Skip to content


Various Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) schemes can be used to identify a user account at a service provider. However, no standard identifier exists to identify a user's payment account at a service provider.

While popular URIs could be re-used as payment account identifiers, these identifiers are insufficient because they are typically recognized as supporting functionality unique to those schemes. For example, the 'mailto' scheme [RFC6068][] is broadly deployed for messaging. Re-using this identifier for payments would likely cause confusion because one desirable quality of a payment account identifier is that it expressly does not support messaging, in order to avoid spam and/or other security concerns such as phishing attacks.

Deploying payment protocols on top of identifiers that are commonly employed for other use-cases would likely be a mis-use of those identifiers, and could also cause confusion for end-users, among other problems.

Instead, the 'payid' scheme defines an identifier that is intended to identify accounts for payment use-cases only.


The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "NOT RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119][].


The syntax of the 'payid' URI scheme is defined in Section 7 of this document.

A 'payid' URI identifies a payment account hosted at a service provider, and is designed for payment account identification rather than interaction, as discussed in section 1.2.2 of [RFC3986].

A 'payid' URI is constructed by taking a user's payment account identifier at a service provider and using that value as the 'acctpart'. The 'host' portion is then set to the DNS domain name of the service provider that provides the 'payid'.

To compare two 'payid' URIs, case normalization and percent-encoding normalization (as specified in sections and of [RFC3986]) MUST be employed before performing any comparison.

In addition, a 'payid' is case-insensitive and therefore should be normalized to lowercase. For example, the URI "PAYID:aLICE$" is equivalent to "payid:alice$".

Note that both the 'acctpart' and 'host' components of a 'payid' may contain one or more dollar-sign characters. However, because a 'host' SHOULD also be a valid DNS domain, that portion of a 'payid' will generally not include a dollar-sign. Therefore, applications SHOULD always search for the last dollar-sign when attempting to parse a 'payid' URI into its two component parts.


As an example, a user with an account name of "apollo" at a wallet service "" can be identified by a URI using the 'payid' scheme via the following construction:


One possible PayID scenario is for an account to be registered with a payment service provider using an identifier that is associated with some other service provider. For example, a user with the email address "" might register with a wallet website whose domain name is "". In order to facilitate payments to/from Alice, the wallet service provider might offer Alice a PayID using Alice's email address (though using an email address as a PayID is not recommended). In order to use Alice's email address as the 'acctpart' of the 'payid' URI, no percent-encoding is necessary because the 'acctpart' portion of a PayID allows for at-signs. Thus, the provisioned 'payid' URI for Alice would be "$shoppingsite.example".

Another possible scenario is where a payment service provider (e.g., a digital wallet) provides its users with PayIDs that are associated with the PayIDs of another service provider. For example, a user with the PayID "alice$" might register with a wallet website whose domain name is "". In order to use the bank's PayID as the acctpart of the wallet's 'payid' URI, no percent-encoding is necessary because the 'acctpart' portion of a PayID allows for dollar-signs. Therefore, the resulting 'payid' URI would be "payid:alice$bank.example$wallet.example".

The following example URIs illustrate several variations of PayIDs and their common syntax components:




Security Concerns

The 'payid' URI scheme defined in this document does not directly enable interaction with a user's payment account and therefore does not present any direct security concerns.

However, a 'payid' URI indicates existence of a payment account, so care should be taken to properly secure any payment account interactions allowed by a service provider.

In addition, service providers and users should consider whether an attacker might be able to derive or infer other identifiers correlating to the user of any particular PayID. For example, replacing the $ character in a PayID with an @ sign SHOULD NOT yield a 'mailto' URI, when possible. In addition, care should be taken when the 'acctpart' of a PayID corresponds to a user's email address (in part or in whole) as this might allow an attacker to execute phishing attacks or send spam messages.

Due to the use of percent-encoding in 'payid' URIs, implementers SHOULD disallow percent-encoded characters or sequences that would result in "space", "null", "control", or other characters that are otherwise forbidden.

Internationalization Concerns

As specified in [RFC3986], the 'payid' URI scheme allows any character from the Unicode repertoire [Unicode] encoded as UTF-8 [RFC3629] and then percent-encoded into valid ASCII [RFC0020]. Before applying any percent-encoding, an application MUST ensure the following about the string that is used as input to the URI-construction process:

  • The 'acctpart' consists only of Unicode code points that conform to the PRECIS IdentifierClass specified in [RFC8264].

  • The 'host' consists only of Unicode code points that conform to the rules specified in [RFC5892].

  • Internationalized domain name (IDN) labels are encoded as A-labels [RFC5890].

IANA Considerations

In accordance with [RFC7595], this section provides the information needed to register the 'payid' URI scheme.

URI Scheme Name: payid

Status: permanent

URI Scheme Syntax: The 'payid' URI syntax is defined here in Augmented Backus-Naur Form (ABNF) per [RFC5234], borrowing the 'host' and 'path' rules from [RFC3986]:

  payidURI   = "payid" ":" acctpart "$" host
  acctpart   = path

Note that additional rules limit the characters that can be percent-encoded in a 'payid' URI. See "Encoding Considerations" below for more details.

URI Scheme Semantics: The 'payid' URI scheme identifies payment accounts hosted at payment service providers. It is used only for identification, not interaction.

Encoding Considerations: See Section 6 of this document.

Applications/Protocols That Use This URI Scheme Name: The following protocols utilize this URI scheme:


Interoperability Considerations: n/a.

Security Considerations: See Section 6 of this document.


Author/Change Controller: TBD.

References: None.


This document was adapted from and heavily influenced by [RFC7565][], modifying it (in some cases only slightly) for a payments use-case. The author would like to acknowledge the contributions of everyone who worked on that and related specifications.

In addition, the author would like to acknowledge everyone who provided feedback and use-cases for this derivative specification.