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I know this question has been asked a lot. However I am not able to grasp the correct approach to address this.

Let me give you the context: I spun up an LND node to start experimenting and understanding the capabilities of this spectacular technology. Put $100 worth of sats in the node and spread it across 4 channels and I was also lucky to have another 5 channels open with me - so I have some outgoing capacity from the channels I have opened and also some inbound capacity from the channels others opened to me. The channels are unbalanced meaning that, for the channels I opened remote balance is 0 and for the channels others opened to me local balance is 0. I know that channels should be balanced to be able to perform routing in both directions in every channel but thought since others have also opened channels to me, I could still route some transactions. Is this a valid assumption?

Base fee is set to 0 and my fee rate is 0.000001 which I believe is cheap to incentivize some routing. For 4 months now fwdinghistory returns nothing. I thought that with this setup I could easily route just a cup of coffee but it seems we are not there yet.

What can I do to reach the point where I actually perform some routing? I don't want to commit more capital to the node until I am confident of what I am doing and how things work. Again the rational behind is that 100$ should suffice to route some coffee buys. I understand that the first thing to do is to try to provide liquidity where liquidity is needed but I simply don't understand how to identify where liquidity is needed.

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  • 1
    Look for merchants who accept lightning for payments and open channels with them.
    – Mark H
    Sep 9, 2021 at 8:36
  • How ?! Is there a methodology like analyzing the graph and the IPs to understand who is a merchant?
    – jayt.dev
    Sep 9, 2021 at 12:56
  • 3
    One way would be to buy something from the merchant. The invoice they provide you will contain their node id (or it can be recovered from the signature of the invoice).
    – Mark H
    Sep 9, 2021 at 21:26
  • Some merchant stores will also label their node with an Alias, or have a site online to allow you to open channels with them. see: ln.river.com Oct 4, 2021 at 8:36

1 Answer 1

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If I was trying to solve for the largest number of transactions routed I would be very intentional with which nodes I open channels. Here is a methodology that you could try starting with a fresh node with only $100 in sats in capital and 0 channels opened.

  1. Choose a consumer facing (custodial) wallet that you have an account with (Wallet of Satoshi, Muun, Kraken, Cash App, etc).

  2. Open a channel to them with the full $100.

  3. Push that full balance to their side of the channel by paying yourself to your account from your node (this could potentially link your node to your IRL identity).

  4. Wait for a new exciting lightning service to go viral on twitter or another internet forum. (this service will likely need inbound liquidity)

  5. Use the $100 balance in your custodial wallet to open a channel to this service's lightning node

    • You can find their node id by inspecting an invoice.
  6. Wait for funds to flow from [popular wallet] -> [you] -> [new viral service].

    • It might be advisable to set a low fee at first, as LND biases routes along previously successful routes (although i'm not quite sure if this bias is reset when changing channel fees).

To make a profit from this scheme you'd have to make more money charging routing fees from the source (where funds are coming from) to the sink (where funds are going) than you pay in fees getting this capital online (onchain fees, ln fees, wallet service fees).


This is a very naive scheme which will likely only work for a short duration if at all but should get you started thinking about how to provide routing liquidity to the network.

The main take away should be, "How can I get better at putting my channels between sinks & sources?"

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