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I would like to know if I can send BTC from a BTC address to a Lightning Network address.

I have BTC on an exchange and I would like to move them from the exchange to my Muun wallet. Muun allows on-chain BTC TX and Lightning Network TX, obviously I would like to use the LN address to receive the BTC.

The problem is that I don't know if transfering BTC from a BTC address to a LN address is like trying to transfer BTC to BCH where I would lose my BTC.

2 Answers 2

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That doesn't make sense. You can't send on-chain BTC to a Lightning invoice, as the former requires an on-chain transaction to move funds, while the latter is the updating of balances in a channel. They're fundamentally incompatible operations. Funds get "moved into" Lightning by using on-chain funds to construct channel, and "moved out" of Lightning by closing the channels.

Bitcoin addresses and Lightning invoices are for that reason also incompatible, and there is no risk from one being misinterpreted as the other. They use entirely different encodings, with different data in them. Both also have checksum algorithms which prevent misinterpretation.

Entering a Lightning invoice in an on-chain-only wallet will just yield an "unsupported address" error or something similar.

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  • Thanks Pieter and @chytrik. So to be clear, the requirement to do TX in LN is to have a wallet that is able to create channels with other LN wallets. This at the same time requires to have transfered some BTC funds to this wallet to be able to open the channel and stablish a balance, did I get it right?
    – javi11br
    May 18 at 16:02
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    @javi11br yes that is correct. I would recommend running a lightning node of your own, but otherwise there are many lightning wallets out there to choose from. One note: if you are not running your own node, be considerate of how the wallet you choose works under the hood. Different lightning wallets can come with different levels of custodianship/trust for your funds.
    – chytrik
    May 18 at 20:07
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To expand on Pieter's answer a bit:

To move your funds onto the lightning network, you will need to send a bitcoin transaction to move your funds into a wallet that allows the creation of lightning network channels. The transaction to move your funds into the new wallet will pay to a bitcoin address as usual (likely a bech32 encoded address).

The lightning wallet will then allow you to 'open a channel' with another node on the lightning network. Under the hood, this means that your lightning wallet will create a specialized 2-of-2 multisig bitcoin address, in collaboration with the counterparty node. Funds will then be sent to this address, and along with a little bit of extra under-the-hood magic, your wallet will now contain funds which can be used to pay invoices on the lightning network.

As Pieter mentione, bitcoin addresses and lightning invoices are very different, so there is never any worry that you will make a mistake and lose funds by trying to pay a lightning invoice with on-chain funds, etc.

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