Although crypto transactions have a reputation for being expensive and unwieldy, different solutions have emerged in recent years to facilitate the technology as an actual payment service. A leading example is the Lightning Network, a decentralized layer-2 protocol built on top of Bitcoin that promises fast and cheap transactions.
Still, as developers seek to convince enterprise clients that Lightning can serve as an alternative to traditional payment rails such as Visa and Mastercard, they must first guarantee that payment processing is reliable, meaning that every transaction is settled.
Amboss Technologies, an Oregon-based crypto firm focused on Lightning, announced today that it has raised $4 million in seed funding to provide data analytics to service providers who maintain the network. The round was led by Bitcoin-native venture firm Stillmark and includes participation from Valor Equity Partners, Draper Associates, Fulgur Ventures, and Ride Wave Ventures.
“It’s an incredibly important company for the maturation of the Lightning Network,” Alyse Killeen, managing partner of Stillmark, told Fortune in an interview. “It absolutely accelerates the adoption of Lightning Network by allowing enterprise to participate.”
The Bitcoin white paper, authored by the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto, created the field of cryptocurrency in 2008. Despite its first-mover advantage in the space, Bitcoin has long suffered as an actual payment method because of costly fees and transaction limits.
When developers first envisioned the Lightning Network in 2015 and began to implement it the following year, it quickly gained champions as a way for Bitcoin to speed up transaction times and operate as a payment infrastructure.
Prominent entrepreneurs have embraced Lightning as a method for cross-border payments—remittances in particular—including Block’s Jack Dorsey. Strike has emerged as one of the leading companies in the Lightning space, with the digital-wallet firm raising $80 million in September 2022 and expanding its cross-border payment feature to countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, and the Philippines.
Despite the growing prevalence of the technology, Amboss’s seed round signals that infrastructure development is still necessary for the nascent field. Building off a popular open-source tool called ThunderHub, Amboss serves as a professionalized version of the platform, allowing the underlying service providers on the Lightning Network to deduce the most efficient paths for routing payments.
Killeen described Amboss as the “Waze” of the Lightning space, with node operators able to deduce the best ways to process transactions and earn yields in return. Over 30% of nodes on Lightning Network use Amboss, including nodes operated by Kraken and TBD, a Lightning-focused subsidiary of Block.
With the growing efficiency supported by Amboss, Killeen said that more enterprise solutions—such as remittance companies—will turn to the Lightning Network, thanks to its lower fees compared with other platforms such as Western Union.
“People all over the world generally won’t have any incentive to continue using closed networks,” said Vikash Singh, a principal investor at Stillmark. He added the funding will go toward bolstering product development at Amboss, including in the A.I. and machine learning space.
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