Alby is an exciting project that allows us to easily interact with lightning on the web. Moritz from the team joins me to talk about:
- How Alby started
- Influence from joule
- Lighting paywall plugin for WordPress
- Interoperability using lightning
- Lightning address, LNURL, WebLN
- Privacy and security
- Site: GetAlby.com
- Twitter: @getAlby
- Telegram group: https://t.me/getAlby
- Telegram: https://t.me/MoritzKam
- Alby API blog post: Introducing the Alby Wallet API – a new way to power any app with Bitcoin
Stephan Livera links:
Stephan Livera – 00:00:08:
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Now for episode 412. My guess today is Moritz from the Get Alby team or the Alby project. Now most of you might know this as a browser extension, but they’ve also got a range of other products that we talk about here. But essentially this is a really cool project that allows us to easily interact with Lightning on the web. Now, those of you who’ve been around in the space, you might recall an earlier project called Joule. So in a sense, this project, Alby, is drawing a lot of inspiration from that and using some of the newer standards and everything that allow us interoperability. So I’m really excited about what’s happening in this space. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this episode with Moritz. Moritz, welcome to the show.
Moritz – 00:03:34:
Stephan Livera – 00:03:36:
So I know you’re working on Alby and I’ve been playing around with Alby. I think it’s really cool and I wanted more people to hear about the story of Alby and a little bit about the project. So firstly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself just for listeners who don’t know you?
Moritz – 00:03:51:
Yeah, sure. So I’m working on Alby, doing more like the project management side because I have more like a business background. I personally discovered Bitcoin back in 2013 when I wrote my master’s thesis about bitcoin mining and project evaluation using different options and decision tree models. Then I joined a venture capital fund, but I really realized that somehow they do not really invest in bitcoin companies. So I joined a spin off. We were exploring different use cases for bitcoin. For example, how to pay a loan mower using Lightning per square meter of grass cut. That was in 2019. And that’s also the time when I got more and more into Lightning. I, for example, reached out to Fulgur Ventures because I thought that they do such a great job in supporting the whole Lightning ecosystem. I then joined Oleg on a more part time basis, doing some writing some research reports, but also ended up in the Arcane research report because I built up a database of Lightning projects. And that’s also how I came across Alby.
Stephan Livera – 00:05:04:
Basically got you and so you came across it. So that means someone had already started this project. I presume that’s the developer.
Moritz – 00:05:13:
Yeah, it’s Bumi or his real name is Michael. He was, I think as many of us probably always super fascinated about how we can create these native payments on the Internet. Right. So he has a developer background, worked on different payment apps before, and then he also started contributing to Joule, an early browser extension for the Lightning Network. uAnd then after its project stopped yeah, he initiated the work on Alby. That was end of 2020 in a really like community set up in one of these Lightning hack sprints back then.
Stephan Livera – 00:06:01:
Right, that’s interesting as well, because I recall in the earlier days of Lightning going mainnet, Joule was very much like a predecessor to Alby, and I remember playing around with it. And at that time, people were using Joule as their little in browser Lightning wallet and they would do things like connected to their Lightning node. And so people had like a Casa node or other things like this. And it was very much like a predecessor to Alby’s functionality. So I definitely saw a strong inspiration between the two when I was playing around with Alby and I’ve been using it myself. But do you want to just tell us a little bit about the reason behind making Alby? Why make this?
Moritz – 00:06:38:
Yeah, I mean, I totally agree. I’ll be heavily inspired by Jule conceptional wise, especially because I think we did a great job here, like building this browser extension. But at some point here, the development was stopped, although some updates had to be deployed to keep it in the Firefox stores. And the idea of Joule, some of them keeps living on an Alby, and we can talk about that later on, but some parts we thought, okay, look, this is something, maybe there are more specialized tools with that. So Jule was always also used for node management, but today we have all the specialized tool for node management. So there’s a difference there. And with Joule, you could only add your Lightning wallet that runs on LND as compared to other Node applications or other wallets out there. And also here gives you a bit more flexibility, of course.
Stephan Livera – 00:07:48:
And so what we’re talking about here is the ability to have our Bitcoin node and our Lightning node and then connect a browser extension. And that’s essentially what Alby is. That allows us to spend our Bitcoin over the Lightning Network or even to receive. And one thing that I find really interesting is that there’s all these different ways of interoperability or methods of having interoperability. We have things like Lightning addresses, we have things like QR codes, we have things like WebLN, and we’re going to get into all of these things. So I guess just high level in terms of Alby right now. What are the supported Lightning implementations? Is it LND only or is there support for others coming?
