Transaction clearing for the World Wide Web.


WebWallet is an API specification for transaction clearing on the Web. The specification is built around the concept of information about debts in the form of IOUs, and defines a publicly auditable data model in which all state transitions are driven by cryptographically signed messages that solve hash puzzles.


WebWallet is NOT:

  • a browser-based wallet service that holds private keys on behalf of users.
  • a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, but enables the creation of units of account.
  • a blockchain like Ethereum's, though it uses the data structure internally.
  • a decentralized, peer-to-peer network, but follows the client-server model.
  • a platform for issuing assets, but a convention for keeping track of liabilities.
  • a payment method like $£€¥₩ Pay/Wallet, but it can be used to build them.
  • a currency exchange service, though it supports multivariate transactions.

Instead, WebWallet is:

  • a currency-agnostic, cryptographically-driven transactional model for the Web.
  • a general-purpose accounting model for creating abstract units of measurement.
  • a protocol for keeping accounts in logically decentralized information spaces.


The main purpose of WebWallet is to enable the implementation of different currency systems with a unified transactional model that supports arbitrary units of account. Abstractions and generalizations are made so that any currency system can be implemented by simply configuring parameters, instead of requiring entirely new software or even a separate network.

Focus and priorities

WebWallet is not about making payments, but cryptographically signed promises to pay. Instead of assets in a settlement network, these promises represent liabilities that can be cleared against balances denominated in the same unit of account. There is no focus on controlling the supply, imposing solvency constraints or creating artificial scarcity, but on increasing the velocity, providing liquidity and encouraging diversity of units of account.

  • Promises, not Payments
  • Liabilities, not Assets
  • Clearing, not Settlement
  • Velocity, not Quantity
  • Liquidity, not Solvency
  • Diversity, not Scarcity

Limitations and Trade-offs

Since WebWallet is focused on transaction clearing for the Web instead of transaction settlement for the Internet, there are some inherent limitations and trade-offs in terms of immutability and risk management. Therefore, WebWallet is not intended to be used as a standalone transactional solution, but as a clearing layer on top of a settlement layer such as Bitcoin.

  • Proof-of-work
    Compared to the hard promises made by a proof-of-work system, WebWallet transaction records are relatively soft promises. This is a constraint imposed by the Web being a logically decentralized information space, in which independent domains will never reach the scale or hashing power of an organizationally decentralized yet logically centralized payment network.

  • Censorship resistance
    WebWallet currently has the same low censorship resistance as the Web. Nonetheless, WebWallet IOUs can be sent through relays and proxies with preventive measures against replay attacks, and the same unit of account can be issued and held in different domains or moved continually between their ledgers, so that censorship risk is spread among them.

  • Risk management
    IOUs denominated in arbitrary units of accounts certainly come with credit and liquidity risks that depend on the creditworthiness and readiness of balances in different units of account. However, creating information about debts relies precisely on the ability to make promises to pay without owning those numbers first, hence this is an acceptable trade-off.

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