Raiden is a network agnostic protocol. Protocol messages can in general be transferred over any network, e.g. ip, mesh networks, etc., where the only requirement is access to an Ethereum node. For efficient and reliable messaging, the reference implementation of Raiden currently only supports Matrix, an open standard for peer-to-peer messaging based on a server federation.


  • Unicast Messages

  • Broadcast Messages

  • E2E encryption for unicast messages

  • Authentication (i.e. messages should be linkable to an Ethereum account)

  • Low latency (~100ms)

  • Scalability

  • Spam protection / Sybil Attack resistance

  • Decentralization (no single point of failure / censorship resistance)

  • Off the shelf solution, well maintained

  • JS + Python SDK

  • Open Source / Open Protocol

Current Solution: Federation of Matrix Homeservers

Matrix is a federated open source messaging system, which supports group communication (multicast) via chat rooms. Direct messages are modeled as 2 participants in a private chat room. Homeservers can be extended with custom logic (application services, password providers) e.g. to enforce certain rules (or message formats) in a room. It provides JS and Python bindings and communication is done via REST API and HTTP long polling.

Use in Raiden


The identity verification MUST not be tied to Matrix identities. Even though Matrix provides an identity system, it is a possible central point of failure. All state-changing messages passed between participants MUST be signed using the private key of the ethereum account, using Matrix only as a transport layer.

The messages MUST be validated using ecrecover by receiving parties.

The conventions below provide the means for the discovery process, and affect only the transport layer (thus not tying the whole stack to Matrix).


A Matrix userId is required to be of the form @<eth-address>:<homeserver-uri>, an @, followed by the lowercased 0x prefixed ethereum address of the node and the homeserver uri, separated from the username by a colon.

To prevent malicious name squatting all Matrix servers joining the Raiden federation must enforce the following rules:

  1. Account registration must be disabled

  2. A password provider that ensures only users in control of the private key corresponding to their node address can log in. This is done by using an ec-recoverable signature of the server name the Raiden node is connecting to (without any protocol prefix) as the password. The password provider must verify the following:

    1. The user-id matches the format described above.

    2. The homeserver_uri part of the user-id matches the local hostname.

    3. The password is a valid 0x prefixed, hex encoded ec-recoverable signature of the local hostname.

    4. The recovered address matches the eth-address part of the user-id.

  3. Every Raiden node must set it’s Matrix displayName to a 0x prefixed hex encoded ec-recoverable signature of their complete user-id.


username = web3.eth.defaultAccount  # 0-left-padded
# 0xaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
password = web3.eth.sign(server_uri)
matrix.login_with_password(username, password)
userid = "@" + username + ":" + server_uri

Discovery & Presence

Discovery and presence (online/offline status of participants) is currently handled by the Pathfinding Services (“PFS”): A PFS connects to all known Matrix home servers and gathers the userId and presence status of all users connected to the corresponding home server. The matrix server needs to give the connected services special permission to be able to receive the presences of the connected matrix-clients. A compliant homeserver should only grant those permissions to services that are registered on the blockchain.

With the combined information of all avaible home servers, a PFS can construct a global view of all particpant’s online statuses and user-ids and provide this information to nodes of the Raiden network.

The Raiden nodes will need this information for peer-to-peer (“P2P”) communication, especially adjacent nodes on the graph of payment channels will require knowledge of each other’s discovery and presence information.

A Raiden node interested in the peer’s transport information should be able to either query this information for free at a specific endpoint at a PFS or receive this information as part of a paid path-request for all nodes along the returned path.

Since it would be infeasible for each node along a payment path to query a peer’s information during the transfer individually, the initiator should retrieve discovery and presence information along a payment’s route once, and include it in the transfer’s metadata. Like that, all nodes along the path can extract the necessary peer’s information and avoid an explicit request to the PFS.

Sending transfer messages to other nodes

There are two different ways to send messages between Raiden nodes:

  • Matrix toDevice P2P messages

  • Messages over WebRTC channels

Matrix toDevice messages

Matrix supports so-called toDevice messages. These are not stored permanently as part of a shared communication history and are delivered exactly once to each client device.

As Raiden does not rely on the messaging history, this feature can be used for P2P communication between nodes as well as communication between nodes and services.

The ability to handle and send Matrix based P2P messages is a requirement for a functioning node.

Node to node communication

P2P communication for Raiden protocol messages is done via Matrix to-device messages. The message sending node needs to know the recipient node’s current userId (and therefore implicitly the node’s current homeserver), either from a direct request to the PFS, or from address-metadata provided from a previous node (see Discovery & Presence).

Nodes are expected to set their deviceId to RAIDEN, so that clients sending toDevice messages have to specify RAIDEN as the target deviceId.

Broadcast from node to services

Raiden nodes will push some updates about their state to the Raiden services: they can broadcast a MonitoringRequest to the Monitoring Services (“MS”) when they go offline. A Monitoring Service will then submit their balance proof on their behalf. A node can also publish a PFSCapacityUpdate and PFSFeeUpdate to the PFSes. With this information the PFSes can compute efficient routes throughout the network and provide these routes to requesting nodes.

