With the introduction of "Joule Allowances" technology, the Bitcoin network is one step closer to realizing the potential for automatic micropayments and "streaming currency."
Joule Allowances implements BTC automatic micropayment
Since its inception, Bitcoin has been striving to achieve its promise to become a promoter of low-value, instant payments. However, this is difficult to achieve on the bitcoin chain, especially when only one block can be mined every 10 minutes. Now, a web-based tool promises to make Bitcoin a reliable, seamless, and affordable payment option. On June 13, 2019, software developer and Grant.io co-founder Willie O'belne introduced Joule Allowances.
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Joule is a browser extension that supports WebLN, which uses the user's own lightning network node to support seamless micropayments in the background.
In order to avoid confusion for Joule users and make their operations more practical, O'Beirne pointed out that current Joule Allowances payments will be limited to payments via WebLN.
WebLN is a library that contains specifications for lightning applications and client providers to facilitate secure communication between applications and user lightning nodes.
To use Joule for transaction payments, users need an application that accepts or sends lightning payments, as well as a compatible web browser such as Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Brave will soon be compatible.
When configuring Allowance, users can choose to set the maximum number of satoshis their application uses, the maximum amount each payment, and the frequency of payments.
Joule is still under development. O'Beirne said,
“Joule is just the beginning of automatic payments. I’m currently discussing how to programmatically request, configure, and check for allowances through WebLN, discuss how to use HTTP 402 response code for payments (which can be done automatically), and new ways to make programmable automatic payments more viable. Features (for example, customizable LND macaroons).
Bitcoin micropayment ability
Regardless of whether the fee is high or low, bitcoin transactions must wait for confirmation from the next block, which usually takes 5-15 minutes.
According to Bitcoinfees.earn.com, the fastest and cheapest transaction cost at the time of this writing is 72 satoshis/byte. For transactions with a median size of 225 bytes, the handling fee is 16,200 satoshis. (1BTC is equal to 100 million satoshis.)
However, technological innovations such as Lightning Networks and SegWit are alleviating network congestion, especially in terms of scalability and lower transaction costs. Nowadays, the emergence of automatic payments such as Joule Allowances is a step closer to making bitcoin distance a viable micropayment option.