Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve likely heard of the Lightning Network – the second layer payment protocol that speeds up Bitcoin transactions by processing them “off-chain”. The highly controversial platform was introduced as a way to deal with the scalability issues that Bitcoin faces and help to accommodate low-fees micropayments on the network. However, it has come under criticism for its centralized model and potential to tie up funds in ‘channels’ which can stay open indefinitely.

Whatever your feelings are on the Lightning Network, it’s developers continue to come up with new and quirky ways of utilizing Bitcoin for real-life causes. The most recent of these is Lightning Scratchcards, a platform developed by Guillaume Verbal that allows users to create virtual scratchcards. Users can spend tiny amounts of Bitcoin (the equivalent of a few cents) to scratch away portions of the cards and reveal hidden wallet keys, secret passwords or any other kind of text.

Verbal launched the platform with his very own scratchcard that contains the key to a Bitcoin wallet with 1,000,000 satoshis (0.01 BTC) in it (approx $40). Players can slowly reveal the key by scratching off sections of the card and once the key is fully revealed the first person to access the wallet gets the funds. This initial implementation is clearly just an example with very low winnings but it represents the potential of the platform. In a similar way to the lottery, or crypto sports betting a card maker could ensure that the staked amount is sufficiently covered by enough scratch earnings – thereby not losing any funds himself and gifting one lucky winner the jackpot. The Patreon of Bitcoin

The platform has also been touted as a way for content creators to earn income by providing stories, articles or other information that is slowly revealed by users. The collective contributions made by interested participants will help to cover the writer’s costs – in a similar way to funding platforms like Patreon. Scratchcard creators can set their own price, charging users as little as 1 Satoshi (100 millionths of a Bitcoin) to reveal single letters.

In a Twitter post announcing the app, Verbal states:

“Lightning Scratchard is a community platform that gets content writers paid in bitcoin.”

Lightning Network was in the news recently when Twitter founder Jack Dorsey promoted its ‘tippin.me’ service – an app that enables Twitter users to instantly tip each other in Bitcoin.