David Marcus is CEO & co-founder of Lightspark, a Lightning Network payments protocol. In this interview, we discuss his career in the payments industry and former role as head of Facebook’s Libra project, his frustration with the current financial system, how Lightspark is focusing on addressing the challenges of the Lightning Network, the potential impact of real-time payment systems and the scalability of Bitcoin.
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David Marcus’ journey into the payments industry began at the age of 23 when he started his first company after working at a bank. He built a successful telco company in Switzerland and later started another company focused on mobile payments. His journey took him to Silicon Valley, where his company was eventually acquired by PayPal.
Despite his success, Marcus feels frustrated with the state of payments and the lack of an open and interoperable protocol for money on the internet. He believes that money is an important aspect of people’s lives and how they measure success. He sees a lot of injustice in the current financial system and feels passionate about improving it.
Our conversation covers David’s role in heading Facebook’s involvement in the payments space, particularly with the development of Libra, a payment system designed to reach billions of people. We talked about the challenges and pushback the project faced, and how the Libra project was a significant part of Marcus’ journey in building his current company, Lightspark.
David has come to the conviction that Bitcoin is the only form of neutral internet money, which stems from his experience trying to build a technology that could scale and provide a stable form of digital money. He believes that a real-time global payment systems, similar to sending an email or text message, combined with the decentralization and liquidity of Bitcoin, can unleash a significant increase in global GDP. Scaling issues will be a major challenge as adoption increases.
Lightspark seeks to help address these limitations by focusing on the usability and operational challenges of the Lightning network, such as liquidity management and route finding. They have developed technology to simplify Lightning’s channel-based system, making it easier to spin up and maintain Lightning Network nodes, allowing for faster and cheaper bitcoin movement. There are also other potential innovations that could greatly enhance Bitcoin’s use as a payments rail.