Updated: August 4, 2023

In Browser Bitcoin Payments w/ Moritz Kaminski of Alby

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Key Takeaways

Voltage – 00:00:07:

Happy Friday, sir. Welcome and thank you for spending some time with us today.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:00:11:

No, my microphone is on. Perfect. Yeah. Thanks for the invitation.

Voltage – 00:00:18:

Yes, I’m glad we got to chat and say hey just a few weeks ago on a panel together and I was glad to hear and learn more about Alby. And obviously the WordPress extension has been off to a good start from everything that I’ve seen. So congrats to you guys and on the progress.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:00:36:

Yeah, thank you. Yeah, this is one thing that we are working on. I’m also very excited about that one.

Voltage – 00:00:46:

Well, good deal. Well, while we wait for folks to just pile in here, maybe for those that are here listening, start off and just give us maybe a quick high level, just about your background, how you got involved with Alby to start off.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:01:00:

Yeah, sure. So I got into Bitcoin already quite some time ago and I also have been following the Lightning community since it’s beginning basically and really hands on working with some Lightning project. That was around two years ago. I did some research or wrote some research articles for Google Ventures where I got to know the whole ecosystem quite well. And at some point I found the Lightning browser extension that was called Alby, is now called Alby, basically. And as it’s a purely open source project, I said, look, it’s a great team, it’s a great vision what they have there. Then I joined and since then I’ve been working on Alby full time. I do mainly project management there, but marketing content creation and help this project to succeed. And in the meantime, we’ve been quite productive and have been pushing some things out, like the Alby browser extension. Some people might know it. The WordPress Plugin is one part, so it’s really all about how can we facilitate Bitcoin transactions on the web, like for consumers, for developers, and also publishers.

Voltage – 00:02:49:

Awesome. So I got to say, I’ve had some fun with the browser extension. I went through probably like five weeks ago and connected my Voltage node through it, made some payments and just toyed around and it worked great for me and I really enjoyed it. And I’m curious for those who maybe already have the extension, but they’re just now hearing about the WordPress Plugin, how do these integrate and just work with each other. Can you maybe paint a picture for those who do not understand fully how the two, I guess, serve each other and what value it brings to the Internet?

Moritz Kaminski – 00:03:24:

Yeah, so it’s not easy to transact Lightning like natively on the web. And that’s why we built the Alby browser extension that really allows for these programmatic interactions. Right. And I mean, that you do not have to scan QR codes anymore. You do not have to look for your phone and then make a payment on the web. This works with the browser extension quite seamlessly right now, but it needs some tools to interact with, like websites to interact with. And this can be for example a website that runs on WordPress and has this plugin installed. And then you can interact with these payrolls or donation, which it depends on how you integrate this WordPress plug in quite seamlessly because it’s all like just clicks that you need to do. You can set budgets for example, on a website like this, and then you have one click payment even. So this is really like just the consumer side. So through some like standards like Repple and we make the interaction, the user experience better, easier to make these microtransactions. And then there’s the other side, like the creator side. And there we are thinking okay, how can we actually help them? Help creators earn something for the hard work they do and help them to monetize their content. And for us, Bitcoin is like the perfect money to do that. It’s really like for us it’s the internet money, especially on the Lightning Network. And that’s why we came out with this WordPress plugin. And this means if you are Alby user, for example, if you have the Alby wallet, then you can also link up basically to your WordPress plugin and receive payments there. Now you do not need to be Alby like wallet user to use the WordPress plugin. But this is really like the two sides. So you can use it via the extension, the Alby extension or through the Alby wallet that you can link to the plugin and then receive payments in your wallet.

