Sending Cryptocurrency To Email

Even if the recipient doesn’t have a wallet yet

When PayPal started, they allowed to send money to an email address of another PayPal user. Users didn’t have to exchange any wallet numbers prior to payment. Another smart move: this worked even if the recipient was not a PayPal user yet. He was prompted to sign up and instantly take the money.

In cryptocurrencies, we are still sending payments to cryptic addresses like 1BtjAzWGLyAavUkbw3QsyzzNDKdtPXk95D or TKT4UESIKTTRALRRLWS4SENSTJX6ODCW, the recipient has to be already in the system, and we need to ask him about his address. And after a payment is sent, there is no easy way to tell who was the recipient. Not quite user friendly for mass adoption.

Now, this is going to change.

With the release of Byteball wallet version 2.0, Byteball users can send Bytes to email. Even if the recipient is not in Byteball yet.

The sender just writes an email address where he would normally write a Byteball address:

When he hits “Send”, his email app is opened with prefilled text for the recipient. The sender can edit it before sending.

The recipient receives an email like this:

He clicks the link and the money is added to his balance. If he doesn’t have a wallet yet, he is prompted to install in order to receive the money.

Simple as hell.

When PayPal was starting, email was the only wide spread method of P2P communication over the Internet. Now we have a lot more options, some of them are even more convenient, especially on mobiles.

When the sender is on a mobile phone and switches to “Share via message” tab (see the screenshot above), he is able to use all the options available through the phone’s standard “Share” menu: text message, Telegram, WhatsApp, WeChat, Signal, Viber, Slack, Facebook Messenger, Skype, etc. The recipient receives the same link, but through a chat app.

In any case, the money is delivered through text media, that’s why we call it textcoin.

On the technical part, the link which is delivered contains a BIP39 mnemonic (we use dashes instead of spaces to avoid confusion with wallet seed). Only one address, with path m/44'/0'/0'/0/0, is generated from the mnemonic, the coins are actually sent to this address. When the recipient claims the funds, his wallet restores the private key from the mnemonic (everything happens in the background and looks instantaneous), and sweeps the entire balance from this address to one of his own addresses.

Double fee has to be paid, first to fill the temporary address where the money is stored in transit, then to sweep its balance. The sender adds a small amount to cover the fees spent when sweeping. So, the amount displayed in the email or text message is the exact net amount. This is to make it clearer for the recipient, especially when he is new to crypto.

The textcoins might be delivered through insecure media, such as emails or unencrypted chats. That’s why it is recommended to use them only for small amounts or through end-to-end encrypted chats, such as Signal, WhatsApp, and iMessage.

If the sender makes a mistake in the email address or chooses a wrong recipient, the money is not lost. The sender can claim the money back using the same mnemonic. It is saved in the wallet for such occasions, and a “claim back” link is available on transaction details page.

This is like PayPal but with one important difference. The money is not kept in custody of PayPal or any other third party. The money is sent directly, from sender to recipient, peer-to-peer, in the spirit of crypto.