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A technical overview of AgnostiPay

AgnostiPay is a open source high-level payment protocol that enables simple and complex payment transactions in a decentralised manner. Our primary goal is to provide a value-agnostic technology stack that supports p2p/account2account (a2a) payments, with a focus on end-user control and privacy.

To achieve this goal, we offer an SDK that can run both client and server-side. Software running this SDK are called nodes. End-users can add all their financial service providers, such as banks or wallets, to their node using personal API keys. AgnostiPay does not have a central system or register of (end-)users, but companies like webshops or end-users themselves can run these nodes to facilitate value transactions, such as payments or conversions.

Transactions are defined and described inside the 'Playbook'. This is a data object that is shared and signed by nodes. A playbook can be seen as a contract between nodes and a set of instructions regarding the transactions. It is updated and signed every time a transaction status is changed.

We differentiate between agnostic and non-agnostic transactions. Agnostic transactions are always between two or more nodes and enjoy the full arsenal of the AgnostiPay features. Examples are p2p/a2a transactions, 1-click-payments, event-based transactions such as auto top-up, subscriptions, last-mile payments and delegated transactions.

When one of the transaction parties is not an AgnostiPay node, only non-agnostic transactions are possible. They are used in for example webshops for white label payment options, such as iDeal, Bankcontact, or Credit cards, and one sided playbook-enabled transactions, such as event/condition-based transactions.

Nodes use playbooks to share and sign transactions with other nodes. Providers act as plugins to the nodes and connect financial service providers via end-user credentials to execute the transactions. Federated services are part of the AgnostiPay ecosystem, but run external - maybe closed source or central hosted - and can be added by a user to their node to help build trust - like an additional KYC service - or increase convenience - like a name service.

Online transfer of value in 2023

Wire transfers have existed for 150 years, credit cards since the 1920s, and SWIFT has been used for transferring money for almost 50 years. However, internet banking is relatively new since it is only extensively used for the last two decades. With the advent of Web3 technology in 2014, a less centralised technology was created for money transfer, payments and investments outside of the existing financial services network. In the upcoming years, we expect that these paradigms will increase to blend together. Links between the Web3 and fiat worlds are becoming more apparent in the shape of exchanges, protocols and connecting ledgers - such as Interledger and IBC.

For online payments, many payment processors and middlemen have emerged to help offload the burden for both consumers and companies. The first notable example is Paypal which facilitates transfers of value between parties directly when they have a connected bank account or credit card. Today, payment service providers - such as Stripe, Mollie, and Adyen - are dominating the e-commerce landscape by handling everything payment related. They can help you deal with payments across multiple domains and ledgers and even handle invoicing, billing and taxes.

However, all of these services are ‘walled gardens’ and extremely costly (Lago). Even in the web3 world, an increasingly larger amount of value is locked in exchanges. The owner of the account can only enter the walled garden through a portal or app protecting this garden. Open banking regulations, such as PSD2 (European Parliament/Council) in Europe, have aimed to change this with a push to provide owners of the accounts the ability to directly control and manage their accounts. Additionally, there is also a market-driven push for openness which is being spearheaded by fintech companies in countries like the US, Japan, and Singapore (Deloitte). This, combined with real-time transferred payments (‘instant payments’), has opened the way for a new, open-source payment service provider that is controlled by the end-users themselves.