Lightning is a protocol that allows for near-instant, high-volume payments on the Bitcoin network. It is a “second layer” solution that runs on top of the Bitcoin blockchain, and it is designed to enable millions of transactions per second.
In order to use Lightning, you need to have a Lightning-compatible wallet. There are several wallets available that support Lightning, including Eclair, c-lightning, and lnd.
Once you have a compatible wallet, you can open a Lightning channel with another person or organization.
Lightning channels are two-way payment channels that allow for fast, cheap, and private transactions between two parties. In order to open a channel, both parties need to put some amount of Bitcoin into the channel.
This “locked up” Bitcoin can then be used to make as many transactions as desired.
Once both parties have finished using the channel, they can close it and each receive their “locked up” Bitcoin back. All of the transactions that occurred while the channel was open are then recorded on the Bitcoin blockchain.
Lightning is still in its early stages of development and it is not yet ready for mainstream use. However, it has the potential to greatly improve the scalability of the Bitcoin network and make it possible for millions of transactions per second.