What Is Alby?
Alby is an open-source browser extension, and serves as both a Bitcoin Lightning wallet and a gateway to the Nostr social media protocol. With the Alby Extension, you can seamlessly link your wallet, enabling the use of Bitcoin LN wallets and Nostr clients.
By setting up an Alby Account, you gain access to a custodial Lightning wallet (non-custodial solutions also available), empowering you to make payments conveniently while on the move.
Moreover, Alby speeds up the process of accessing to Nostr clients like Primal or Iris, sparing you the need to repeatedly input your keys every time you need to log in.
|🗓 Release year
|💰 Coins Supported
|Bitcoin (BTC) (Lightning Network)
|🔒 Security Features
|Passcode, Encryption, Non-Custodial (With Your Own Node)
|📜 Software License
How Alby Works
Alby works as a browser extension that brings the Bitcoin Lightning Network into your web browser. Its core workings can be understood as follows:
Installation: Users can add the Alby browser extension to their preferred web browser, including popular options like Chrome, Edge, Opera, Brave, and Firefox.
WebLN Standard: Alby adheres to the WebLN standard, serving as an interface for websites to interact programmatically with the Lightning Network. This standard allows websites to seamlessly engage with Lightning Network nodes for various tasks, such as making payments, generating invoices, and facilitating user logins.
Multiple Node Backends: Alby is versatile in its ability to connect to different Lightning Network node implementations, encompassing both custodial and non-custodial setups, offering users choices that align with their preferences.
Web Payments: Alby empowers users with the capacity to set custom budgets and allowances for websites, simplifying payment streams and enabling auto-payments. It also integrates LNURL-pay, streamlining Lightning Network payments while browsing the web.
Authentication: Supporting LNURL-auth, Alby enhances the security and convenience of authenticating on websites that utilize the Lightning Network.
Payment History: Alby maintains a detailed payment history, accompanied by additional metadata related to the websites. This feature aids users in keeping track of their Lightning Network transactions and spending.
WebLN Functionality: Alby provides robust support for WebLN operations, covering both sending and receiving payments, creating invoices, and executing signature operations. This ensures that users can interact with Lightning Network nodes securely and programmatically.
Native Companions: Alby features native connectors to native applications on the host computer. These connectors enable communication with Lightning Network nodes behind the anonymity network Tor, bolstering privacy and security.
Community and Contributions: Alby is an open-source project that welcomes contributions from developers and designers. It aligns with the WebLN standard and is focused on web-centric tasks, like payments and authentications, rather than being a comprehensive node management UI.
Browser Support: Alby is compatible with a range of web browsers, encompassing Chromium-based options like Chrome, Edge, Opera, and Brave, along with Firefox. The extension continually evolves to expand its browser compatibility.
Basically, Alby functions as a connection between the web browser and the Bitcoin Lightning Network, facilitating seamless interactions for web payments, authentications, and associated tasks.
It prioritizes user convenience, flexibility, and security, contributing to the broader integration of Lightning Network technology across the internet.
Alby Main Features
Alby is a comprehensive solution packed with an array of features, making it an indispensable tool for your everyday use of Lightning and Nostr.
Alby introduces a browser extension that seamlessly integrates Bitcoin and Nostr into your web browsing experience, enhancing your online interactions.
Connect other LN wallets
You can connect one or multiple Bitcoin Lightning wallets and manage them directly within your web browser. This single extension offers control and convenience for your wallet needs.
Alby empowers you to generate and manage multiple keys, providing access to the evolving Nostr ecosystem, which is a social media protocol designed for a new online experience.
By creating an Alby Account, you gain access to a lightning wallet, allowing you to make Bitcoin payments from anywhere you browse the web.
Developers can tap into the WebLN standard and the Alby API to enable instant payments for their services, embed Bitcoin wallets for users, and allow lightning wallet logins. This is particularly valuable for podcasters and online service providers.
How To Get Started With Alby
When start using Alby, the initial point to grasp is that you have two choices:
- Open an Alby Account: This serves as your fresh Lightning Wallet, complete with a shiny new "Get Alby" address.
- Download the Browser Extension: This allows you to connect other Lightning Network wallets or Nostr private/public keys to Alby.
You also have the flexibility to carry out both of these actions in tandem.
How To Create An Alby Account
To fully unlock the potential of Alby and access its myriad functions, the optimal starting point is to create an Alby account.
This initial step paves the way for further integration, allowing you to link your existing wallets or incorporate Nostr private/public keys, among other possibilities, into the Alby ecosystem.
- Click on "Create Account" to get started.
- Type your email and then click on "Sign Up".
- Check your inbox, copy the One-time login code, paste in the field and then click on "Log in".
- You will now be able to see the Alby dashboard. It's basically a Lightning Wallet.
To unlock more features, it's advisable to connect this account with the Alby extension.
How To Download The Alby Browser Extension
Since you have now an account, it's a good idea to download and install the Alby browser extension. Which is available for all Chrome based browsers, but also other browsers.
- Go back to the Alby homepage, and click on "Add Browser Extension".
- You will be redirected on the official google chrome web store (if you use Chromium-based browsers). Make sure you are on the real Alby extension page. Then, click on the blue button to add the extension to the browser.
- Click on "Add extension".
- Add an unlock passcode and then click on "Next".
- You can now connect the extension with your Alby account.
How To Top Up The Alby Lightning Wallet
To receive Bitcoin through Alby, simply click on the extension located in the top right corner of your browser and then select the "receive" option. You have the choice to receive both on-chain Bitcoin and Lightning wallet Bitcoin.