Voltage – 00:06:00:

Got it. And I remember seeing I think three or four months ago, Marty Bent. I know he uses the Ghost content platform which he uses like a gated feature where someone pays ten sats to read. But Ghost is nowhere near as adopted and uses WordPress which is like 40% of the web, I believe. So is it essentially giving that optionality to content creators? Like for those maybe who understand what Marty is doing? But if I’m understanding correctly yeah, exactly.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:06:29:

So that was also the one reason why we started with WordPress is just because of the broad adoption of this content management system and we thought okay, we need to do something there. Let’s start with WordPress. Could be a low hanging fruit there. Let’s give all the WordPress users easy to use tool to accept Lightning payments. It’s open source. I think Marty also with his developer, maybe they also plan to open source their plug in for Ghost. That would be cool because then also others can contribute help to develop it. I think this is what we need right now in this ecosystem, more tools. Because then there could also be too broader adoption, right?

Voltage – 00:07:28:

Absolutely. What is just the feedback or the reception been thus far ever since it’s come out? Do you have any updates on that?

Moritz Kaminski – 00:07:38:

Yeah, so actually quite good. We are really happy with so far with the adoption of this WordPress plugin, we are not yet actively advertising it. At some point we probably will do, but we also see this as a very community driven tool with its current status because it’s open source. And also you can plug in different back ends. For example, you do not need to use your Alby wallet, you can use any Lightning address that you have. You can also use Voltage because you can plug in your LND node and therefore we appreciate for example if also others help us to distribute it or install it, try it out, give us feedback and the first adoption is quite cool, I have to say. So there are also some really representative sites that are using that and it’s nice to see if you build something and other use that it gives you a quite satisfying feeling.

Nate – 00:08:53:

Hey, this has been awesome. I’m really a huge fan of WordPress. I’ve been using BTCPay server plugins and there’s a couple of other Paywall plugins and the Alby one I haven’t got to play with yet, but I think I will later today. I was aware of the extension for the longest time. So are the functions like you would expect from a website? Can I do paywalls for content? Can I make it as a payment option for something like storefront theme or what are the options I can do with the plugin?

Moritz Kaminski – 00:09:33:

Yeah, so it’s really optimized either for the value for value use case or for selling digital content. Mainly articles there or videos and not yet for selling goods, bigger goods also that need shipping for example. But what you can do is basically you can add a donation widget for example. You can also then add a Paywall with different functionalities. This is also quite cool because you can experiment at it. You have a time out paywall or a time in payroll or for example a Paywall that turns off after a certain amount is collected from readers. So these are all things that you can try out for example or if you are a podcaster. What you can also do there is you can add the value tag to your RSS feed if you host your podcast on WordPress then you can add this Alby plugin. Specify the node ID and custom key customer value. Basically your payment data and then you are a value for value podcast also. So it is really like monetizing digital content that is the focus of this plugin. Yeah.

Nate – 00:11:21:

There was a YouTuber. I forget her name but I retweeted her. But she recently put this cool video out that shows people that have an RSS show to like how to connect Alby and all these things and it’s really just mind blowing because we’re able to now enter this global digital economy in a way with Lightning and I don’t think a lot of people in the world see what we’re building yet. And it’s a really cool feeling being on the cutting edge of the cutting edge because I don’t think this is going to stop. What you’re doing is propelling it forward and I think that’s awesome.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:12:00:

Yeah, I think all of us in this community are working towards this and this is so cool, I think. But what I personally also like is that there are suddenly no boundaries anymore, right? I mean, you can sell your content to anyone globally, basically, because anyone can pay you. And you do not rely on ten different payment networks. We just all rely on Lightning. No matter what wallet you use, you can pay me. So there are really no boundaries to monetization anymore. That is so cool about it.

Nate – 00:12:44:

Yeah, I can’t get over it. It’s crazy. Sorry. Go ahead, Bobby.

