This year has been a milestone for open-source development, as more organizations have contributed funds by way of grants and sponsorships.Supporting the open-source community continues to be a priority for OKCoin, which has enabled us to sponsor the development of the very infrastructure that we depend on as a crypto exchange. Our commitment to free and open-source software, or FOSS, has led us to provide three additional grants so far in 2020. Announced on Aug. 6, our most recent grant was awarded to Marco Falke, a Bitcoin Core maintainer and the most active contributor to the Bitcoin code since 2017.
Sponsoring development of crypto infrastructure
It’s been six months since we announced our first developer grant to a Bitcoin Core developer. In those months, we’ve witnessed the fallout from a global COVID-19 pandemic, and the strange and contrasting impact it has had on global communities and markets. While the general public has been pessimistic, experiencing hardship and loss, equity markets have been rising, with the Federal Reserve significantly increasing the money supply. These flaws in the existing economic systems have only served to further solidify the importance of cryptocurrency and Bitcoin (BTC) as an alternative, “sound” currency.
We’ve also been inspired to heighten our role in supporting the open-source development of cryptocurrency infrastructure. Collectively, OKCoin has now provided over $500,000 in grants to open-source developers. Having provided these grants, we’ve been pleased to see other organizations get involved in supporting Bitcoin Core developer sponsorship as well.
FOSS sponsorship is growing
We’re excited to see the level of interest increase among a varied group of organizations, each of which views crypto from a different perspective. Optionality and partnership are very important in maintaining the independence of the developer community. This is why we partnered with BitMEX on our recent grant to Amiti Uttarwar, who has made strides in her work on Bitcoin’s peer-to-peer layer. Uttarwar’s contributions have strengthened Bitcoin Core, making the codebase more secure for everyone sending transactions.
Stronger infrastructure for “sound” money
Money is the foundation of our society, and OKCoin is committed to building crypto for the long run. Therefore, we think it’s a natural concept for us to support the developers who contribute to making Bitcoin a stronger candidate as “sound” money. We’ve continued to focus on supporting Bitcoin Core with our latest sponsorships because we see great externality in Bitcoin Core. The development of Bitcoin supports the entire industry in the forms of education, validation and adoption.
There may be many different versions in the future where crypto is impactful, but one of the most exciting versions may have a distributed and trustless monetary system, for example, Bitcoin, as a fundamental layer. On top of the new monetary system, a distributed and trustless financial system and a distributed and trustless society could emerge. To do that, Bitcoin needs to scale. Fabian Jahr, OKCoin’s first grant recipient, worked on accelerating remote procedure calls in the UTXO set — this is just one example of the direct impact developers have on building essential Bitcoin infrastructure. Bitcoin’s success is our success, so we don’t see developer grants as an obligation or as a donation. We see these grants as an investment in our future. Free and open-source software benefits everyone, and supporting it is particularly critical in crypto.
An open network of knowledge
Connecting with and backing Bitcoin developers has been a community effort, with a lot of knowledge shared among sponsors. Chaincode and Square Crypto have been very helpful to our efforts at OKCoin, and in order to strengthen this initiative, we’ve been happy to share what we’ve learned through the process with Kraken and others. While not all grants are done in partnership, sponsoring open-source development is ultimately a collaborative initiative. We’ve been open about what we’ve learned because we believe it’s healthy to build a community sponsorship matrix for FOSS development.
Incentivizing open-source developers
The funding model that exists today for open-source work is based on corporate grants and financial backing. While corporate objectives may align with the work that FOSS developers are focused on, the credibility of their contributions to decentralized networks relies on their ability to function autonomously while being financially supported. We believe that allowing developers to do their work without conditions improves the quality of full-time developers committed to open-source development and ensures that the community of developers operates collectively and transparently. It’s on us as an industry to ensure that the right incentives are in place to attract and keep the best talent to help grow Bitcoin and the crypto industry.
Just as companies are continuously developing, so too is the Bitcoin codebase. There is still much work to be done, and it’s important that the organizations that rely on the infrastructure support this work. It also matters how financial backing is provided; without strings attached, allowing developers to focus on what they believe is most crucial. We’re proud to have sponsored three independent developers and the BTCPay Server project and look forward to continuing to support the open-source community.