On September 7, 2021, the small Central American country of El Salvador surprised the world once again. This is because El Salvador announced that fast-food restaurant chain McDonald’s officially starts accepting Bitcoin (BTC) as a means of payment for orders. This means that President Nayiba Bukele’s dream of introducing Bitcoin as a legal means of payment is slowly starting to come into reality.
How does McDonald’s accept Bitcoin?
As you read this article, you’re surely wondering what principle Bitcoin payments work on. Bitcoin is a virtual token, so after all, you wouldn’t pull it out of your wallet to pay for your Big Mac. Here’s what Aaron van Wirdum, a journalist working for Bitcoin Magazine, has experienced with BTC payments at McDonald’s. He described them with the following tweet:
“I just walked into McDonald’s in San Salvador to see if I could pay for breakfast with BTC. To be honest, I expected not to. But contrary to my assumption, McDonald’s printed a ticket with a QR code that took me to a website with an invoice from Lightning Network, and now I’m enjoying my traditional desayuno!”
What exactly is Aaron van Wirdum talking about, and what is Lightning Network? About that in the next paragraph.
Lightning Network is essentially an “overlay” on the Bitcoin blockchain (and beyond) that allows you to perform fast transactions using cryptocurrencies. Lightning Network is a second-layer payment protocol that uses a P2P system to execute micropayments over two-way payment channels.
Working with OpenNode, McDonald’s has enabled payments with BTC specifically using Lightning Network. These payments are available at all 19 McDonald’s locations nationwide, as well as online and through the mobile app.
A breakthrough in the use of Bitcoin in everyday life
El Salvador is a “testing ground” of sorts, as it is the first country in the world to attempt to bring Bitcoin into everyday use. The step McDonald’s has taken is certainly a risky one, however, it could prove to be a global success. One thing is certain: the introduction of BTC payments is a great opportunity to demonstrate the power of the Lightning Network in everyday life. It is also a significant milestone in the development of the bitcoin economy, which could show the world that using BTC for everyday purchases is perfectly feasible.