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#60 - André Neves, LNM parabolic growth & Lightning friends
🎮 Catch up with André Neves
André Neves is the CTO and Co-Founder of ZEBEDEE, a gaming fintech company that is building a high-throughput payment processing system. The system is powered by Bitcoin nanotransactions and is designed to enable true economic interactions in gaming environments and online virtual worlds. Neves is a Bitcoin Lightning Network engineer and systems architect, with extensive expertise in product design.
André's dedication to supporting the broader Bitcoin ecosystem is unparalleled. In addition to running ZEBEDEE, he is committed to open source development. In 2021, André co-founded NBD, an open source initiative from ZEBEDEE that supports Bitcoin and Lightning development. NBD is best known for creating and releasing Nostr, an open protocol for censorship-resistant global networks that has been making waves in the world.
André, a product of Chaincode Labs' Lightning Residency, emphasizes the importance of developer education. In 2021, he co-founded Vinteum, a non-profit Bitcoin research and development center dedicated to supporting Bitcoin developers in Brazil and the wider Latin America region. Vinteum not only provides funding, but also trains developers and equips them with the necessary tools to build on Bitcoin and Lightning.
You guessed it, André is a busy man. And yet, he took the time to answer our questions on his life and his work in great detail. Much appreciated André!
How did you fall into the Bitcoin rabbit hole?
André Neves: I first read it like everyone else did in the Slashdot article. I had already heard about Bitcoin in general but hadn’t caught the bug yet. An old roommate of mine was already deep down the rabbit hole and simply wouldn’t stop talking about “bitcoin”, which led me to read more into the technical properties of it.
I first saw Bitcoin’s immediate value from a technology perspective rather than an economic one; a ‘real money that can move on the internet’.
I was running Lightning nodes on testnet before it became mainstream. I was already fascinated by the Lightning Network. Soon enough, I was invited to participate in the Chaincode Labs Lightning Network residency in New York City, alongside 15 other developers. Peers and presenters included Justin Camarena from Bitrefill, Jack Mallers from Strike, Rene Pickhardt from Mastering the Lightning Network book, Pierre Rochard from Kraken/RIOT, Alex Bosworth from Lightning Labs, and Will O'Beirne from Lightning Joule, just to name a few.
After that, I joined BitDevs NY in 2019 and started running the socratic seminar alongside J and Murch. Now, in 2023, I’ve migrated to the West Coast where I lead the socratic at BitDevs LA.
In 2019 I also co-founded ZEBEDEE with Simon Cowell and Christian Moss. We’re now taking over the Bitcoin payments space one satoshi at a time.
How can Bitcoin transform the gaming industry?
André Neves: Bitcoin, and its payment network, the Lightning Network, allow for Bitcoin to be sent and received instantly at very low fees. Bitcoin did to money what the Internet did to information – turn it all into data that can be sent immediately around the world.
Game studios have always had a hard time monetizing their games and infusing them with real money. That’s why so many games are filled with constant ads, fake coins, and arbitrary gems. Bitcoin solves this. When game developers power their games with ZEBEDEE, they’re able to instantly send tiny amounts of bitcoin to a user’s lightning wallet. As a result, these games have seen a significant decrease in user churn and a growth of thousands of percentages in return on ad spend for user acquisition.
The ‘so called Metaverse’ is nothing more than true interoperability between worlds/experiences/platforms/apps – Bitcoin is that globally interoperable, unstoppable money, and Lightning is its payments rail.
To further simplify Lightning payments, you created the Lightning Address protocol. Do you see any additional areas of Bitcoin or Lightning that might benefit from a better UX?
André Neves: When it comes to adoption, UX will still be the name of the game until folks begin to adopt the new Bitcoin standard. I believe self-custody / key management needs an incredible amount of UX work before it can become mainstream.
While self custody UX has improved by leaps and bounds already, if we are to expect average people to ‘self custody on a regular basis’ we will need to make the whole process much less technical.
It is incorrect to assume that users are technical. At the end of the day, this is money – it doesn’t have to be an ideological choice for everyone. It’s important to meet the customer where they are, otherwise they won’t even entertain a concept as complex as Bitcoin.
In terms of other areas of UX improvement, I’d love to see further abstraction of ‘Lightning’ by companies and products. At the end of the day, Lightning is simply Bitcoin’s payment rails. So, instead of differentiating Lightning from Bitcoin, let’s just call it all Bitcoin with a unit of currency denominated in satoshis. Separating Lightning and Bitcoin is taking a user away from ‘User Space’, and bringing them into ‘Developer Space’. Users simply do not need to know whether what just happened behind the scenes is a BOLT11 invoice or a spontaneous keysend payment.