Moritz – 00:08:32:
Yes, so there are a bunch of already supported and also want to support more on that because in our opinion, the Alby browser extension is the portal for you to the world of Lightning apps. Right. And we do not want to restrict our users to just use one specific wallet or one specific implementation. So you as a user, you can choose several. And if we talk about really the low level of Lightning, the different Lightning implementations. What right. Right now we have LND, we also have Eclair, and we are currently working on a connector to Core Lightning that is on our roadmap. And it should be possible also because now there’s a native plug in available with Commando for RPC commands. So this is one thing, I think, and also LDK is super interesting, for example, to have a native node in your browser connected to the Alby browser extension, for example. But often the problem is a bit here that all requires still a lot of engineering work to get these things working in a browser. So it would be awesome if we can sort of like team up with an expert from LDK or Core Lightning to get this going and to get it out into the hands of users, actually.
Stephan Livera – 00:10:00:
Right. And so for users who are just following along, there are different Lightning implementations. The most popular one today is LND Lightning Network Daemon by Lightning Labs. But some other popular ones are Eclair. Another one is Core Lightning, or previously known as c-lightning by the blockchain team and then LDK by the Spiral bitcoin team. And so I guess what we’re talking about here is Alby is an easy way for consumers to just use that Lightning wallet and experience Lightning on the web. And so I think that’s a really cool thing that Lightning is now enabling. And that’s part of this vision that people have been talking about for so long. But now with Lightning, we have some of the technology and we have some of the ways to interconnect and make all of these things actually work in a way that’s actually the experience is becoming better, better and and better over time. I’m sure if you went back years ago, it was a lot harder and it was just a far different experience. Whereas now I think the experience that’s enabled with things like Alby browser extensions is people can have that more seamless experience. So the idea is you’re browsing and then you may come across a pay wall and it may be 500 sats or whatever, and you can pay that without having to pull out your phone and scan the QR, as most of us are used to in the Lightning world. So do you want to just talk a little bit about what that experience is from a user experience? Like, what is the user experience of using Alby?
Moritz – 00:11:25:
I think this is a super critical point, especially when we talk to people who are not too tech savvy, not too much into Lightning. Then it all starts with the onboarding that we have to get right. Some people definitely, for example, want to connect their existing Lightning nodes that run at home. But the majority of people certainly don’t have a wallet yet, or maybe they have just a mobile wallet. So we also want to take care of these. You can connect your Raspberries, your Umbrel, your custodial mobile, Lightning Wallet, for example, BlueWallet, Bitcoin Beach, or especially for the people who do not yet have a Lightning wallet. You can also create a be Lightning wallet through the extension and start playing around with Alby on different websites. And what you can basically do is bunch of things you can pay, you can receive, you can log in to websites and interact with different applications on the web.
Stephan Livera – 00:12:34:
Right? And so there’s all kinds of functionality. So one is this idea of LNURL off, so that stands for authentication. And so the idea is just for listeners. Obviously you understand this, but the idea is that you can log into different online services. So there are different ones out there. I know one, there’s a few examples, LNMarkets, so that is like a bitcoin trading site, but you can log in and out using LNAuth. Another example is StackerNews. So StackerNews. You can log in with LN-URL AUth. And so this is something that I’ll be supports. So do you want to just talk a little bit about this idea of authentication using our browser extension or really our Lightning node?
Moritz – 00:13:12:
Yeah. So with Alby, we really want to make the interaction with web apps as seamless as possible. And that’s why you can also use the Alby extension to authenticate on web apps. Right. And it doesn’t matter if there will be wallet that you connected, as long as supported by the connected wallet, then you can do that and you can log in with one click. You can log out with one click, basically. And this is like yeah, I think a big benefit compared to before because you don’t need a password and remember a password to log in. And I’m super curious in exploring how we can actually bring this to a wider audience and usage also for other apps, not just for Lightning through the existing apps.
