Lightning Labs has published its draft specification for Lightning Service Authentication Tokens (LSAT) — a protocol standard that promises to redefine online payments through employing a little known HTTP status code.

According to a March 30 blog post authored by Lightning Labs CTO Olaoluwa Osuntokun, LSAT facilitates automated logins and payments using cryptographic credentials — doing away with the current system of credit cards, usernames, and passwords.

LSAT leverages 402 error code

Osuntokun states that the LSAT protocol leverages the “widely underused” HTTP 402 ‘payment required’ status code. 

The 402 error is returned when a user attempts to access a web page that they have not paid for. Wikipedia reports the code is “reserved for future use” and that it was originally intended to be used by a digital payment system, despite no form of digital cash existing when the specification was drafted.

Crypto commentator Marty Bent called it a ‘huge breakthrough’, writing:

“When the Internet was originally designed, specifically HTTP, the architects envisioned that there would be a native payments layer built into the system. However, at the time, there was not a suitable digital cash system in existence that made this easy. Thus, the HTTP 402, or ‘Payment Required’ status code has practically never been used.”

LSAT will spur a ‘new web’

Osuntokun asserts that LSAT will power a “new web” in which “cryptographic bearer credentials” are purchased by users to access services — doing away with the current system of email addresses and passwords for accessing content online:

“In this new web, credit cards no longer serve as a gatekeeper to all the amazing experiences that have been created on the web. LSATs enable the creation of a new more global, more private, more developer friendly web.”

Bent agrees the potential is “massive”. “LSAT turns very manual processes into automatic API calls made by wallets, mobile apps, browsers, and extensions,” he wrote. “If brought to fruition and widely adopted, this will provide an incredible amount of utility for developers and users alike.”

Alongside LSAT, Lightning Labs is launching ‘Aperture’ — described as “an HTTP 402 LSAT reverse proxy” that can be used to “upgrade an existing web resource or API to make It LSAT-enabled, creating a portal from the existing web to the new Lightning-native web.”