Lightning Labs, the development team working to grow the Lightning Network, just released the alpha version of a new protocol called Lightning Loop.
Lightning Loop is designed to give users the ability to deposit and withdraw bitcoin from their payment channels (the two-way payment gateways that allow users to send and receive funds to and from each other) without closing these channels entirely.
“Lightning channels are like tubes of money: the more you send the more you can receive, and the other way around,” according to a blog post written by Lightning Lab developers Alex Bosworth and Bryan Vu. “Money moves around in the tube, but the total amount of funds remains constant. So, unlike other payment systems, Lightning requires ‘inbound capacity’ in order to receive funds.”