Stephan Livera – 00:14:11:
I see. And so I think the other really interesting paradigm here is we’re starting to see more and more interconnection and we’re seeing ways that these different Lightning wallets and applications can connect and work together. So historically, people might have had to have a different Lightning Wallet or a different app for different purposes, whereas now I think it’s shifting the paradigm now where you might have one Lightning wallet that you can interact with different apps. And I think there was a blog post you had as well which spelled some of this out. And I think it’s an interesting way for people to understand the way Bitcoin and Lightning is shifting and the way it’s going to become more accessible. So do you want to talk a little bit about that interoperability, that concept of having one wallet, but multiple apps?
Moritz – 00:14:57:
Yeah. So this is all based on an already open and global payment network, like the Lightning Network. And this is such a big improvement compared to today’s payment rates that we see, for example, with PayPal, where you can only interact with people who have PayPal. But on Lightning, you can interact with people who have Breez, you can interact with people who have Bitfinex, for example, because they all run on the same payment protocol. And this is awesome. And now what we came out recently with the Alby API, and the idea behind that is really we want to make payments accessible for everyone. And that’s why we need these easy to use building blocks, such as an API for developers so that they can create apps with this seamless payment experience. And today, the problem is often, I don’t know, like, how many apps do you have where you have sats on, or how many accounts do you have where you deposited some sats? At least I have several of them. Right. And at some point, you probably don’t have an overview about that anymore. And wouldn’t it be, like, just nice if you can just have one wallet that is sort of interoperable with different applications out there and you can connect it? So what we thought, okay, the goal of this API is really to solve exactly this, that we need to move away from this send and receive user experience, or to move actually to this send and receive user experience and away from this deposit and withdraw model that many Lightning apps currently implement. And also, on the other side, make it easier for developers at the same time to include Lightning and bitcoin payment functionalities into the app. So it’s definitely a bit of a paradigm shift that we want to achieve here. But I think this improves greatly the user experience.
Stephan Livera – 00:17:06:
I see. So, as an example, instead of having an account where you deposit and withdrawal, you might be referring to this idea that you can stream sats or you can just continuously stream a small amount of sats depending on what you’re doing, depending on what the use cases. And I notice that also in the app is also in the extension in Alby. I noticed on some websites in general, it gives you that option of, hey, do you want to just set a budget and then just let the website automatically pull from your wallet up to a certain level? So I’m curious, what’s the reasoning behind that idea?
Moritz – 00:17:40:
Yeah, so it’s a bit like we have to differentiate here a bit, because there’s the wallet API that you can be used to include Lightning functionality into a mobile app, into a Web app, and then there’s also WebLB that serves actually a similar purpose. But this is more for the interface between the Alby extension and the Web app. But on a very high level, the functionalities are very similar because what you can do is you can connect your app easily to this application, either through this API from Alby or through WebLN. Right. And for example, for this API, how this works is basically you can now bring yourAlby wallet to another Lightning app. So it becomes basically a multi purpose wallet suddenly and the app that you want to connect to ask you if you want to add your Alby wallet account like similar to login via Facebook for example, and Yen. And then you can connect your wallet to that app and it’s all based on the OAuth protocol. So it’s an open standard in the industry and this also ensures interoperability and with also a minor lock in effect for web apps at the same time they don’t have to take care of node management. Account management of users because this is basically outsourced to Alby in this case. Because the user now has a wallet that is like yeah. I can bring my own wallet to any other app. And regarding the allowances or the budgets feature that you just mentioned, this is one feature that is also particularly available in the album browser extension. And combined with WebLN, basically you can really achieve these one click payments compared to rather cumbersome payments when you have to look for your credit card details, for example, or you have to look for your smartphone to scan like QR code, initiate payments and so on. But with these one click payments and the potential here is huge, right? You can also, for example, just like scroll through a website and per scroll what you do, you can initiate a payment either like send a payment or just receive a payment, or you can also do a time based and this just works because with WebLN, just a different set of connections basically between a web app and a wallet. You can have these programmatic interactions suddenly.
