Oct 23, 2023

Announcing the Universal Money Address (UMA) open-source standard

Announcing the Universal Money Address (UMA) open-source standard

  • Just like email, but for money
  • Connects regulated financial institutions and payments providers across borders
  • Uses Bitcoin’s Lightning Network for global settlement with messaging to support endpoints in any currency

October 23, 2023. The Universal Money Address (UMA) standard is a new open-source standard. It combines human-readable Lightning Addresses and enhanced messaging services with the Lightning Network’s real-time, global payment rails to make sending money as easy as sending an email. 

UMA enables near-instant, secure, and open payments in any currency. UMA extends the capabilities of Lightning and LNURL to add messaging support for compliance and fiat currency FX. These additional features, combined with the Lightning Network's near real-time capabilities and the global liquidity profile of Bitcoin, will enable people worldwide to send and receive money at low cost.  

This is the start of the journey. Over the next few months, several wallets, exchanges, and banks will implement the UMA standard and enable their customers to claim their unique personalized addresses and begin to send and receive cross-border payments.

Bitnob, Coins.ph, Foxbit, Ripio, and Xapo Bank will offer UMAs to their customers and already have waitlists on their websites. Together, these service providers support millions of people in many countries. Consumers can sign up now at uma.me to be informed when a wallet, exchange, or bank supporting the UMA standard goes live and is available in their country.

Infrastructure platforms Bakkt and Zero Hash also plan to offer UMA solutions to their enterprise customers - providing services for businesses that want to integrate UMA-powered real-time, low-cost, cross-border payments into their products.

How UMA Works

An UMA looks just like an email. When using an UMA and an UMA-powered account, people can send and receive money 24/7 in near real-time in their chosen currency. While the UMA standard uses the Bitcoin Lightning Network for settlement, consumers can send and receive in any currency supported by their UMA-enabled account.

UMA uses ‘human-readable’ Lightning Addresses, which are easy to remember and share. People can claim their unique address with their favorite wallet, exchange, or bank. Just like emails, UMAs are interoperable; all that's needed is for both recipients to have an UMA-enabled wallet. People can select their preferred currency for UMA via their service provider, so whenever they receive a payment - from small to large amounts - it's in the currency they want.

For Digital Wallets, Exchanges, and Banks

The UMA open standard creates opportunities for new business models and revenue streams, enabling exchanges and wallets to offer new payment solutions to their customers. There is also a simple invite system that participants can use to onboard their family and friends to UMA.

UMA provides secure messaging about necessary transaction terms, enabling payment senders to display and approve FX conversion and transaction fees. UMA also facilitates the exchange of compliance information so regulated service providers can meet compliance obligations, including anti-money laundering, economic sanctions, transaction monitoring, and the travel rule.

Features and Benefits:

  • Interoperability across UMA-Enabled Accounts: UMA is designed for interoperability. Exchanges, wallets, and banks can integrate the UMA standard to facilitate instant, low-cost payments on the Lightning Network. An UMA user can send to any other UMA user at any other UMA-enabled exchange, wallet, or bank.
  • Real-time, Instant, Global Settlement:  24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year over the Lightning Network.
  • Low Cost: UMA enables lower-cost cross-border payments over the Lightning Network.
  • Currency Agnostic: While service providers settle transactions in bitcoin over the Lightning Network, the UMA standard enables service providers to coordinate payments for their customers in any currency they support.
  • Personalized: businesses can generate UMAs using any company domain, like emails.

Learn more: UMA is open-sourced to everyone - and developers and businesses can adopt and build on the standard. Explore the documentation (docs.uma.me) and SDK GitHub repositories in Python, Go, Rust, Kotlin/Java, and Typescript/Javascript