TL;DR we’re launching RLS to power the future of payments on the Internet.

At River we believe that Bitcoin is on a trajectory to become the reserve currency of the world. To date, we have been focused on building financial products to help our clients establish and grow their Bitcoin wealth to prepare them for this monetary future. For most of our clients, Bitcoin is an investment, and a bet that this currency will play a key role in the future of our civilization.

However, for many people around the world Bitcoin is not purely an investment, it’s an increasingly important tool that enables them to save and transact online. Bitcoin is beginning to cross the chasm from a store of value to a transactional currency.

One of the main drivers behind this trend is the Lightning Network. The Lightning Network makes it technically and economically feasible for the world’s commerce to be transacted via Bitcoin without sacrificing decentralization (to learn about how this works, read this River Learn article). Over the last few years, the capacity of the Lightning Network and associated payment volume has been increasing exponentially. was the first financial institution in the United States to support Lightning Network deposits and withdrawals for clients. This was mostly a fun hobby project for us in the beginning, but as we scaled, our Lightning Network infrastructure started to become quite serious. Last year we realized that this infrastructure and our operational expertise might be useful for other firms looking to integrate Lightning functionality into their applications, so we covertly built a public API for it. Since then, we have onboarded some incredible organizations to this API. One of these is El Salvador’s Chivo wallet, for whom we have been proudly powering Lightning transactions for almost a year.

Today we are proud to announce this product publicly under the name River Lightning Services (RLS). The vision of RLS is to power the future of payments on the Internet, starting with Bitcoin and eventually supporting dollars and other assets over Lightning as the Taro project matures. If you’re a developer and just want to see the docs, go here.

RLS is built by developers for developers. We want to make integrating Lightning transaction functionality into your applications as easy as possible. To that end we have abstracted away all of the complexity (and on-call rotations) of nodes and channels to allow developers to focus on what matters most: serving their customers.

When onboarding with RLS you are given an account that you can fund to and sweep from on-chain. Processing LN withdrawals is as easy as making an API call with an invoice to be paid. You can easily generate invoices for deposits and we will notify your system via webhook when an invoice is paid.

We have many powerful features on the RLS product roadmap. If you run an exchange, wallet, merchant payment processing platform, or other institution that is interested in integrating with Lightning, please reach out via contact form on the RLS homepage. We will be in touch shortly and are excited to partner with you to make Lightning payments accessible to more people around the world!