Introducing the Alby Wallet API - a new way to power any app with Bitcoin
The API enables marketplaces, merchants, businesses, developers, and more, to offer instant, inexpensive, global payments to anyone, at any time.
Getting paid and paying someone online needs to be easy. Whether it’s people paying one another, an app rewarding its users, or even an app sending a payment to another app. Information flows seamlessly and instantly on the web, and so should money.
At Alby, our mission is to make payments seamless, smarter and accessible for everyone. Our API enables marketplaces, merchants, businesses, developers, and more, to offer instant, inexpensive, global payments to anyone, at any time — improving financial access and enhancing financial experiences for everyone.
Powering apps with Bitcoin
Building apps is a challenging endeavor for every developer. Adding native payment functionalities for a global user base adds another level of complexity. Today, many apps that provide Bitcoin Lightning wallets are custodians of their users’ funds and need to integrate full Lightning wallet accounts into their applications. This means that users have accounts and funds on each application they are using. Each of these accounts also needs to be topped up and managed. This greatly increases developer complexity and is a much bigger barrier of adoption for the user.
We envision a world where all the applications integrate money/value streams allowing ways of monetization that have been unthinkable so far. For that, it is essential that apps can connect to users’ existing accounts and that users can reuse their existing Lightning accounts.
So far the Alby Browser Extension allows exactly this for web applications. Based on the Web Bitcoin/Lightning Standard (WebBTC/WebLN) web applications can interact with the user's Lightning wallets/accounts through the Alby extension.
Today we take this bring-your-own account approach one step further by releasing the Alby wallet API for mobile and server applications. Based on the widely adopted OAuth2 standard we allow users to connect their accounts to the apps they love. The Alby wallet API allows app developers to request permissions to users’ wallets and connect their apps to the global payment network. This now allows mobile or server applications to integrate Lightning functionality through the user's connected Alby wallet.
The Alby wallet API is a standardized integration for instantly moving money between any online applications and their users. Implementing this one API means connecting to a global payment network that is accessible to any customer or merchant. Developers can link any in-app action to a payment flow that enables their users to send, receive and store money. Completely new app mechanics and interactions are possible on Lightning rails.
Our API is built to abstract the complexities that come with real-time bitcoin transfers, making it intuitive for app developers to integrate Bitcoin for their respective purposes. There is no need to hire a Bitcoin engineer, manage nodes, or worry about anything blockchain-related. As a developer, you handle the app, and we handle the transactions.
Powering several apps with one Bitcoin wallet
Today, users typically need to top up separate wallets on each apps or suffer navigating a cumbersome flow that involves scanning QR codes and entering complex payment information for every in-app transaction. Conversely, withdrawing leftover funds from a wallet is, either, not possible, or requires submitting a Lightning invoice. We believe that we need to move to a "Send" / "Receive" UX, rather than the "Deposit" / "Withdraw" model that many Lightning apps currently implement.
To achieve the best payment experience, we need interoperable systems that follow standards already familiar to app developers and users. Similar to “Sign in with Google”, Alby's wallet API lets you connect your wallet in a standardized way. Connect once, and transact seamlessly.
One interoperable Bitcoin wallet
The magic of this new integration is that it’s based on the widely-used OAuth2 standard (meaning "Open Authorization''). Using this specification, users can grant different apps access to perform certain actions on their behalf. This is commonly used to enable apps to share information, such as a user’s email address. But in this case, we’re using it to send and receive value.
Now, as a user, you can simply connect your Alby wallet account to any app that supports the integration, grant the app the necessary permissions, and enjoy the seamless movement of money. No scanning of QR codes, no entering complex payment information, and no management of multiple wallets across multiple apps. Most importantly, the connection allows the app to pay you, enabling a seamless bi-directional payment flow.
Try the Alby Wallet API
The API is up and running and the first applications have integrated it. Two major players to mention here are RSS.com and Podverse.
As a podcaster, you can host your podcast on RSS.com; a leading podcasting platform that manages the hosting, distribution and monetization of podcasts. This integration makes RSS.com interoperable with the Value for Value podcasting specification, enabling all their users to start receiving bitcoin quickly and easily.
As a podcast listener, you can use Podverse, a cross-platform podcast player available on iOS, Android, F-Droid, and the web. You simply give the Podverse app permission to make payments from your Alby account, and you are ready to stream sats from your main Alby wallet to your favourite podcasters.
If you’re a developer with an interest in integrating the Alby wallet API into your app, or you just have an idea for how to implement it, read the documentation and get in touch with our team.