However, if you don't currently have Bitcoin ready to send in another wallet, the most practical solution is to use a cryptocurrency exchange. You might wonder which solution is best for topping up your Alby account. Alby offers an integrated solution called MoonPay, a KYC-compliant platform that allows you to purchase Bitcoin. MoonPay is trusted by various companies, including Wallet Of Satoshi.
It's worth noting, though, that MoonPay's fees are relatively high, which means that for your fiat currency, you'll receive a smaller amount of Bitcoin compared to other solutions. Therefore, an alternative and highly recommended option is Kraken.
Kraken is a regulated centralized exchange that enforces KYC requirements but stands out for its low trading fees and minimal network fees. Additionally, Kraken supports rapid and cost-effective withdrawals using the Lightning Network, making it an ideal choice for topping up your Alby Bitcoin Lightning wallet.
How To Login On Nostr With Alby
One of the functions I particularly appreciate about Alby is the effortless login experience it offers on Nostr clients such as Primal or Alby.
When I clear my cache and don't have Alby installed, I'm required to manually input my private key on Primal or Snort, which can be quite bothersome. This inconvenience is effectively removed when you have Alby as a browser extension.
Now I will explain how to add your Nostr private key in Alby, in order to automatically login on most of the Nostr clients, like Primal for example.
- Click on the Alby extension icon on the top right of your browser.
- Alby will open. Click on the menu icon and then on "Settings".
- Find the Nostr section, and then click on "Go To Accounts".
- Select your account.
- Assuming you already have a Nostr private/public key, click on "Import Master Key". You will be then prompted to insert it.
- Visit your favorite Nostr client, in this case Primal. An Alby window will appear. Click on "Connect".
- Click on "Confirm".
- Click again on "Confirm".
- You will now see that you will be automatically logged in on Nostr thanks to the Alby extension.
Who Created Alby?
The official terms and conditions provide limited information regarding the precise location of Alby's headquarters, with only a reference to Zurich, Switzerland.
Alby was founded by Michael Bumann and Moritz Kaminski, both entrepreneurs and Bitcoin enthusiasts, with an extensive experience in Bitcoin and Lightning technology.
Is Alby Secure?
Having explored Alby's core functionalities and delved into some usage guidance, a crucial question naturally arises: Is Alby a secure wallet?
Alby shoulders the critical responsibility of safeguarding your sats (Bitcoin) and the private keys linked to your Nostr identity. It's a task not to be taken lightly, as any compromise of these assets could lead to significant complications.
By default, Alby functions as a custodial browser wallet, meaning that your sats are essentially stored as database records on Alby's servers. However, these database records are backed by sats in a channel on Alby's node.
For those seeking a fully non-custodial experience, Alby offers that option as well. You can configure the Alby extension to use your personal Lightning Network node. In this scenario, you must have a node with open channels and ample liquidity.
When examining Alby's Trustpilot page, it's worth noting that there are relatively few reviews at this time, with just one available. This limited feedback makes it challenging to form a comprehensive assessment based solely on user reviews.
Nevertheless, it's crucial to recognize that Alby is an open-source platform. Your private keys are encrypted and stored exclusively on your own device. No one has access to your keys or your actions.
The open-source nature of Alby's browser extension means that it is a product created by the community, for the community. The source code is available on Github, enabling transparency and community contributions to enhance the platform's security and functionality.
While Alby stands out as a unique browser lightning wallet, there are some noteworthy alternatives within the realm of Lightning wallets. Let's consider a few:
- Wallet Of Satoshi: This is a custodial wallet available as an iOS and Android app. Renowned for its extensive adoption and user-friendly interface, it enables seamless Bitcoin transactions on the Lightning Network and provides users with personalized addresses effortlessly.
- Phoenix: As one of the most popular non-custodial Lightning wallets, Phoenix combines user-friendliness with the security of maintaining your own keys. It's exclusively available as a mobile app for Android and iOS. Notably, it automates channel management, streamlining the user experience.
Alby Pros & Cons
|✅ Secure private key encryption
|❌ Limited user reviews on Trustpilot
|✅ Flexibility to use both custodial and non-custodial setups
|❌ High fees associated with MoonPay integration
|✅ Seamless login for Nostr clients
|❌ Custodial setup by default
|✅ Integration with various Lightning Network wallets
|✅ Open-source nature encourages community contributions
|✅ Privacy and control over private keys
Alby is a versatile browser extension that provides seamless integration with the Lightning Network and Nostr. Its primary functions include offering both custodial and non-custodial wallet options, seamless login for Nostr clients, and integration with various Lightning Network wallets.
While it may have some limitations, such as the availability of user reviews, its open-source nature and commitment to privacy and control over private keys make it a compelling choice for users seeking a flexible and secure solution.
Security: While Alby remains connected to the internet, your private key it's encrypted and stays in your computer. The app is open source, so fully verifiable. Also, the ability to exercise self-custody is highly valued due to its extensive integration with Lightning nodes. Users have the option to run their own Lightning Network node and link it to Alby, but they must also manage liquidity and balance it. (4/5)
User-friendliness: Alby is relatively user-friendly, but the multitude of options and potential confusion between the web dashboard and the extension may pose challenges for the average user. (4/5)
Compatibility: Alby boasts compatibility with virtually all modern web browsers, and its integration with the Zeus Lightning Wallet extends its usability to mobile devices, earning it a perfect rating in this regard. (5/5)
Reputation: Within the Bitcoin and Nostr communities, Alby enjoys a commendable level of recognition and fame. (5/5)
Cost: Alby doesn't impose significant fees. However, it suggests Moonpay as an in-app option for topping up the wallet, which may not be the preferred choice for users. This recommendation is understood as a means for developers to generate revenue. (3/5)