Voltage – 00:12:49:

No, it’s really exciting. I’m glad we’re having this conversation today because I even saw a post from Lyle from Vida earlier and there was this guy on Instagram, 200,000 followers leveraging Vida for direct phone calls and text with consumers. And it’s almost like if you wanted to have a lead generation funnel, you can literally do phone call and text for high quality engagement and then say, okay, here’s your subscription to our paywalled services. Pay as you go through and communicate with me. If you’re not getting value versus making this big upfront payment. It’s incredibly popular to sell courses online and there’s these upfront costs or these massive 80% deals and just giving people the freedom to pay as they see fit, I think is going to completely flip these models on their head, like these flash incentives and stuff. It’s just really fun to think about just the ability people have. We just haven’t seen enough people execute on it yet.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:13:44:

Yeah, exactly. So this is definitely something. And I would be also curious, what do you think about it? How do we get like, how do we reach the next wave of adoption on what do we need to focus on? Because when I talk to, for example, the podcasters and tell them about value for value and Podcasting 2.0, so this is all about how to innovate the RSS standard. It’s still quite a lot to explain and then I always wonder, how should I start? Where should I start? Should I start to explain Podcasting 2.0 or should I start to explain bitcoin? I don’t know, what do you think about that?

Nate – 00:14:40:

I mean, I think that we’ve already got a big sort of, I don’t know, head start because we have folks like Adam Curry and a lot of big name podcasters that are spreading the word and mentioning it on pretty much every single one of their shows. So I think that’s really important. But already on podcast index there’s, I don’t know, like a few thousand, I think, shows on there or more than 9000.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:15:04:


Nate – 00:15:12:

I don’t know, I think that explaining how frictionless it is. I mean, you don’t even really have to explain bitcoin. It’s just like, hey, you just plug your RSS into this. And listeners have the option now to just send you value over the Internet that you can exchange for goods and services, gift cards, whatever you want to do with it. I think Lightning is also amazing, especially for the Internet, because I don’t know about you guys, but every time I have to put in my full name, my address, like, all this crap and my credit card to buy something online, it annoys the heck out of me. And I know it’s such a honey pot, but now it’s just like, hey, I pay this Lightning invoice. Nobody knows it’s me, and it’s to someone on the other side of the world. So to answer your question, I think it’s just going to happen organically. We just got to keep talking about it and keep directing people towards resources, especially people that show interest. It’s hard, just cold call people, kind of, but people that yeah, I heard Adam Curry talked about this. I don’t know what that is. And then that’s a great way to get into the conversation.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:16:19:

Yes, I totally agree. I believe we can convince users with a nicer user experience. Then people will come. I guess so, too, because with Lightning, it is definitely possible. And I don’t think that we actually already know what is possible. We just have to show them what we can do, what we can build. And this is going to be mind blowing, I think, in the future. And that’s why we have to, I think, experiment a bit more and publish things. Because at some point we will find something that is really sticky where people think, okay, I’ve just waited for this so long. Now I have finally it’s there, I can use it. And that’s also why at IB, I think similar to you, probably because you also have this, like I heard at least one day a month or one day a week even, where you contribute to open source projects. We do similar thing where we just hack on other things, like basically using our own stuff and build product on it. And the ideas also, like, one day make a showcase, publish it and see how people react, but really, like, use our tools that we have.

Nate – 00:17:51:

Yeah, like a demo or something more.

Voltage – 00:17:54:

It’s your spot on one of the things. Like as a non engineer, I try to think of the best use case for my time on our Foss Friday is what we call it. And looking at what Vida is doing, what Alby is enabling. And I think for adoption, the one thing most people don’t understand how to build is like, marketing and sales funnels. That’s very challenging. Like, 75% of small businesses fail in the first two years, and then within the next three years, the 25% that are remaining, 90% of those fail. So it’s very hard to find success as a small business owner. And I think the gap that needs to be closed even more so is the sales funnel for Bitcoin, because imagine building a sales funnel for a legacy business. It’s already hard. We have hundreds of years of data on that. But now on the Bitcoin economy, it could potentially be even more challenging, it’s fair to say, due to the learning curve. So I’m investing for us to help people understand the practical application and how they can use it. And that might be something that I need to focus on, is build like an education funnel on how to leverage the tools and start doing it, because I think we can get 40 to 50 deeply engaged people leveraging these tools. That’s going to give a lot of powerful feedback and really set the tone for the market as far as maybe what to do next.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:19:11:

Yeah, that’s a good point. So you mean like, you try to find these evangelists that use your tools but also that promote them through self developed apps also, is that what you mean?