Stephan Livera – 00:20:21:
I see. And so it enables this whole new possibility around people monetizing online because now it’s really smooth and slick and so as Bitcoin is know, bitcoin is open network, anybody can join it. You can just earn satoshi’s online for doing things. And then now this idea is that we have a connected wallet that really smooths the interface online. So it makes it really simple to send and receive without having to pull out a phone wallet or log into things. You just have an Alby extension and what you could do, I mean, depending on how you manage things, but you might have a smaller amount that you have just in your Alby wallet and you’re using that for this back and forth spending. And I think it’s really interesting, perhaps underrated people don’t really understand this part yet because it is just that early in terms of Bitcoin and Lightning adoption. And so I’m excited for this. I think it’s really cool that we can connect up our wallet and even link to our own node. So for example, I can link my own BTCPay and let’s say I earn in on that and then I want to browse on the Internet. And then using Alby and WebLN and the different websites I’m browsing, I can pay for things, I can buy things straight away. And so I think it’s a great demonstration for people of just how powerful Lightning can be and how the overall ecosystem is being built out. And I think it’s really cool because it’s in a very open source, open ethos kind of manner. So that’s really cool. I think those are some of the main things that I’m excited about. So with Alby, what’s the structure of this? Is it just a FOSS project right now, or is it a company or what are you thinking? What is it?
Moritz – 00:22:00:
So the album browser extension that is open source, it’s very community driven project. We are part of the Bitcoin design community. We have a Slack channel there. We have biweekly community calls where people come together, tell what they’ve done, we showcase things there, talk about our plans. But it’s also the case that there’s an official organization behind I’ll be in the meantime, because in order to operate in a sustainable way, you also need to contribute back to the community. Right. You cannot always take from them, but you also need to give them something back. So we need also need to see how we can create value with Alby that is then like coordinated with this organization and distributed back to its contributors. So it’s really like both sides.
Stephan Livera – 00:22:56:
Got you. Yeah. And so, of course, I’m sure many listeners are thinking also, hey, what about privacy and security ramifications? So let’s get into some of those aspects. Also. I know, let’s start with security. So obviously there are a lot of browser hacks and browser things going on. I’m curious what can be done about that in terms of this extension being able to control your wallet? Do you have any thoughts for listeners out there on the security of the use of browser extension to control our Lightning Node or Lightning wallets?
Moritz – 00:23:30:
I think it’s important to understand here that the browser extension itself is a fully clientside application if you connect it to your own Lightning wallet. So we know that it’s a tricky topic. That’s also why we, for example, right now, we make sure that it comes without any tracking software. That is important and there is no connection to any, like, I’ll be organization or whatever organization in the back if you use it with your own Lightning Wallet. So hence there is no data exchange with us. And what you only have to do here, in this case, you only trust the software with your data. Right? And also that’s also the reason why I’ll be open source, to give people the chance to review the code, for example. But there’s certainly always some trust involved in the trust model, I would say is actually very comparable to your mobile wallet, for example, or to your app that you connect to your remote Lightning node or the node software itself. You always have to trust something and give access to some very valuable data and this is the same also with the Alby extension and all of these like the mobile wallets also they all have access to wallet credentials.
Stephan Livera – 00:24:56:
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And now back to the show with Moritz, of course. Right. And so I guess the answer then from a privacy perspective is if you’re connecting it to your own wallet, Alby doesn’t know what you’re doing, right. It’s your own wallet talking to your own browser extension. And in the security case, well, I think that’s just going to browser security. So it’s a question about how secure browser extensions and browser security is. Obviously that’s a hot topic. There’s often browser vulnerabilities and exploits and things. But nevertheless, it may be something that people can choose to mitigate that risk by, let’s say, if it’s possible to do Macaroons or only authorizing a certain amount of value to be spent or otherwise obviously limiting the amount that’s held in that Lightning wallet. So if it’s connected to your Lightning node and your Lightning wallet, limit the amount that’s held in that. Obviously, don’t be putting your whole stack in there. Obviously this should be the spending money or should be seen as that. But yeah, and I think it gives, I think, a bitcoin experience for the web that’s really, really slick. And so I think for some people that’s worthwhile, they’re going to think, hey, I’m okay with a certain level of risk because I want this convenience and this experience. And over time, as that experience builds out and becomes better and better, then it may become more of a typical thing that people do and they accept a certain level of risk there. I mean, in the same way that people might store credit card credentials in there in some password manager or things like that, that of course credit card information could also be compromised or could also be stolen or hijacked. So I think the ecosystem in the industry will evolve responses and security in response to some of these, but it’s interesting to see which way that goes. Also wanted to chat about the WordPress plugins. So I saw recently you released a WordPress plugin giving a Lightning paywall. So can you explain what this is and how it works?
