In a first of its kind transaction, two Bitcoin coders successfully sent a Bitcoin lightning payment over radio waves.
The transaction was organized on Twitter when Rodolfo Novak, co-founder of CoinKite, a bitcoin hardware startup, invited interested people in attempting a transaction on JS8call. JS8call is a software for Amateur radio that can encode and decode radio waves.
Will be 18 messages long! 40m band looks open.
— NVK (@nvk) March 1, 2019
Elaine Ou, a Bloomberg columnist and developer, received the transaction, and the Bitcoins were moved from Toronto to San Fransisco. The transaction is an example that radio waves are capable of so much more than broadcasting music or talk radio.
After the transaction, Ou tweeted: “Bitcoin is making ham radio cool again!” Ham radio or Amateur radio is a popular service that people use for talking around the world and even in space without using the internet or cell phones.
The idea that radio waves could be used for transactions was brought forth by Nick Szabo, inventor of smart contract. Szabo and Ou discussed the idea at Scaling Bitcoin conference held in San Francisco in 2017. By evading internet for transactions, partition attacks on bitcoin can be prevented. Another aspect of using radio for sending data is making it an alternate means of transferring data in regions where internet is censored.
Speaking to CoinDesk, Ou said, “in case China decides to censor bitcoin via the Great Firewall, or places like North Korea where there is no internet at all.”
Talking about the first Bitcoin lightning payment over the radio, Ou said, “It was a fun demo, but obviously unrealistic because we coordinated everything online before sending the radio signals.”