Research shows that Lightning Network beats Apple Pay in terms of merchant onboarding

Lightning Network is only a few seconds slower than the best (centralized) digital payment solutions on the market such as Apple Pay, and is actually “days faster” when it comes to onboarding merchants, according to researcher JP Thor.

A new study conducted by Thor showed that the Lightning Network beats Apple Pay when it comes to merchant onboarding. The test is simple: compare the speed of onboarding to a new mobile payment account with a lightning wallet.

He found that it’s not quite as simple as Pomp suggests through the transaction itself is indeed much quicker since no intermediary is involved.

Sending a payment across the Lightning Network will always be faster than Visa.

LN payments can be processed as fast as a TCP/IP connection between two peers. A single channel has been shown to process over 250 TPS, so the network can scale to no real upper bound.

But let’s consider the full picture, which involves onboarding for users AND merchants. Which is really faster?

Different payment gateways

Taking a look at the current payment solutions in the industry right now:

Mastercard Debit Card with Apple Pay
The test used UpBanking; a mobile-first bank in Australia that offers an Apple Pay option to a debit card. Merchants can set up an account on mobile, and get activated in minutes.

Wallet of Satoshi
Wallet of Satoshi, a very simple custodial lightning wallet that has a fiat on-rail. Again merchants can set this up entirely on mobile.

Blue wallet
he also tested BlueWallet with a sovereign LNDHub, as well as just using their custodial solution. Merchants can onboard from on-chain bitcoin, using CoinMama to buy bitcoin from a credit card.

Debit Card w/ Apple Pay

  1. Downloading App: 1 minute
  2. Setting up Account: 2 minutes
  3. Ready for Mobile Payments: 1 minute
  4. Adding funds with PayID: 1 minute

The account-making process requires submitting the standard KYC information, but validation is fast. The account is ready once KYC is done. 2 minutes is fast, but hey, I had all my docs ready. Registering with Apple Pay requires a number of additional steps, but can be done within a minute.

Funds were sent in from another bank account using PayID (a fast intra-bank payment solution for Australian Banks). Logging in, sending to the PayID registered, and receiving in the Up account took about a minute.

In total, a new user can expect to be up and running with funds (with information prepared) inside of 5 minutes. Not bad for 2019.

Custodial Version

Getting a Lightning Wallet open with BlueWallet using their custodial solution is much faster. Many options to fill:

  1. On-chain bitcoin can be sent in after three confirmations~30 minutes
  2. Off-chain bitcoin can be sent in by sending from WoS — instant
  3. On-chain bitcoin can be sent in from buying off CoinMama with a credit card ~ 10 minutes. This requires KYC. It then needs to be moved to the channel ~ 30 minutes.

To be fair to this comparison, custodial Blue Wallet will always be slower than just using Wallet of Satoshi in Australia, but for international readers this may be the only option (for now).

In summary, Wallet of Satoshi offers a comparable onboarding experience and speed as the leading mobile bank in Australia, with a setup time with funds in-channel of 5 minutes. Unfortunately, non-custodial wallets are out of reach for mobile currently.

The tester notes that interms of payments, Lightning Network is already comparable to the best fiat payment solutions on the market as it’s only a few seconds slower than Apple Pay. Thur concludes that this “should improve with better Wallet UX (NFC + Widget).”

But paying merchants is just one of Lightning’s many capabilities since the real disruption lies in the fact that new business models can send micro-payments around the world.

This means they can allow for payments of a few cents for, say, bandwidth, reading an article, streaming, tweeting, and more.


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Edith Muth

Edith Yue is CryptoMeNow's analyst. She loves to do intensive research on how blockchain will make an impact in our society. You can contact Edith at

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