The Interledger Foundation today announced that it has formally launched operations as a charitable nonprofit organization. The Foundation’s mission is to steward and advocate for Interledger, an open protocol that permits frictionless payments and micropayments across currencies and ledgers, resulting in opportunities for broader global financial inclusion. Although the creators of the internet knew that it was important to incorporate digital payments natively into its infrastructure, a web-native payments feature is still “reserved for future use” according to its 402 error code. As a result, the gap has been filled over the last 30 years with closed, fee-based and siloed payment networks, which have helped accelerate the financial exclusion of the world’s 1.7 billion unbanked people. Simultaneously, predatory revenue models such as programmatic advertising and data tracking, combined with the high cost of serving mobile ads, prevent millions from participating in digital creator economies. By using an open payments network in which anyone can seamlessly earn, buy, sell, trade and share, the Interledger Foundation will build equitable pathways to financial access and digital participation.
Through funding from its founding members Coil and Ripple and its Board of Directors, the Foundation will advance and support the Interledger Protocol and its open source community in developing better technological standards and new business models for the unbanked and creative economy. The Foundation is now the permanent home of the Grant for the Web program, which funds individuals, projects and global communities contributing to an open and accessible web monetization ecosystem. Coil, Creative Commons and the Mozilla Foundation will continue to provide governance for Grant for the Web.
“The Interledger Foundation aims to bring global awareness to this amazing technology,” said Interledger Foundation Executive Director Briana Marbury (read her inaugural blog here). “And the potential impact would be life-changing for one-third of the world’s population. By fostering the interoperability of formerly siloed networks and providing alternatives to traditional earning models on the web, the Interledger Protocol has the power to greatly advance financial inclusion and uplift the lives of billions in the process.”
Interledger: Driving Global Financial Inclusion
One of the most compelling open payments use cases of the Interledger Protocol has been Mojaloop. The open source software makes it easier for nations to design open payments systems that loop in the unbanked — making it easy to transfer money through a simple SMS text message. Interledger helps make it possible for Mojaloop’s interoperability layer to connect all users, bank accounts, mobile money wallets and merchants in one open payments loop. By removing the barriers that have hindered open payments models, Interledger and Mojaloop enable the world to better meet the digital financial needs of the 1.7 billion unbanked.
Innovation is already taking place in sub-Saharan Africa, where early Mojaloop adopters include a central bank as well as a joint venture between Mobile Network Operators. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, wider adoption of interoperable, open payments could provide more of the population with access to important digital financial services, while boosting the annual GDP of all emerging economies by $3.7 trillion by 2025.
“We need a frictionless way for everybody on the web to compensate and support one another: the curators, the subscription services, the content creators and, of course, the users. The Interledger Protocol is the underlying technology that will be the catalyst in bringing this to fruition,” said Interledger Foundation Chairperson Stefan Thomas, Founder and CEO of Coil, and Co-Creator of the Interledger Protocol.
Advancing the Web’s Creative Economy to All
Aided by the Interledger Foundation’s Grant for the Web program, innovations in Web Monetization, a proposed World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standard, are opening up an entire financial ecosystem for everyone from app and game developers, artists, musicians and podcasters to journalists and freelancers. Using the Interledger Protocol, the Web Monetization browser API provides an open, native, efficient and automatic way to compensate creators that does not force them to rely on advertising, site-by-site subscriptions, or tracking models. This is especially relevant in developing economies where more content creators and consumers are moving online.
“Interledger has the power to disrupt and equalize current online payment structures to expand financial access and help monetize the work of millions of creators on the web. An interconnected payment system based on open standards can provide a viable alternative to siloed systems, walled gardens, and ad and subscription models. By making low-cost transfers of money as easy and inexpensive to send over the internet as it is to send data, Interledger enables a more open global digital economy,” said Interledger Foundation President Evan Schwartz, Co-Creator of the Interledger Protocol.
As new content, video or gaming platforms emerge, they create ways to financially support their artists. For example, creators, like Grant for the Web media artist Annie Berman, Director of The Faithful, are using the Coil-enabled web monetized video platform Cinnamon to stage films worldwide, enabling ticket holders to get access to special bonus events and monetize viewing revenue in terms of hours watched. The Puma Browser, the first browser to natively support the Web Monetization standard using Interledger, enables direct value transfer between content and game creators and their fans, creating a great alternative to ads.
“To truly enable open payments and web monetization requires interoperability — between data, money and beyond. Open source protocols like Interledger have the potential to change this, doing for money what the internet did for data and making it possible for 1.7 billion unbanked people to more fully participate in the formal global financial system,” said Monica Long, General Manager of RippleX at Ripple, a Founding Member of the Interledger Foundation. “Partnering with the Foundation brings us one step closer to achieving this vision by creating standards for payments that will, in turn, foster opportunities for the budding creator economy to monetize.”