Moritz – 00:29:18:
Yeah, this is a bit like the other side of Alby. So there is the Alby browser extension side that is really the idea. How can we make it easier for users to spend and receive such on the web as a very consumer driven project? Whereas the WordPress plugin is really like, really targets website operators, developers, publishers, creators. And here our goal is also to make it easier for them to like to receive these sats and to be able to monetize their content. And that’s why we also published the Bitcoin Lightning publisher. That’s the name of the WordPress plugin and it follows very much also the similar idea of the Alby browser extension because you have a very flexible back end where you can connect different wallets. Like I’ll be like your l and d node. Also BTCPay server, for example, or if you. Run a LND hub or lnbits? You can connect that as well. Or just if you have a Lightning address you can just plug it in and then you can activate it. It has different, let’s say more like front end facing functionalities. You can activate a donation widget, for example. You can also activate a pay wall on all types of content. And the interesting part about these pay walls is that they have different functionalities and the idea is also a bit we’d want to give people the chance to experiment a bit because we are still in such an early stage where we do not really know in which regard do paywalls actually convert users to paying users, right? So there is for example, a paywall that can be disabled after hours when the articles published, or can be enabled after 6 hours when the article was published, or after a total amount or a certain amount was collected. So all these different functionalities of a paywall are available and then other things as well, right? So you can quickly add a Lightning meta tag to your WordPress website. So in this case, if you have ever meta tag, you would not need a payment plugin, for example. So that’s especially interesting for people who have not so much developer experience. They don’t know how to add a payment plugin to their website. All they need now is a Lightning address at this Lightning meta tag into the HTML code with the WordPress plugin it’s just a click and then it’s integrated and all people coming to your website using Alby extension can now send you sats on a website. That’s one thing. And what I also find very interesting is, for example, that you can with this WordPress plugin, you can also add a value tag to your RSS feed if you use this, if you use WordPress in general for hosting your podcast.
Stephan Livera – 00:32:37:
Yeah, there’s a lot of functionality and things that can be built out here. And I think the other part that’s really cool is you’re making it accessible for a lot of people, right, because as many people know, or maybe some people don’t know, WordPress powers a massive number of web pages on the internet. Something like 37% or something around 40% of the internet is powered by WordPress and we’re talking about maybe just under 2 billion people. In some sense, we’re talking in hundreds of millions of people who could just install this plug in and boom already now start taking payment in bitcoin to pay wall, their articles or their website. And in terms of getting a Lightning address, there are ways to do that too. So you can run BTCPay server and get a Lightning address out of that. There are some KYC exchanges that even allow you to host, I believe CoinCorner in the UK allow you to get a Lightning address. There are other ways that you can get it through somebody else. So there’s all these ways that you can set up a Lightning address and now you can just get paid into that for your content. It’s just that the world doesn’t realize this yet and it’s really early. Right, exactly.
Moritz – 00:33:43:
But just like if you look at it back one or two years ago, where back then you still had to run your own Lightning node, right now you can sign up some with a wallet. And I don’t know, if you go on Lightning address.com, for example, you see tons of them that already provide a Lightning address. And with a WordPress plug in, like the Bitcoin Lightning publisher or this meta tag functionality, it’s super easy to get started monetizing your content on Lightning. Even easier than adding a PayPal widget to your website.
Stephan Livera – 00:34:19:
Yeah, and without all of the censorship that comes with PayPal, because I’m sure there are people know they’ve seen on the news or even recently there was one with Eric July, he’s a wellknown libertarian creator in the comic book space. And so he was starting his own comic book thing and he was getting locked out from all of his own money by PayPal. But now in Lightning and Bitcoin world, we can set up people can set up their own Lightning nodes and they can set up their own infrastructure and just not get stopped. And it’s incredible. So I think what we as a community have to do is get better about trumpeting and making sure people know about this stuff because it’s there now. And now we have to of course. I guess I don’t get overly enthusiastic. But I think we have to also recognize it’s early and these things still have to be built out in a way that’s easy and nice UX. In a way that all plays together nicely. But the cool thing is, in Bitcoin, there’s an ethos of this interoperability of a FOSS open source culture. And so we’re really seeing that. And so I think we are starting to see some of that now, really. The interoperability and the way these different pieces can connect together and play together to make a very compelling way of doing payments online.