Voltage – 00:19:34:

Yes. We sponsor Kevin Rooke, who made a website called Stacksats How and there’s over 58 tools on there and he’s just creating education, teaching the consumer how to use it. Obviously, we sell primarily to businesses, but as of this month, we’re sponsoring a gentleman named Jonathan Levi who’s creating education on YouTube. So I really believe over the next year to two, education is paramount, just not only for adoption, but also for businesses to pay attention and to lend their ear to the consumers who are demanding Lightning Network capabilities within some of these legacy products.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:20:10:


Voltage – 00:20:13:

Kyle, welcome up, man. Did you have a question or want to share something?

Kyle Meinhold – 00:20:19:

I was just looking to piggyback on the UX focus that more is shared. So I completely agree. I think as builders focus on making the user experience easier and just the more frictionless we can offer these services, the easier we’re going to have the ability to show our friends, family, interested parties in the opportunity here. And you guys have touched on providing demos or content, and I really do believe seeing is believing. And so if we can show our friends, family, folks that are curious because of their situation and their business or what have you, I think that’s what pushes us along and we can take advantage of network effects to grow the community. And so that’s what has me most excited about Alby, is how easy it can be to support value for value. If you’re talking about supporting content creators with one click, that’s pretty tremendous. And I think it’s going to blow a lot of minds when it’s actually shown to people and yeah, really excited for what’s being built here.

Nate – 00:21:54:

Go ahead.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:21:58:

Thanks a lot, Kyle, for this feedback. When you talk about supporting value for value creators with one click, can you give an example where you’ve done that, for example, for the other listeners.

Kyle Meinhold – 00:22:15:

So I’m trying to articulate an ideal state that we can work towards by focusing on user experience. So I can’t say that I found it yet, but I think that’s like the North Star that we can strive for.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:22:33:

Yeah, but it’s actually already possible today, right? Because what you could do is you could add your Lightning address on your Twitter profile, or you can add your Lightning address with the Lightning emoji in the front into your YouTube channel in the Bio. And then with the I’ll Be browser extension, you could tip that publisher basically with two clicks if you set a budget, for instance. And this is still like an early stage, we have ideas to expand it and make it even more seamless. But this is just the shows, the possibilities that we have with the Lightning Network. We want to bring really like Bitcoin to the web where people distribute their content. Because I think if we wait until we have new platforms all around Bitcoin, then that is probably too late. So we really need to go there where people are today and infuse all these apps with Lightning because then we can address the people that are there, that are already on these platforms and it’s super easier. I can really recommend, for example, there is this channel called Aria Bitcoin. They have a Lightning address in their description. You can install RB and just send one. Satoshi can send thousands. Satoshi, that is up to you. But it works.

Kyle Meinhold – 00:24:07:

That’s awesome. Yeah. I’m going to piggyback on Nate later today and get my voltage node set up with Alby. I pursued some other wallet integrations previously, got a little hung up, but yeah, I’m excited to actually kind of contribute and support more value for value through Alby. So I appreciate that highlight.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:24:30:

Thank you.

Nate – 00:24:31:

Another thing that’s really sort of an auxiliary benefit towards this is sort of let’s try to minimize this ad revenue model, advertisements and all this stuff. Like in the long run, creators can petition their listeners or viewers or readers to participate in this for their benefit, which is to not get pop ups or not get this garbage that the Internet is full of. And that could be a really unique angle too, from creators. But creators can tell their customers this. And then on the same side, those that are consuming the content, who also consume content from someone else, can tell a different creator, hey, I do this over here with this guy. You should look into it. And the more people that do that, the more that can happen because I really think this metadata revenue model where people, they just take all your, like I said, metadata and stuff and sell it back. Kind of like how Google does it and everything. It should probably be minimized if this takes off.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:25:55:

I totally agree. What the nice thing about direct content monetization is it is a total independent revenue stream for creators, right? You can add that to your current revenues that you get from sponsoring and advertising. You can do that, but you do not have to, and especially from day one, you can monetize your content, right? You do not need to wait until, I don’t know, like you have 10,000 of downloads for a podcast because then only then you become relevant for an advertiser.

