Why It’s Important To Build Stablecoins On Bitcoin

Lightning Labs is building the ability to use stablecoins on the Lightning Network using the new Taro protocol due to demand in emerging markets.

This is a transcribed excerpt of the “Bitcoin Magazine Podcast,” hosted by P and Q. In this episode, they are joined by Lightning Lab’s head of business development, Ryan Gentry, to talk about how the company is building the ability to use stablecoins on the Lightning Network with their new Taro protocol.

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Q: I want to talk about stablecoins with you and have this conversation of: Are they necessary within the Bitcoin ecosystem and why or why not?

Ryan Gentry: It’s a great question, and it’s one that really drove our decision to focus on Taro this year.

Rewind to Bitcoin 2021 when we got news of the El Salvador bitcoin legal tender law, we got Jack Maller’s amazing presentation. That kick-started this massive wave of emerging markets’ adoption of Lightning, Lightning apps and Lightning wallets everywhere from Brazil to Argentina to El Salvador, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Vietnam, like all around the world.

I think the coolest part of my job is that I get to work with Bitcoin entrepreneurs and Bitcoin developers all around the world who are all trying to get Lightning adopted. In discussing with them all of last year as they were getting hit with tons of new signups, tons of new adoption, we were very excited.

As the year started coming to a close, we kept hearing this repeated thing from these entrepreneurs in emerging markets that was like, “OK, this has been the best year ever, huge adoption, numbers all up and to the right and I have now successfully acquired all the Bitcoiners, like in Chiang Mai, Vietnam.” Neutron Pay: “We got all the Bitcoiners. We have acquired all of ’em. They’re all using our app. It’s amazing. This is great. The next tier of users that we’re looking to acquire, they want the dollar.”

That was just something that we kept hearing from all around the world, from South America to Africa to Southeast Asia was that there’s this next group of users that we want to onboard into the Bitcoin ecosystem, but using bitcoin for everyday payments was a little too much and they really wanted to use the dollar.

Of course, being at Lightning Labs, by definition, you’re a Bitcoin Maximalist. I think everybody on the team is extremely bullish on bitcoin. We wouldn’t be building a payments protocol on top of Bitcoin if we weren’t bullish on bitcoin the asset. But we just kept hearing from these real people out in the world, trying to solve real problems and trying to grow adoption of their apps that they really need the dollar.

I think that that’s just one of those things where if we can provide the same Lightning experience, we can onboard more users to the Lightning Network, we can help out all of the startups that are pushing Bitcoin infrastructure and bringing users in and trying to educate users on why bitcoin is important, if we can give them this tool that allows them to reach the next 50,000 users, 100,000 users, million users, I think that’s an absolute win. I think that’s a huge, huge boom to the ecosystem and it’s just following user demand, which I think is really important.

One side benefit of this that I think is not discussed very much is because Taro is running on Bitcoin rails, because it requires a full Bitcoin node, because it requires a Lightning node as well, if we give the market what it wants in stablecoins, we are getting the benefit as these new companies adopt of spreading Bitcoin infrastructure and spreading Bitcoin nodes and spreading Lightning nodes and Lightning channels into all these places that maybe they wouldn’t necessarily adopt if it was just bitcoin only.

I think that’s an underappreciated point, just the spread of Bitcoin infrastructure. Because if we’re right about what bitcoin the asset is, then over time, demand for the dollar will decline anyway and this Bitcoin infrastructure will be in place for users to switch their demand from USD to BTC. I think that’s a moment that we’re all really excited for and really pushing for, but there’s just this bridge step in the middle where we gotta give the people what they want.