Breez Open Beta: Lightning-Fast Bitcoin Payments, No Compromises

TL;DR: Breez is a n00b-accessible, non-custodial bitcoin payment platform. It allows users to transfer and receive bitcoin within seconds, safely, for everyday purchases, and at almost no charge over the Lightning Network. Need proof? Take our open beta for a test drive.

In his Introduction to Mathematics, Alfred North Whitehead, mathematician, philosopher, and all-around genius, wrote that

Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.

His point is that society needs a division of intellectual labor. We don’t have to understand every aspect of the world around us. If you needed to be an engineer in order to cross a bridge, we would have few bridges. If computers still worked with command-line interfaces or — just imagine — *punchcards*, you wouldn’t be reading this here.

Whitehead looks like he doesn’t do much without thinking about it, doesn’t he? [Source: Wikipedia]

As long as using bitcoin requires users to think about things like web vs. physical wallets, QR codes, and the size of the mempool, it will remain a niche interest for well-informed FinTech specialists and computer geeks. Until casual users can use it to buy pizza and Netflix without thinking about it, bitcoin won’t become the currency it was always meant to be.

Breez is a n00b-accessible, non-custodial payment platform. It allows users to pay with bitcoin within seconds, safely, for everyday purchases, and at almost no charge.

With the release of its open beta, Breez is democratizing bitcoin. Come one, come all!

Breez Is Non-Custodial

It might sound like calling a bitcoin payment platform non-custodial and n00b accessible is a contradiction. Users typically face the choice between custodial services and non-custodial services.

Generally speaking, custodial services are intuitive and easy to use, but that convenience comes at a very high cost because the users have to relinquish their money to the service. These services have basically reinvented fiat banks … with higher barriers to entry … and higher risk. If ease of use is so important that we needed custodial services to provide it, we’d be better off sticking with existing banks. They’ve been honing this business model for centuries.

State-of-the-art custodial wallet design, c. 2019. [Source: U of T, Austin]

Non-custodial services are the alternative, but they have problems of their own. Traditional Bitcoin wallets come with delays of 10 minutes or more per transaction, and their fee structure punishes smaller transactions — most transactions.

Non-custodial wallets on the Lightning Network are much faster and cheaper, but these advantages cost convenience and functionality. Some are “outbound only,” meaning they can’t receive payments (!). Others expect users to run their own network node and to set up and manage their payment channels — in addition to the typical complications of a bitcoin wallet. Remember: civilization is the unthinking performance of important operations. If keeping bitcoin out of the mainstream were the goal, these non-custodial Lightning-Network wallets would be perfect.

In effect, Breez combines the ease of a custodial service with the user autonomy of a non-custodial one. Breez runs on the Lightning Network, with its benefits of speed and economy, but it’s non-custodial and requires zero configuration on the part of the user. The Breez hub opens and funds the payment channel automatically, letting users start transferring and receiving payments from any entity on the Lightning Network as easily as they would send a text message. If you can download the mobile client, you can understand how to use it.

Breez Just Works

Being easy to use is one thing, but being useful is another. An intuitive app isn’t worth anything if its features have just been stripped down.

If the interface were any easier, it would read your mind (Wait! Call product development!)

The Breez mobile client is a Neutrino-based light node. It lets users transfer funds in any denomination and receive payments. (It’s sad that the ability to ‘receive payments’ is a selling point, isn’t it? This is why the world needs Breez.) Mobile messaging is also used to keep the client synced to the blockchain in the background. This gives users the speed and economy of Lightning Network transfers, the security of blockchain, and the convenience of automatic, invisible maintenance.

Let’s say you want to transfer some Satoshis to a friend. Most other Lightning Network clients would require you to call your friend on the phone and arrange a time when both clients will be open.

With Breez’s Connect-to-Pay function, you never have to use last century’s technology. The client gives you a link, you send that link to your friend, your friend clicks on that link to open the client and authorize the transfer, and you’re done. No dial tones, no email, no telegraphs. Sound like Venmo? Exactly.

If you need this to transfer your bitcoin, you’re doing it wrong. [Source: Wikimedia]

Breez Gets Better Everyday

As the music and publishing industries are learning, the only way to stay in the market is to integrate the best and newest technology available. Wallets are fine, and they have their uses, but Lightning’s off-chain operations open the door to some new technologies. At Breez, we use technology to stay on top of new developments and to dissolve the barriers between different solutions.

For example, Breez integrates Submarine Swaps to let users transfer funds from their existing bitcoin wallets into their Breez clients, whose day-to-day operations are off chain. Even better, Breez automatically backs up to Google Drive, sparing users the need to remember mnemonics or private keys. (Of course, iCloud backup will come with the iOS roll out, which is coming soon.)

The planned Breez HQ. (We just need to agree on the countertops.) [Source: Kellepics]

Breez isn’t just focused on the n00bs. The specialist community that has built bitcoin should remain part of its development. That’s why we publish Breez’s open-source code on GitHub. We aim to bring bitcoin to the masses, but we need informed input to get there.

Another group of users we want to integrate are the merchants. When consumers go to market with bitcoin, they need somewhere to spend it. Breez offers merchants a number of innovations to help ease their way into the bitcoin economy. One example is the Breez card, which will soon make sending a payment request as easy as waving an NFC card. Another is the NFC point-of-sale app. Instead of investing in new, proprietary hardware, merchants can simply install the PoS app onto an Android mobile device, even their personal phones. (For more on the soon-to-be-released PoS app, see Breez’s GitHub.)

And to give users the fastest possible way to spend their bitcoin, Breez has an in-app marketplace where users can go shopping right away. Breez is proud to count Bitrefill among its partners, letting users pay bills, buy gift cards, top up their phones, and shop over the leading e-commerce platforms.

Breez lets you use bitcoin without thinking about it.

How to Get Started?

The open beta of the Breez mobile client runs on any 64-bit Android mobile device, and it’s available from the Google Play store. Download it to enjoy the ease of fiat and the freedom of bitcoin.