On the transport level, this one-way flow of information is conceptually a broadcast from the node to all services of a specific kind. Internally, the broadcast is implemented as several individual to-device messages to all services of a specific kind. Here, the userId of each service registered on-chain is constructed deterministically from the node, so that:

"@<address registered on-chain>:<home server of sender's raiden node>"

Also, the deviceId has to be set to PATH_FINDING for messages to the PFSes and to MONITORING for messages to the MSes.

The services therefore have to have one Matrix client listening and registered per registered transport server and the deviceId of those clients has to be set to PATH_FINDING or MONITORING accordingly.

WebRTC messaging

To further optimize the communication, exchanging messages in a peer-to-peer manner is possible with WebRTC. In that case matrix is only used to initiate the WebRTC connection via P2P toDevice messages, and successive communication between nodes is handled over a webRTC data-channel.

Nodes that support WebRTC messages signal this functionality with the webRTC capability. The requirement is optional, but lack thereof will reduce transfer speeds significantly.

To establish a WebRTC data-channel with another peer, the clients are expected to:

  1. Get peer’s presence/address-metadata information, either from a PFS’s specific endpoint or from a passing-through LockedTransfer

  2. Verify that the peer has webRTC capability

  3. Signaling messages are sent to peer’s userId using toDevice matrix messages, with type as (even though it’s not in a Matrix room) and content as { "msgtype": "m.notice", "body": <payload> }, where payload is the JSON-encoded string of an object in the format { "type": <signal_type>, "call_id": <dataChannel.label>, ...<rest of payload> }

  4. In parallel, start a call of its own, and also listen for calls/offers from peers of interest:

    1. On the caller side:

      1. create a RTCPeerConnection and a dataChannel on it, with whatever label is desired, to uniquely identify this channel upon related messages (e.g. <0xCaller_address>|<0xCallee_address>|<timestamp>)

      2. start listening for ICECandidates on this connection, and send them to peer, with type="candidates" and a candidates payload member containing an array with the gathered candidates

      3. create an offer, set it as local description on connecting, and send it to the peer with type="offer" and a sdp payload member containing the offer string

      4. wait for an answer message from peer, and upon receiving it, set it as remote description; RTCDataChannel should then become open

      5. a timeout may be put, to retry if neither this call nor callee’s side managed to get a channel opened

    2. On the callee side:

      1. listen for offer messages

      2. when receiving an offer message from a peer of interest, create an RTCPeerConnection and set offer as remote description

      3. start listening for ICECandidates on this connection, and send it to peer, the same as on caller’s side

      4. create answer, set it as local description and send it to peer, with type="answer" and sdp payload member containing the answer string

      5. wait for dataChannel to be emitted and to become open

      6. listening for offers on callee is permanent and any new offer coming through, if successful, may disconnect previous callee or caller channels

  5. Both caller and callee’s codepaths can race; the winner of this race (first channel to become open) for each pair of peers (by address) will disconnect the other direction, and this now-open RTCDataChannel will be kept and used for this partner’s messaging

  6. Upon channel error or close, peers may send a type="hangup" message, without additional payload members, and then possibly retry the loop above

  7. Clients may retry whenever they want, if the peer is online; any new open RTC channel for each peer disconnects the previous one; usually, it’s ok to retry this just a couple of times and give up, as partner seems to be offline or not responding, and assume they’ll call when they come back online; additionally, they may trigger the loop again upon certain events, as new raiden ChannelOpen is detected or a message needs to be sent


Raiden clients need a way to signal their capabilities to other nodes. This is done by encoding the capabilities in the avatar_url field of the user profile.

Serialization for use in avatar_url

The following template is used to encode the capabilities in the avatar URL field:


Here {capabilities_url_encoded} is the url query parameter encoding of the capabilities.

Rules for url encoding:

  • boolean values are encoded as truthy values, e.g. "0" and "1"

  • other values are encoded as strings

  • lists of values are allowed


The final interpretation of capability values is up to the receiving client, or rather the specified capability. It’s expected that clients use truthiness of the supplied value when decoding boolean values.

Handling of unknown values

  • Intentionally omitting (falsy or whatever) known default values is discouraged. Client implementations are asked to explicitly state all known capabilities.

  • Client implementations have to deal with receiving new/unknown capabilities gracefully, i.e. they should expect the peer to act backwards compatible.

  • Client implementations have to deal with not receiving known capabilities gracefully, i.e. assume the peer implementation is going to exert legacy behavior and therefore act backwards compatible.


avatar_url = "mxc://"
capabilities_decoded = {
    'Delivered': False,
    'Mediate': True,
    'Receive': True,
    'webRTC': True,
    'toDevice': True,
    'immutableMetadata': True,
    'list_capability': ['one', 'two']