Nate – 00:26:32:

That’s such a good point.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:26:35:

You can do it immediately.

Voltage – 00:26:39:

So Morris, I’m very interested in your perspective. You mentioned you’ve done research work with Google Ventures, and it sounds like you have quite a perspective. A lot of people maybe don’t have a background. What do you see as next over the next two to three years? What problems or hurdles need to be overcame if you’re able to maybe share without spilling the beans on projects that you’re currently helping with?

Moritz Kaminski – 00:27:06:

I used to work for Google Ventures yet, but that’s true. But I’m now 100% on I’ll be already for a year now, so I’m not too much involved into their business, I have to say. But what I’m really excited about is that we see more tools that give creators a chance to monetize their content. And WordPress plugin is one thing. I really also hope, for example, for open source Ghost plugin, we will have to see, we have to experiment. So I don’t really believe in this typical payroll, I have to say. Honestly, I think we need to have smart concepts around us, combine it with other things so that it gets really more interesting. This is one thing really, like more content, creative tools that we give them the chance to monetize their content, because there is some need for that, I believe. And on the other side, when it comes to web apps, for example, the strength of the Lightning Network is really these bi directional payments. So it’s not only sending payments, but it’s also receiving payments. And a lot of apps already provide that to their users and build in some like really bi directional payment mechanics. And you just have to come up with a smart way to do that, right? Because you can even incentivise people to use your app by paying out some little rewards in the form of Satoshi, for example. And so all these little economies. I think this is where I’m really excited about when web apps start to develop the circular economies within their apps. So that I don’t have to buy my bitcoin up front. I can go there. I can try the app out if it’s just 100 satoshi that I get in the beginning. But I can earn. I can spend. And at some point then it clicks. I like the app so much, I’m willing to top up my wallet there with some external funds. And I think this is important that we see that we give users a chance to interact with apps without going to an exchange and buying Bitcoin.

Nate – 00:29:58:

I think it was John Carvalho, he has this way of where his show, it’s just a podcast, press play button to listen. And it’s like as soon as it comes out, you cannot listen to it unless you pay at least a certain amount of sats. And then you can listen to it, but after it reaches a threshold, then it unlocks for everybody to listen to. So after up to X amount of bitcoin is earned on that, then it unlocks it for everybody, but the people that want to listen to it right away have to pay for it. Something like that. Is that just an example of something sort of creative?

Moritz Kaminski – 00:30:36:

Yeah, exactly. Totally. So a bit more than just, okay, I pay and then I get the article. For example, I could also think of really micropay walls within an article. I pay per paragraph, for example, or I pay per scroll that I might make, for example. When I scroll down the article, each time I do that, I pay 100 satoshi, for example. And it’s so seamless, and it already works today with the Webblind standard, for example. And so all these concepts around us, because on the one hand side, you want to distribute content, right? You do not want to lock it away from your users. You want that your users actually can access this content. So if you put in a paywall, then there is a barrier. And if people always constantly have to decide, do I really now want to buy and spend some sats or not? This is also a bit of a mental burden, I think. And therefore that’s what I mean, why we need more creative solutions around that. This one from Junkie Value is one, because if you wait long enough, you can access this information. But if you are a hardcore fan, for example, and you are anywhere willing to spend something for it and purchase earlier, then you have an exclusive access. And this is, for example, interesting for hardcore fans, or for the average fan.

Nate – 00:32:23:

For example, imagine the access that video streaming services are popping up left and right. Hulu, netflix. HBO. Showtime, disney. All these. Imagine if instead of having to pay monthly, you have access to everything, and it’s just like a sat stream. So if I get bored in the first ten minutes of a movie, it just cuts me off at that point. I think that is like another example. And that would just be hugely disruptive if someone came out with sort of a Netflix competitor, got some licensing to stream some TV shows and just did it the Lightning way. That would be really neat.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:33:04:

Yeah, totally. I’m waiting for it. I think Brandon, actually, who is also on your team, isn’t he working? I think he’s working on with Ivy on streaming sats, to know, like first 10 seconds or so for a video.

