassle but you will be trusting a third-party with your bitcoin): Wallet of Satoshi (Android/iOS) / Blue Wallet (Android/iOS)

Once downloaded, the wallet will give you a long code you need to keep safe. If you ever lose your device, this code will allow you to recover your bitcoin from it. Beyond this, the wallet will likely next present you with an option to set an access PIN. It may also back itself up on your personal cloud drive.

Step 2 - Funding your wallet: now you have a wallet it’s time to fund it with bitcoin! If you have Bitcoin stored on another wallet, you can send some from this to your Lightning Wallet. To do this in Breez, click ‘Receive’ and select ‘Receive via BTC Address’. Use your Bitcoin Wallet to send your desired amount of bitcoin to your new Lightning Wallet at the address displayed.

Fig 1: Sending Bitcoin from Bitcoin Wallet to Lightning Wallet‌‌

You can also receive bitcoin directly from another Lightning Wallet user. To do this, click ‘Receive’ and select ‘Receive via Invoice’. Enter the Satoshi value of Bitcoin that you want to receive (eg. 1,500 sats) and click ‘Create’. A unique invoice will then appear with a QR code that another Lightning user can scan with their Lightning Wallet to pay you. Alternatively, you can copy and send the invoice to the other user for them to enter into their wallet. Once they have sent the payment, your wallet will show a ‘Payment Approved!' notice. This means the transaction has taken place, An updated balance will also be shown on your wallet.

Fig 2: Obtaining Bitcoin from another Lighting Wallet user

If you have no Bitcoin (and no friends to get it from), fear not. Head over to our website to find a FastBitcoins merchant you can buy it from. FastBitcoins lets verified users buy physical bitcoin vouchers in physical shops using cash. These vouchers can be redeemed within partner Lightning Wallets (like Breez) in seconds. When you’ve got your hands on a voucher, click ‘Receive’ and select ‘Redeem Voucher’. Enter the voucher code, email address and voucher value, and select ‘Calculate’. If you are happy with the exchange rate select ‘Redeem’. Your bitcoin will be delivered to your Lightning Wallet in minutes. You can of course redeem FastBitcoins vouchers even on non-partner wallets.

Fig 3: Buying and redeeming a Bitcoin voucher

Step 3 - Making Bitcoin payments with Lightning: with a funded wallet you can pay other people and businesses that accept Lightning payments. When you want to pay with Lighting in a physical shop, they will always show you a QR code for the amount owed. When this happens, open your Lightning Wallet, click the ‘Scan’ icon in-between ‘Send’ and ‘Receive’ to open your camera and scan the retailers QR code. This will automatically generate a transaction in your wallet for the specified amount (eg. 1,000 sats), which you can then choose to ‘Approve’. Your wallet will display a message along the lines of ‘Payment was successfully sent!’ and your balance will be updated.

Fig 4: Making a Lightning QR payment

If you want to spend via your Lightning wallet on a mobile website or using a desktop wallet, you will not be able to scan the QR code displayed on your mobile or PC screen. Instead, you will need to copy the invoice presented by the retailer, then click ‘Send’ and then ‘Paste Invoice’. The Breez wallet automatically finds the invoice you have copied (eg 500 sats) and you just need to hit ‘Approve’ to pay it. Your wallet will then display the ‘Payment was successfully sent!’ notice, and your balance will be updated.

Fig 5: Paying a retailer without a QR code

Step 4 - How to withdraw from your Lightning Wallet to your Bitcoin Wallet: to remove bitcoin from your Lightning Wallet into your Bitcoin Wallet click ‘Send’ then ‘Send to BTC Address’. Here you will be prompted to enter your Bitcoin Address and the amount of Satoshi's to withdraw. Then, click ‘Next’ and select the processing speed for the transaction. Then hit ‘Confirm’ to send the transaction.

Success! You should now have a basic understanding of how to use a Lightning Wallet. To experiment with online Lightning payments, we’ve created a list of trusted places you can visit and buy (see below).

Start small. And have fun!

  • Bitrefill: Recharge prepaid gift cards with Bitcoin and Litecoin
  • Y’alls: Read and write articles, with Lightning Network micropayment
  • lntxbot Lightning integration to Telegram with tipping, send and receive and satellite API usage (custodial)
  • Kriptode.com Lightning based games and more.
  • Satoshis.place Internet graffiti paid with Lightning