To onboard non-bitcoiners, we must simplify, we must abstract.
QR codes are one such abstraction. Lightning Addresses are another. ZBD Linked Accounts are yet another. We must continue to improve and make it easier to interact with and use Bitcoin.
As the creator, and one of the first providers of Lightning Addresses in the market, it’s fascinating to see the growth of the protocol since its inception in late 2021. I remember giving my first Lightning Address talk at MIT Expo in 2022 and I’d argue the concept was still largely unknown. Now, I don’t know of many people that use Bitcoin regularly and don’t have a Lightning Address today.
What is the potential of Nostr and what part can Bitcoin play in its growth?
André Neves: Nostr is an emerging open communications protocol. Bitcoin is an open monetary protocol and Lightning is an open payments protocol.
When you have open networks that interoperate at scale, wonderful things come to life.
For now, we’re seeing the recreation of already-existing solutions like Twitter, Telegram and Instagram clones. I look forward to seeing the NEW ideas that folks will build with Nostr. Right now, the ‘monetizable’ aspects of Nostr are the most exciting to me. ZBD recently published paid relay support for Nostream relay opeators and it has quickly become the norm for mitigating spam on relays. And of course, Zaps are still all the rage. Interoperable across clients, devices, and platforms, with the click of a button, users can now instantly attach real value to their posts. On the ZEBEDEE platform, we’ve already seen a massive increase in Lightning Address transactions as a clear result of Nostr Zaps.
Bitcoin provides the monetary layer for the open Nostr communications layer. Money and communication have long been foundational for societal growth and prosperity. Being able to build upon decentralized open networks for the future is very promising.
How is Bitcoin adoption going in Brazil?
André Neves: Brazil is an interesting country to discuss Bitcoin. In the last 50-60 years, the country has seen at least 4 different national currencies - from Cruzeiro to Cruzado to Real, etc. Bitcoin feels like a natural evolution to a lot of Brazilians. Bitcoin’s volatility is not unlike the Brazilian real which has fluctuated wildly against USD over the years. That being said, when it comes to payments, Brazilians are ahead of the curve. Brazilians use the PIX network, which is a payment network built and maintained by the central bank of Brazil. Anyone, from the peddler on the street to the multinational corporation, can interact and participate in the PIX network.
Payments are actually quite seamless when everyone is on the same network.
That being said, Bitcoin adoption is thriving in Brazil and remains incredibly topical. Brazil has one of the highest rates of per capita internet access in the world, making it one of the most connected countries. Additionally, Brazil has a large gaming community, which has contributed to ZEBEDEE’s sizable user base in the country. Through our cash-out capabilities with our partner Bipa, gamers can turn their Bitcoin directly into Brazilian reals within the app. So they’re able to earn with ZEBEDEE, cash out, and spend their money however they’d like.
What is your opinion on ordinals and inscriptions?
André Neves: Bitcoin is a decentralized blockchain, which means that no one can stop it or prevent others from doing what they want with it.
Just like money, internet, airplane – all technology is amoral. How you use it is what matters.
If the NFT saga is anything to inform here, I believe there will be a market for ordinals and inscriptions in Bitcoin.
⚔️ LNM Fam
Crazy times huh? Several bailouts in the US, a few systemic banks under extreme pressure in Europe and CBDCs at the horizon all around. And yet this crazy little thing called Bitcoin keeps producing blocks of transactions every 10 minutes without asking the permission to anyone. Feels good to be a Bitcoiner!
😅 We have had a lot of fun lately on LN Markets. Given the number of “memed share PL” we have seen around, it seems like you have enjoyed our latest feature. We have a lot more coming soon™️, stay tuned!
👀 February has been our biggest month ever in terms of trading volume, doubling our previous All-Time-High. Though it looks like March is already going to challenge this new ATH. And we can observe a nice decorrelation between trading volumes and BTCUSD price. LFG!
🔥 Wondering why Bitcoin reached $28k? Well our new team member Théo Pantamis has a theory of his own (it’s because he joined LN Markets as R&D Engineer for the non-French speakers absolutists 😅).
👀 Awesome thread on LN Markets, thank you teemu 🙏
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🤝 Our friend Javier Bastardo is on a significant mission to promote Bitcoin awareness throughout South America. You can support his work and help him teach Bitcoin to Spanish speakers trough IRL meetups here.
☢️ “Holographic tetrahedron”, nice synonym of the word bank
😏 “History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme”
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