The co-founder and software developer at Grant.io, Willie O’Beirne gave an introduction of Joule Allowances on June 13, 2019, as the Bitcoin Network takes one more step closer to attaining its full potential for automated micropayments and ‘streaming money’. Ever since the dawn of Bitcoin, it has been trying to live up to its vision and goal of enabling instant, low-value and continual payments. This is difficult to implement on-chain, especially because a block is being mined roughly every 10 minutes.
Joule Allowances is a web-based tool that seeks to assure users of an authentic, seamless and affordable payment option through the use of Bitcoin. Being a WebLN-enabled browser extension that utilizes the user’s own lightning node, Joule enables seamless micropayments in the background. O’Beirne notes that Joule Allowance payments will be made minimal to only payments made via WebLN only for now so as to steer clear of confusing Joule’s users and to achieve more practical operations.
A Faster Payment Platform
WebLN is an open-source standard gaining popularity which is a new bitcoin standard making lightning payments simplified and easy. The standard which is now being used by two of the more popular lightning wallets, Blue wallet, and Lightning Joule, as well as apps like Lightning Spin, aims to decrease the number of steps a user needs to make a payment. WebLN is a library comprises of specifications for lightning apps and client providers that
O’Beirne developed the standard as he was inspired to contribute to popular Ethereum services, MyCrypto and MyEtherWallet, both of which are used for storing Ethereum’s native currency; ether. This is a little odd due to the fact that Bitcoin and Ethereum users often show signs of rivalry, battling on Twitter and debating the merits of each their preferred digital asset. However, O’Beirne doesn’t seem to care about that.
In the process of configuring the allowance, the options of setting the maximum amount of satoshis the application can use, as well as the maximum amount per payment and the rate at which payments can be made, will be made available to the user. However, to make a transaction with Joule, the user needs an app that provides lightning network payments. A web browser that is compatible is also needed, such as Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Brave has also set to achieve its compatibility with Joule.
O’Beirne clarified that Joule Allowances is still under development stating that;
“Joule’s interface is just the start of automatic payments while browsing the web with Lightning. There’s currently ongoing discussion of how to programmatically request, configure, and inspect allowances via WebLN, a discussion of using the HTTP 402 response code for payments (that could be done automatically), and new features that would make programmable auto-payments more feasible (e.g., customizable LND macaroons.)”
With the potential of Bitcoin micropayments improving, apps such as Lightning Network and Segwit are reducing network congestion, especially in terms of reduced transaction fees and scalability. With the development of automated payments such as Joule Allowances, Bitcoin gets closer to becoming a viable micropayment option as well.