Skip to main content

Web Monetization Receivers

This page describes the functions of the Web Monetization (WM) receiver and how existing payment services might become a WM receiver.

A WM receiver is a digital entity that accepts payments over Interledger on behalf of a website and is capable of receiving micropayments.

When a user has Web Monetization enabled in their browser and they visit a monetized website, the browser resolves a unique receiving address for sending payments to the website's WM receiver. The browser then begins sending payments through the user's WM sender.

Payment pointers

A payment pointer is a unique URL assigned to your payment account by your WM receiver.

The expectation is that a WM receiver will issue one or more payment pointers to its customers and these customers will embed the pointer into the websites they want to monetize. The user's browser then fetches connection details from the pointer to open a payment stream with the WM receiver.

Payment pointers resolve to secure URLs, making it possible for WM receivers to redirect browsers to alternate addresses using standard HTTP redirects.

One benefit of payment pointers is that they provide a level of indirection that allows browsers to protect the privacy of users from their WM senders. Specifically, a browser uses a pointer to request a unique destination address and shared secret from the website's WM receiver. Only the unique destination address for the session is given to the WM sender. This prevents the WM sender from correlating a payment pointer with a website.

Receiving payments

Any entity that is able to accept payments on behalf of websites can be a WM receiver if it supports the necessary protocols. To accept a stream of payments on behalf of its users, a WM receiver MUST support the following protocols from the Interledger stack:

  • Interledger Protocol (ILP) - Establishes a micropayment stream and sends payments
  • Simple Payment Setup Protocol (SPSP) - Exchanges payment information between payee and payer to facilitate payment over ILP
  • STREAM Protocol - Establishes micropayment streams between entities using the ILP

Interledger protocol (ILP)

The ILP routes individual micropayments. Interledger allows for payments to be sent at very high volumes and in very small denominations. Payments are sent as Interledger packets, which are optimized for this use case.

The WM receiver must set up a link into the Interledger network. More specifically, the WM receiver must have an Interledger connection (direct or indirect) to any web monetized senders that want to pay the WM receiver.

Simple Payment Setup protocol (SPSP)

The SPSP exchanges payment information between the WM receiver and WM sender to facilitate payment over the ILP. The WM receiver must host a secure HTTP endpoint that returns a unique destination address and shared secret for each request.

SPSP messages MUST be exchanged over HTTPS.

Example Response to an SPSP request

  1. Alice is a customer of Secure Receiving Wallet Ltd. who can act as a Web Monetization receiver.

  2. She is allocated the SPSP endpoint URL https://securewallet.example/~alice.

    This URL can also be expressed as: $securewallet.example/~alice.

  3. A GET request is made to her SPSP endpoint URL with an accept header of application/spsp4+json.

GET https://securewallet.example/~alice
Accept: application/spsp4+json
  1. The server responds with a JSON response carrying the Interledger destination address and shared secret to open a payment stream with Secure Receiving Wallet and send Alice money.
"destination_account": "test.example.hRWyGw4JzvFCdMUlEKd1kXPZ",
"shared_secret": "qobHsPWoyWh0gCQLx2e9x1bQeDikD4fdmYHGT52VKn8="

More details on SPSP can be found in IL-RFC 0009 - Simple Payment Setup Protocol.

STREAM protocol

The STREAM protocol establishes micropayment streams between entities using the ILP. STREAM is loosely based on QUIC and provides similar features over ILP that QUIC does over IP. STREAM stands for STREAMing Transport for the Real-Time Exchange of Assets and Messages.

For an entity to be a WM receiver, it only needs to run a STREAM server, accept connections, and handle the incoming payments sent over the connection.

The browser uses the connection parameters (ILP destination address and shared secret) it acquired through SPSP to establish a STREAM connection with the WM receiver. Then, a stream of payments can be made to the WM receiver until the stream is closed.

Each set of connection parameters is unique, meaning the user's WM sender can't correlate the payments it makes with the website.

The WM receiver may issue payment receipts via the STREAM connection. The browser can submit receipts to the web page allowing the page to verify payment during a user's session.