Moritz – 00:35:31:
That’s true. Yeah. You talk about a very important topic. And I think maybe that we should also invest a bit on that because that’s the reason why we not only target no coiners with the Alby extension. But also a lot of thoughts go into how can we make the life of web developers. For example. How can we make that easier for them so that they don’t have to interact or learn how to build something on such a low level as LND Lightning runs or Core Lightning runs. So that’s why, for example, we want to also add more functionality into the Alby browser extension that exposes different features to developers and to interact with the user’s wallet, for example. And that’s why we also heavily working on WebLN was the Lightning web standard and improved this specification that was also started by Will and Joule back then and now also continued with Alby. But in a bigger context, more and more people join, more wallets, integrate a WebLN for example. And it’s important that we make the life of developers easier because only then we see more usage of Lightning on the web and more people come because they like this application that are built there.
Stephan Livera – 00:37:02:
Yeah, there’s so many points of interoperability or so many ways this could apply. If there are content creators online who want to make content and then the people who want to pay them, and if it’s really slick and easy to get started, then we’re building out that network effect, we’re growing the flywheel of bitcoin and Lightning. And so I think it’s really cool to see, I’m excited to see it happen. I’m also curious as well, if you could just explain a little bit about the Podcasting 2.0 sorry, actually one other question. So is there any connection with LSAT as well with what you are working on with Alby?
Moritz – 00:37:41:
Yeah, there is. It’s also a bit related to developer ecosystem and building blocks that we want to support with Alby for the Lightning Network because we recently published a showcase, the Insatgram. It’s like Insatgram just with sets, so you can buy and sell images for sets and send it directly to your own wallet. So the sets, they don’t go over the platform, but the payments are peer to peer, but the files that are the pictures, in this case they are uploaded to our web platform, basically. And it’s a very nice showcase because it includes different building blocks of Lightning. So you have WebLN there for one click payments with the Alby browser extension. You have LNURL there with Lightning addresses from different providers, all interoperable to receive payments because someone like the payer needs to know where they sent the payment to. And then you have also LSAT there. And this showcase is open source and it combines all of these was a nice work actually by Clinton, the Nanjay and Bumi, I think. And what else sats are you doing here? It basically serves as both as an authentication as well as as a payment mechanism here. So you pay for a picture on Insatgram, for example, and you get an authentication token that allows you to request this resource from a website. So in this case, it’s the picture. And the interesting thing here is that you can assign different attributes or capabilities to this token that you get through LSAT. So for example, you can also then give this token to another person. This person can access the same resource on the web. And it could be a picture, it could be a video, like anything that this specific application with an LSAT server basically stores or provides. Right? And I think actually in some ways you could see it as a bit like an NFT, like it’s a token that gives you some certain rights it can also expire. And there are very, very interesting applications out there that you can use or create with LSAT basically, for example. And that’s why we also bring out this Instatgram showcase to just show people how far we have come with Lightning and motivate more to build on Lightning, right? So you can, for example, also serve videos with ads. You can serve podcasts with or without ads, with special scenes or not. And this all works with LSAT. And you do not have to reveal your personal identity because you have this token that you received when you paid it, basically. So it’s a great tool and I really hope to see much more of these showcases out there or even maybe someone who improves and keeps working on Insatgram.
Stephan Livera – 00:41:03:
Fantastic. And so with LSAT, I think it’s interesting that this I believe it came out off the top of my head. I think it was maybe 2020 or maybe 2019 when it came out and the Lightning Labs team and Laulou were talking about it and obviously it was very early then, and now we’re starting to see some actual, oh, well, here’s some, like real practical you can use this. And so I think there’s all these ideas out there and it may take time for one of them to get picked up and put into a project and then it’s actually usable in a way that’s kind of. I guess visible for the average user because I guess when it starts. It seems like. Okay. It’s like a developer thing or like hardcore bitcoin people who are coding away and doing some stuff. But then over time. It becomes practical and accessible for the masses and hopefully we’re seeing this direction happen with more and more stuff around Lightning as well. So I’m certainly I’m bullish on that. And yeah, let’s chat a bit about Podcasting 2.0, because I saw you came out with what’s called Saturn. So do you want to tell us a little bit about that?
