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Berlin’s Pub Room77: First Beer in the World Paid with a Lightning Transaction

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The pub Room77 in Berlin has been the Bitcoin center of the German capital for some years. Here you have been able to buy beer and burgers with bitcoin for a long time. Over the weekend of April 1, the pub again explored new frontiers as Lightning developer Olaoluwa Osuntokun helped the owner of the pub, Joerg Platzer, to set up a Lightning node - and to accept Lightning transactions with testnet coins for beer.

“For many years now we have been accepting Bitcoin (with zero confirmations and directly, not through Bitpay) at our bar/restaurant in Berlin,” Joerg Platzer writes.

“Today we have deployed a testnet lightning node and accept testnet coins via the Lightning Network (LN) from a few customers to get a glimpse into the future. And that future looks shining bright!”

To be precise, the pub owner did not accept testnet coins for a beer. Since one of the rules of the testnet is that you should never give testnet coins a value, this would not be possible. Instead, Platzer simply gave everyone a beer for free who found out how to send him a Lightning transaction with testnet coins. For setting up the Lightning node, Platzer enjoyed the help of lightning developer Olaoluwa Osuntokun aka Roasbeef, who probably has been the first to pay a peer with Lightning.

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Platzer is thrilled by the first experience with the decentralized payment network: “No more waiting for the customer's transaction being broadcasted, transactions arrive in milliseconds, not seconds. No more looking out for double spend attacks. Not even Peter Todd is going to RBF us on LN. Massively advanced privacy for us as well as our customers as only we can see the transactions on our payment channel.”

As a bitcoin-accepting brick and mortar merchant, Platzer is confident that:

“Every merchant on the planet wants this stuff. It is like after all these years Bitcoin shows that with LN it can live up to its promises in regards to efficiency, speed, irreversibility and privacy no matter how many people will use it.”

The Lightning Network connects various payment channels which exchange and alter unconfirmed transactions in a way that smart contracts eliminate the option to scam the counterparty under most conditions. This architecture of payment has the advantage that not every transaction needs to be processed and stored on the blockchain but has just to fly from one Lightning node to the other, which enables the network to reach massive scalability without increasing the burden on the nodes which provide the core infrastructure of Bitcoin. Since Lightning fundamentally changes the rules of Bitcoin’s scalability in a desirable way, many developers vote for developing Lightning to increase the capacity of Bitcoin instead of investing too much work on scaling on-chain.

Currently Lightning is still in an alpha stadium. However there is a specification of the “bolts” Lightning is build upon, and the first implementations are already compliant with Lighting. The version used in Room77 at the weekend, 1nd, is currently not compliant with the specs, but the developers are confident that this can be achieved in the following weeks. As the test in Room77 demonstrates, the Lightning Network is more or less ready to leave the early laboratories and prove itself in the real world. But to unleash the current Lightning implementation Bitcoin first needs to activate SegWit.