LNURL is a standard protocol for Lightning Network-based bitcoin payments that enables users to interact with Lightning-enabled services via simple and easy-to-use URLs. These URLs are encrypted with cryptographic data, allowing for secure and efficient communication between the user’s Lightning bitcoin wallet and the Lightning node of the service provider.
LNURL can be used to start various Lightning transactions, such as payments, invoice requests, and even Lightning channel opening requests. It is intended to be highly adaptable, with applications ranging from online shopping to peer-to-peer micropayments.
One of the primary advantages of LNURL is its simplicity. Instead of manually entering payment information or scanning QR codes, users can initiate a payment or transaction by simply clicking on an LNURL link. This makes using Lightning-based services much faster and more convenient, which can help to drive wider adoption of the Lightning Network and bitcoin in general.
Find out more: What’s the Lightning Network?
How it works
Here’s how LNURL works:
- A merchant generates an LNURL that includes a payment request and any additional information they want to provide, such as a description of the product or service being sold.
- The user’s Lightning Network wallet reads the LNURL by scanning a QR code or clicking on a link.
- The wallet decodes the LNURL and displays the payment request and other information to the user.
- The user confirms the payment request and initiates the payment using their Lightning Network wallet.
- The merchant receives the payment and fulfills the order.
LNURL in practise
Here are a few examples of how to use LNURL in practice:
- Online shopping: An e-commerce website could generate a unique LNURL link for each purchase, allowing customers to pay for their orders quickly and easily with their Lightning wallets. Customers would no longer have to manually enter payment information or navigate complex checkout processes, streamlining and improving the shopping experience.
- Micropayments: Content creators could accept micropayments from their fans and supporters by using LNURL. A musician, for example, could post an LNURL link on their social media accounts, allowing fans to tip them in bitcoin in exchange for their work. This would allow fans to easily support their favorite artists without having to go through complicated payment processes.
- Payment gateways: Bitcoin payment processors such as BTCPay Server could use LNURL to provide merchants with Lightning-based payment processing services. This would allow merchants to accept Bitcoin payments without worrying about the technical details of the Lightning Network, while also providing customers with a more seamless and user-friendly checkout experience.
- Donations and fundraising: Non-profit organizations and charities could use LNURL to accept donations and fundraising contributions from supporters. For example, a charity could create a unique LNURL link for a fundraising campaign, allowing donors to easily and securely contribute Bitcoin to the cause.
Platforms using LNURL
Here are some platforms and services that use LNURL:
- Strike: Strike is a mobile payment app that uses the Lightning Network and supports LNURL payments.
- Bitrefill is an e-commerce site and app where you can use bitcoin to purchase digital gift cards, talktime and internet bundles. In a few countries, you can also make bill payments with bitcoin.
- Phoenix Wallet is a Lightning Network wallet for bitcoin.
- Breez Wallet is another Lightning Network wallet that supports LNURL payments.
- Amber is a mobile-first app designed to buy, sell, and transfer bitcoin.
- Azteco is a bitcoin voucher platform that allows you to buy bitcoin at participating Azteco retailers or online.
- LNBits is an open-source platform for creating Lightning Network-powered apps and services. LNBits supports LNURL as a way for services to accept Lightning payments.
- BTCPay Server is a Lightning Network payment gateway that supports LNURL payments.
- Bolt Card is a bitcoin debit card that enables you to spend your bitcoin at Lightning compatible merchants all over the world.
- Sats2Data facilitates bitcoin purchases of airtime or data bundles in Africa.
- Umbrel is a self-hosted bitcoin and Lightning Network node that comes with a suite of applications and services. Umbrel supports LNURL payments for some of its services.
Read our reviews of platforms supporting LNURL
In general, LNURL has the potential to simplify and optimize a wide range of bitcoin-related applications, making it easier for users to interact with the Lightning Network and facilitating greater global adoption of bitcoin.