On January 31st 2019, the Twitter account of Casa has promised two new exciting announcements. The first one turned out to be about the open sourcing of the node software, which allows anyone to build their own Casa Node with a Raspberry Pi. It’s really good news for Lightning enthusiasts who may not afford the $300 price tag or find the shipping conditions too complicated, and Crypto Insider has covered the story briefly after the announcement blog post had been published.
The second round of good news, which had to be postponed to build some momentum, came only a few minutes before work started on this article, in the morning of February 1st 2019. The surprise launch is about Casa’s own browser extension for quick Lightning payments, which provides the missing link between the node’s user-friendly point-and-click interface and online accessibility on Lightning-friendly websites.
As it’s acknowledged, the extension software initially though as a collaboration between Casa’s engineers and Will O’Beirne, who by the fall of 2018 had already developed the mighty Joule for quick Lightning payments. As you might know, Joule is available for all major browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Brave) and can be installed for free to make one-click Lightning transactions.
Due to a difference of philosophy and approach to software, both Will O’Beirne and Casa have decided to develop their software separately and provide all the features and ease of use in a competitive way. And now that the Node has been updated to enable browser extensions, the developing company also intends to work towards a seamless Joule implementation for their hardware.
Why does this browser extension matter at all for Lightning Payments?
In a nutshell, the answer is simple: if you own a Casa Node, then you can synchronize the extension in a matter of seconds and make secure payments on every website which allows it. For instance, you can show off your artistic side by drawing on Satoshi’s Place. You can also get the “I got Lightning working” sticker on the Blockstream store, or acquire a Casa sticker for your newly-built custom-made Raspberry Pi-powered node. If you’re feeling generous, you can also tip somebody and show some appreciation via Tippin.me micro-transactions. And if you want to make more substantial payments, there is always the option to acquire some gift cards on Bitrefill.
There are lots of ways to make Lightning transactions, and this is only the beginning. The more people discover the potential of the Lightning Network, the greater the extent of the merchant adoption. Soon enough, we might be seeing shops acquiring a Casa Node, opening Lightning channels, and starting to accept satoshis for their products.
The idea behind the browser extension is to integrate the Node in a seamless and instant way. If Joule requires some effort on your behalf since it’s not yet compatible with the Casa hardware, this new browser extension is designed to function just like Apple’s Airdrop experience. And unlike Joule, the Casa software offers an extra layer of security thanks to the automatic synchronization with the user’s macaroon files. The data never leaves the node, doesn’t get stored on your computer, and therefore the user isn’t under the risk of having his funds stolen by savvy hackers.
At press time, Casa’s Lightning extension is only available on the Google Chrome browser – but hopefully, it will catch up with Joule and offer support for Firefox, Opera, Brave, and even Safari.