Decipher the lightning payment request

Making a lightning payment is very simple: you receive a series from the receiving party that represents a payment request, paste it into your lightning wallet and press pay. A child can do the laundry. But what does this sequence mean?

Human readable

At first glance, the lightning payment request looks like a long mess of letters and numbers. “Computer language”, not readable by humans. Interesting to know is that part of this series is readable for humans, also called human-readable . Take, for example, the following payment request:

lnbc5560n1pdde9xypp5upfnu7lcw6sy …

Much of this is, indeed, not human readable. However, the first number of letters and numbers can be deciphered. The series that represents the payment request is designed in such a way that it can be seen from the series that it is 1) a lightning payment, 2) whether it is a bitcoin payment and 3) the amount of bitcoins requested in the payment request. This can be seen from the first few letters and numbers of the sequence.

lnbc5560n1pdde9xypp5upfnu7lcw6sy …

  • The first two letters, ln, indicate that this is a payment request for a lightning payment.
  • The letters bc indicate that it is a bitcoin payment on the main live bitcoin network. Here tb can also be used to indicate that it is a testnet payment.
  • The numbers 5560 indicate how much has to be paid and depend on the multiplier that follows.
  • The letter n is the multiplier by which the amount to be paid must be multiplied.
    • The multiplier can be m for milli ; multiply by 0.001, u for micro ; multiply by 0.000001, n for nano ; multiply by 0.000000001 and p for pico ; multiply by 0.000000000001.

In this case, it concerns a lightning payment for 556 satoshi (5560 x 0.000000001) on the main bitcoin network. In the future, when multiple cryptocurrencies may use lightning, it can be useful to be able to recognize what kind of payment is being made.

So, learned something again.

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