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Blogs & Articles: Volt Is Bringing Bitcoin to Africa with the Breez SDK đź”— 8 days ago

Breez Technology - Medium

How many true mavericks have you encountered? Could you even tell? Could you feel the potential radiating off them? Was it obvious?

When you talk to Abubakar Nur Khalil, it is obvious. You feel it. He got into bitcoin after graduating from high school in 2016. He spent a year teaching himself the mechanics of bitcoin down to the code, and he started contributing to Bitcoin Core in 2019. To help smooth funding cycles, he founded Recursive Capital in 2020, his own Africa-focused Bitcoin VC. He’s grown tired of struggling with broken and fragmented payment rails in Africa and his native Nigeria, so he’s building Volt Wallet to make bitcoin work better for him and 1.5 billion other Africans.

Abubakar is out to improve Africa’s money, Africa’s many diverse societies, and the freedoms and rights of Africa’s people. Volt Wallet is his vehicle, and its engine is the Breez SDK.

Volt Wallet

The idea for Volt Wallet emerged from a conversation Abubakar had with Alex Gladstein, back in 2021. Abubakar realized that he had the skills and resources to take action on the issues that Alex’s Human Rights Foundation talks about, like freedom and, of course, human rights, which won Abubakar a grant from HRF that year to begin work on Volt. If Africa’s money impedes freedom and autonomy, and Bitcoin promotes freedom and autonomy, Africa needs a multi-purpose Bitcoin tool.

Bitcoin can answer many challenges Africa faces: it can incentivize better electricity grids, inhibit corruption and provide a common language to overcome fragmented payment rails. As a borderless, permissionless currency, it lets Africans participate in the global financial and monetary systems whether or not local banks want to grant them accounts, empowering the growing generation of bitcoin-banked Africans.

The catch, as ever, is the bitcoin UX. How can bitcoin meet African needs? Many Africans are not n00bs; they’re eager power users, and they need professional-grade tools, not a toy. Their particular circumstances give them an even greater incentive than most of us to use bitcoin for everything. It’s not a niche investment they check once in a while or a hobby that fascinates them without being strictly necessary. Building a circular bitcoin economy in Africa is as important as building roads and fiber-optic networks.

So Abubakar is building Volt Wallet to be the app that does everything they need with bitcoin: fiat on and off-ramps, Lightning payments and on-chain interoperability. AND it has to avoid custody and KYC so that bitcoin’s benefits aren’t captured or compromised by domestic or foreign officials. AND it needs an intuitive, clean, reliable UX.

Thinking perhaps more like an artist than a developer, Abubakar even wants the Volt UX to reflect certain aspects of bitcoin’s network architecture. It’s like when oenophiles talk about terroir, when you can taste the earthiness of the soil and the brightness of the sunshine right in the glass. I guess using Volt should just feel like decentralization and freedom.

Volt Empowers Africa. The Breez SDK Empowers Volt

As we well know, a vision is a long way from a solution. Abubakar was looking for a solution that would help him realize his vision. And what he found, what inspired him, was the Breez SDK.

“I fell in love with using Volt with the Breez SDK.” Those are his words. Volt’s secret formula to obfuscate UX challenges like channel and liquidity management is that the SDK pre-obfuscates them by automatically managing liquidity and connectivity. The secret formula to delivering reliable, intuitive, self-custodial functionality is the same: Volt users never relinquish their keys because the Breez SDK never requires them, and Volt can deliver all the functions users need because they’re already included in the SDK.

How do you find all those functions? In a word — Abubakar’s word — “Easily.” Abubakar appreciates that they’re all intuitively named, they’re right where he expected to find them, and they work as advertised. If something doesn’t work — whether the bug is cognitive or technical — there’s plenty of help. He cited the clear, extensive documentation and the quick responses by experts who know the SDK inside and out. Echoing what we’ve heard before, Abubakar said that the SDK is almost self-explanatory to anyone who’s taken the effort to understand Lightning.

How easy is it? We asked, and he said “It’s so easy that I was able to code Volt’s core functions in about a day.” And the modular architecture means that devs can add and experiment with the most advanced functions without affecting basic functionality.

Breez’s rollout support has also helped to make sure that Volt fits its market today and continues to fit that market as it grows. Abubakar can choose the LSP that best serves his users, and we’re happy to connect him with the right LSP for different scales and markets. And the entire stack — from the Bitcoin mainnet to Lightning to the Breez SDK to Volt — is FOSS through and through because neither we nor our users would have it any other way. The SDK works out of the box, the box is transparent, the instructions on the box are clear, and it’s always the right size, growing with each app.

A Whole World beyond Walled Gardens

Like us, Abubakar likes to compare Lightning with the internet to see what our experience with the latter can tell us about the probable development of the former. He notes that somewhere around 15–20 years ago, the internet diverged from its own ideals, transforming from a relatively decentralized, grassroots network into a realm of borders and barriers patrolled by huge, hierarchical corporations.

Stealing the words from my mouth, Abubakar says that the trajectory of the internet no longer resembles the trajectory of bitcoin. Bitcoin can’t be closed. It corrodes walls. The only boundaries that matter are technical (what have we yet to build?) and epistemic (what have we yet to understand?), not institutional or political.

That’s why Africa needs Volt. That’s why Abubakar is building it. That’s why he’s building it with the Breez SDK.

Volt Is Bringing Bitcoin to Africa with the Breez SDK was originally published in Breez Technology on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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