Moritz – 00:42:04:
Yeah, so Saturn was basically born because out of the reason that Alby there, Alby Lightning Wallet is also a wallet for podcasters, right? You can receive boosts, you can receive streams, you can also receive booster grams in your I’ll be Lightning Wallet. So it has quite some features there. But the problem here is, in general, if you receive streams, then you suddenly end up with 50 payments of one to 200 sats or so, right? And then you pretty quickly lose the overview. So we are thinking, okay, how can we present this list of transactions in a nicer way? And on the other side, how can we make use of the Alby Wallet API? And then we also looked at the podcaster industry today. And what you see here is also quite interesting because today as a podcaster. You can actually only analyze what episodes your listeners are consuming and the reason is that you can only measure downloads and listeners for each episode of an RSS based podcast. But you do not know actually how your listeners are consuming one specific episode of your podcast and that’s. That’s why we built Sarturn. And I think, although Rainy did a great job here and I think other users should keep in mind that it’s still an early prototype, but it’s a data analytics tool and you get really actionable insights into the podcast performance. So if you run a value for value podcast using the Alby Lightning Wallet, what you can do now is you can connect, you can go on Saturn and you can connect your Alby account, then I’ll be Saturn, gets the transaction data out of your Alby Wallet and nicely displays it. So you see who are your main contributors, for example, you also see Live Booster, Grams and then as a podcast in particular is also interesting to see because you learn if listeners are actually skipping over your episodes intros or your second mid roll for example, or what sections do they actually like in particular and what not. And this is possible because with Podcasting 2.0 you could actually now link value streams like bitcoin based micropayments to information streams like your podcast or the podcast download. And if you combine these, you can bring exactly these insights to podcasts and we are basically decoupling the podcast statistics that are just bound to one specific app and gathered by them and make it available and interoperable through overall podcast or like value enabled podcast apps and make it particular available then for the podcaster. So you also now also own basically the stats to your own podcast. Yeah, and we will see how it turns out. It’s a pretty interesting space, definitely, right?
Stephan Livera – 00:45:24:
Yeah, and I think it’s really interesting because the idea is that with Podcasting 2.0 people are streaming a certain amount of stats every minute or so and they can periodically boost and so you can see when were the boosts happening or when were the streams less. And I guess that’s also kind of how you’re doing that idea of understanding where is the drop off in terms of listeners. So, yeah, I think it’s interesting to see all of these things. So I guess in terms of your outlook on Lightning, just generally, I’m curious, what do you see for Lightning generally or what kinds of things do you want to see being built in the ecosystem?
Moritz – 00:45:57:
If you ask me, what we are missing on Lightning is still we need many many more applications out there. We need more exchanges that include Lightning withdrawals to make the onboarding easier or maybe even deposits to make the offerings easier. Because now that what we see in podcasting, we often get the question okay, how do I get my first sats into the app to get started? Supporting podcasters. Podcasters on the other side ask us, okay, what can I do with such? So we need to provide also at some point nice offerings, or if we don’t have nice offers, we need just many more websites, apps that accept Lightning payments. And that’s what we look after, especially at ibis. We need a way more active developer ecosystem. And there are also, what we have to say, quite interesting initiatives already out there. So like with BoltFun, for example, they create hackathons. It’s super important to get a community of developers going and to have more people joining the system to build apps to convince people to use sats on the web. And I can definitely see that, especially in the creative area, if you build things people and really improve the lives of people. For example, with this Lightning meta tag, we see that on YouTube, for example, you can include that now on your YouTube channel, a Lightning address. Alby picks it up automatically and you can support this podcast. And it’s so easier. It’s a peer to peer payment. It’s like you don’t pay 30% to YouTube, so more sats in app in your wallet. And Alby comes with a lot more of these integrations SoundCloud, for example, on GitHub, Medium, also on Twitter. And these all these things, they all improve the lives of people. They are super simple to integrate. You basically don’t lose anything if you do that. And if you ask people to support you, they actually will support you. Right? And I think this is what we see. I think a lot of more publishers creators find their ways to Lightning because it’s ten times better experience for them to compare payment systems today.
Stephan Livera – 00:48:30:
And I like the idea you just mentioned there about being able to read a Lightning address just on the web. Right? So what you’re referring to there is this idea that people put like the Lightning emoji and then the Lightning address. And so then you’re saying Alby can just pick that up and then the browser, the user who wants to donate, they can see that Lightning address and straight away just tip them like that. That’s what you’re referring to, right?
