Payment Pointers are a standardized identifier for payment accounts. In the same way that an email address provides an identifier for a mailbox in the email ecosystem a payment pointer is used by an account holder to share the details of their account with a counter-party.
A Payment Pointer resolves to a URL (with the https scheme) that can be used to discover the Open Payments endpoints for interacting with the account. Using the Open Payments protocol the counter-party can initiate a payment to or from the owner of the Payment Pointer.
Payment Pointers start with a
$ character to distinguish them from other identifiers and make it obvious that they are related to payments. To convert a Payment Pointer to a URL the
$ is replaced with the standard prefix of a secure URL,
When making or a receiving a payment, a user passes a Payment Pointer to the counter-party who resolves the corresponding URL.
For most use cases the counter-party will extract the origin from the URL and append the path
/.well-known/open-payments to form the URL of the Open Payments server meta-data endpoint.
To avoid unnecessary network requests when doing Web Monetization the client skips this step and uses the Payment Pointer URL as the Web Monetization endpoint.