Nate – 00:33:25:

Love to see it. This is great.

Voltage – 00:33:27:

Yeah. He’s doing the rick. Roll video.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:33:31:

Yeah, waiting, waiting for a showcase. Hopefully he can finish it soon.

Voltage – 00:33:45:

An open question. If anyone wants to, like, raise their hand, feel free to pop up. Morris, as far as, like, anything I’ll be working on next, is there anything you can share? Is it under wraps right now? It sounds like this is just the beginning of what you guys are doing, based on the wording you used earlier in the conversation.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:34:09:

No. Yeah. I mean, we are still working towards our vision, like, really enable everyone to take part in an online economy. And with Bitcoin, we have the perfect tool to that. So we want to help consumers spend. Developers integrate Lightning into their app with an API that is out there, or consumers like creators to receive bitcoin. And around that there will be more releases. And I hope also at some point, for example, can get easier to Bitcoin onramp service directly into the IB browser extension so that you can purchase some sats directly within the extension and put them in whatever wallet you connected to the extension. For example, I hope also that a lot of web apps will benefit from that because then there are users, there are more users with some sats in their pockets and that they can then spend. Yeah.

Voltage – 00:35:18:

Nate, I’m going to have to peer pressure you hard into making some sats content for the Voltage website.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:35:26:

What do you mean?

Voltage – 00:35:28:

I’m going to be like, make this and we’ll charge $1,000.

Nate – 00:35:36:

I like what we were just talking about a second ago. Imagine sort of like a loading bar and it’s like once it reaches X amount, then everybody can read it, but until then, you got to pay for it. I love that idea so much.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:35:48:

Yeah. Pressure your website visitors to try out Lightning just on your website.

Nate – 00:35:57:

Yeah, it doesn’t have to be every article, but maybe we can have some exclusive ones that might get people to do that.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:36:05:

Exactly. And it could be just a symbolic amount, right? Like, really ten sats So this is not even a sense. But still, people have to interact a bit, and after they do that, I think the majority even feels proud of that. Okay, now I got it to work. And it’s actually super cool, super simple. Now let’s go and find other places to spend sats in and use Lightning more.

Nate – 00:36:36:

Right. It’s like you can write articles. You earn some sats from writing articles, and then you go and then use those sats to listen to music or watch movies. And it just becomes a circular global thing with no borders, no censorship, no nothing. It’s just a great vision.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:36:54:


Kyle Meinhold – 00:36:55:

I’d like to highlight what More had said as well, though, that by solidifying the learning, by solidifying the actual action of sending sats via this simple tool, now that person is empowered to. Go share with their friends, family. So that’s how we can kind of grow things as well.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:37:21:


Voltage – 00:37:24:

Well, Martha, we appreciate your time. Thank you for joining us again. As you guys have updates and new releases, we’d love to have you or the team on to share what’s going on. So we appreciate it.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:37:36:

Cool, thanks a lot. Yeah, we really operate in the open, so develop in the design in the open. If someone wants to see what’s going on, what we plan, what we are currently working on, we have like every 2nd, 3rd day. We have a community call where everyone is invited, can join, can just listen in and you can contribute whenever you want, whatever you want. So you don’t need to be a designer or developer. We also appreciate any content contribution, an article, a guide, videos that would be super helpful.

Voltage – 00:38:17:

That’s wonderful. Yes. If there’s a link or anything for that or information, make sure to message it to me and I’ll be sure to include that in the notes for YouTube.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:38:26:

Okay? Awesome. I will do that. Thanks a lot.

Voltage – 00:38:30:

Alright sir. Well, we’re grateful again for your time. Thank you so much. Have a blessed weekend and we’ll see everyone next week.

Moritz Kaminski – 00:38:37:

Thank you. Likewise, I appreciate it a lot. Was fun.

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