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About Interledger and Web Monetization
Interledger is an open source technology that can send payments across different networks, regardless of currency or platform. Interledger is built based on the same principles of the internet that move small packets of data from one network to another at a very high speed and low cost; instead of moving data, Interledger moves currency. Developed through broad collaboration under the W3C, the Web Monetization feature of the Interledger Protocol is a proposed W3C standard that provides a simple way to transfer very small micropayments across the internet, all the way down to $0.0001, or one ten thousand of one cent.
About the Interledger Foundation
The Interledger Foundation’s vision is a world where anyone can seamlessly earn, share, buy, sell and trade with anyone else on the web. To achieve its mission of global financial inclusion, the Interledger Foundation operates as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization to maintain and advance Interledger as a public good in service of financial inclusion. Any bank, provider, government office or other entity can freely use Interledger when designing inclusive payment systems. Creators, developers or organizations can apply to the Foundation’s Grant for the Web program to fund their Web Monetization initiatives. To learn more about the Interledger Foundation, visit https://interledger.org/ and follow Interledger on Twitter, LinkedIn and Slack.
Interledger Foundation Supporting Quotes
“The launch of the Interledger Foundation has the potential to advance financial inclusion in emerging economies. Just as the internet revolutionized digital communication, open interoperability protocols like Interledger can spark innovation and democratize access to digital payments. Enabling open payments to anyone, anywhere, has the potential to increase economic security and opportunity for the 1.7 billion people who lack access to financial accounts and bring them into the fold of the global digital economy,” said Kosta Peric, Deputy Director of the Financial Services for the Poor program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a member of the Interledger Foundation Board of Directors, and Chair of the Mojaloop Foundation.
“Creating economic fairness and opportunity for the unbanked and vulnerable populations is our highest priority,” said Maha Bahou, CEO of Jordan Payments and Clearing Company (JoPACC), and a member of the Interledger Foundation Board of Directors. “We are proud to support the Interledger Foundation and its efforts to advance a more inclusive web future where everyone, everywhere can connect and create as part of the global economy.”
“The Interledger Foundation and Grant for the Web are dedicated to driving financial inclusion by supporting innovators that have historically been excluded as leaders in emergent technologies. Open payment networks on the web can decentralize the privilege associated with monetizing content and we are excited to build a community of web advocates, creators and publishers who are developing powerful solutions to control who benefits from the distribution of their work,” said Chris Lawrence, Senior Program Manager, Grant for the Web, Interledger Foundation.
“Interledger has the potential to revolutionize digital payments and change the economy of the web. Along the way, it will have a significant impact on access to digital financial services connecting markets around the globe. The fact that a developer or creator anywhere in the world can simply put the address of their Interledger-enabled wallet into the HTML of their website and then get paid by users from anywhere else in the world is unprecedented. We are only just getting started in discovering the innovative ways that technologies like Web Monetization and Interledger can be used to change the game.” said Adrian Hope-Bailie, Head of Interledger at Coil, Co-Chair of the W3C Web Payments Working Group, and member of the Mojaloop Foundation’s Board of Directors. Coil is an Interledger Founding Member and Grant for the Web Founding Collaborator.
“Creative Commons is proud to support the Interledger Foundation’s Grant for the Web program, which hopes to address some of the most serious problems facing the web, including privacy abuses related to ads and unethical sponsored content, by fixing web monetization and disrupting content subscription services. With the Grant for the Web’s commitment to awarding at least 50% of all grant dollars to projects that will be openly licensed, funded individuals, projects, and global communities are actively contributing to a privacy-centric, open, and accessible web monetization ecosystem,” said Anna Tumadottir, Director of Product, Creative Commons, a Grant for the Web Founding Collaborator.
“The launch of the Interledger Foundation, the new home for Grant for the Web, will help pave the way for frictionless payments and micropayments for individual creators while making it possible for consumers to browse content without relinquishing reams of personal data,” said Mark Surman, Executive Director, Mozilla Foundation, a Grant for the Web Founding Collaborator.
“To achieve their financial inclusion goals within this decade, central banks and digital financial services providers realize that their real-time payment platforms need to connect to all of their nation’s traditional bank, mobile money and financial systems. By operating on Interledger, Mojaloop helps solve this challenge. We are excited about the launch of the Interledger Foundation and look forward to collaborating to advance financial inclusion,” said Mojaloop Foundation Executive Director Paula Hunter.