Moritz – 00:48:54:
Stephan Livera – 00:48:57:
I think that’s really interesting. It’s like my friend Rusty over at Blockstream working on Core Lightning and the Lightning protocol. He mentions this idea that he won’t necessarily be able to predict. He said this years ago to me. He was saying we won’t be able to predict what is the popular use for this thing, but we’ll just kind of be coding away and making this thing and then eventually we’ll just see this use case just blow up out of nowhere. And so I think that’s kind of interesting because we’re seeing this very interoperable way for Lightning payments to be done, where people can just leave a Lightning address just even in their profile somewhere. And then anyone can just donate straight away to that without even having to without any real friction, because if they’re running Alby or something like it like, let’s say Alby gets competitors in the future and there are lots of other extensions or doing the same kinds of thing. And we’ve got this interoperable Lightning web payments going on. And ideally it’s done in a non custodial way where, let’s say people are hooking it up with their own Lightning node. Now we’ve got this non custodial interoperable interface all around the web. And I think that’s a really cool vision for maybe potentially where this is going. Yeah.
Moritz – 00:50:02:
And it makes the life of people so much easier to receive payments. And I think this is a crucial part, if we want Lightning to succeed or just to get a quicker adoption, is we can not only rely on exchanges integrating Lightning, we also need to give users a chance to earn sats on the Internet. And a Lightning address helps because people can get quicker on a Lightning wallet, can distribute their Lightning address to apps, or to put it on their own website and earn some subs. And I’m particularly bullish about web apps, for example, that come with a earning mechanism so that use sats, for example, to incentivize their usage. So, for example, they reward you for posting great content, they reward you for giving tips, but of course they also ask for payments because you consume all the content on these sites. But I think as an app we need to think, or as an app developer, we need to think, okay, how can we create this? Even if it’s just a tiny little economy around one particular app. But this is how you as an app developer, you can more easily onboard new users because you do not rely on users already having sats in their wallet, right, because you give them a chance to earn sats on your own app. And I’m sure we see a lot of more of these type of apps in the future because it makes the user acquisition so much easier.
Stephan Livera – 00:51:43:
Yeah, fascinating to think about, I think, having that built out ecosystem of places where people can spend sats. But I think importantly to your point, earn sats, because I think that’s probably also why we’re not necessarily seeing massive amount of spending using Lightning on some of the sites as an example, Bitrefill and things like that. But maybe that’s because not a lot of people can earn on Lightning. And maybe once they could earn directly into Lightning, well, then it’s only natural for them to actually start spending using Lightning also. So I think that’s an interesting direction as well. Any other thoughts just around bitcoin or where you think it’s going? Any speculations or things you want to share?
Moritz – 00:52:20:
So, yeah, we are really interested in building things. Price also affects us, affects everyone in the industry. But it’s a great time now for us to build things and be prepared for the years ahead. I think it’s never too late to get into this field, especially like starting the learning journey with Lightning and an open source project. From what I can tell, I also started contributing to open source projects. You learn a lot, especially if you have a great community around you that gives you quick feedback. And there are so many communities around or projects that are open source within Lightning or the bigger bitcoin ecosystem. Everyone who wants to get started, I think that’s the right time right now because you’re not distracted by anything else like price or so. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a developer, if you’re a designer. From what I can tell, at least with the Alby team, everyone, if you’re a marketer, if you want to create content, you’re very much welcome. Just let us know. But I guess there are tons of other open source projects that are happy if they have contributors like this.
Stephan Livera – 00:53:35:
Fantastic. Well, listen, go and find them. The website is GetAlby. Getalby.com. There’s a browser extension, there’s a WordPress plug in, all kinds of things. Moritz, where can people find you and any other places to find you guys?
Moritz – 00:53:50:
So, yeah, we are also part of the bitcoin design community. We have a Slack channel there. It’s called Lightning browser extension channel. On Twitter. We also call that called GetAlby there or if you go on telegram we are at T.ME/getalby. And yeah, happy to see happy to welcome more people there. Be cool.
Stephan Livera – 00:54:11:
Thanks for joining me.
Moritz – 00:54:12:
All right, thanks again was a great experience.
Stephan Livera – 00:54:16:
I hope you enjoyed the show. I’m bullish on Lightning and interoperability. I hope you are also. And so maybe you want to try some of these technologies out and let us know what you think or tweet out about your thoughts. Also, I’m choosing to hear what you think. I also see a lot of the comments coming through on Podcasting 20 when people are boosting. So thanks for those comments, everyone, and the support. You can get the show notes at stephanlivera.com/412. Thanks for listening and I’ll see you in the citadels.