2 years have now passed since the infamous tweet that encouraged me to write the first line of code for BTCPay Server. As some of you may already know from the numerous podcasts I have done; at this point in time, I truly feared that Bitcoin was in danger. Not because of any fundamental flaws in the base layer, but because everyone was relying on third-parties to build on top of Bitcoin. 2 years ago today, I swore to make these third-party services obsolete.
It is possible to build centralized systems on top of decentralized ones. This was basically the only option at the time. I blamed Bitcoin Core for not having a good enough API to handle the most common scenarios that the industry needed at the time. As a result of this, the void was filled by third-party providers such as blockchain.info, BitPay or blockcypher. All these services were delivering real value by making it easy to build your own service on top of Bitcoin. Anyone who tried to use the Bitcoin Core API and who did not really care about decentralization would not take any second thought about using easier centralized alternative.
I did not blame those centralized parties who saw a need in the market, filled this gap and made a profit out of it. Nor did I blame the people who put their own interest above Bitcoin by using third-party providers. I don’t believe anymore that Bitcoin Core should be to blame either. Bitcoin Core should be as minimalist as possible as it is very costly to make any change due to the amount of review it requires. I think Bitcoin core should focus on providing access to its internals of anything that is hard to get right (such as mempool state and validation).
The problem to solve at the time was: how do we ensure that individuals can act on behalf of their companies best interest whilst also ensuring that bitcoin becomes more, rather than less, secure. In other words; how do we make these third-party services threatening Bitcoin, obsolete.
BitPay was, in my mind, the number one threat to the security of bitcoin at the time. I am proud to say today that this threat is no longer present.
BitPay itself ended up focusing their efforts trying to appeal to any business which does not really have skin in the game for Bitcoin. This made room for other centralized payment processors to fill the void (OpenNode, Globee, CoinPayments, Blockonomics, Strike, CoinGate) to name a few. There is now an explosion of self-hosted easy self-hostable infrastructures (BTCPay of course, but also Electrum Personal Server, NBXplorer, Esplora and many other). Therefore, new services no longer have to rely on third-party services, the self-hosted solutions are easier to use, put your in control and don’t require your credit card and personal information.
To top it off; centralized payment processors face enormous difficulties when expanding globally due to compliance and regulation while self-hosting open-source solutions thrives across borders with no such issues. While centralized payment processors spend countless hours complying with regulations, we can put our full efforts into expanding and growing without the need to ask for permission.
If BitPay were to attempt an attack on the Bitcoin network today, we would simply shrug at it. Not only do they no longer have a monopoly on the market, but their own customers are now mainly indifferent to Bitcoin. For better or worse, only those who are not indifferent to Bitcoin have enough energy to make a difference.
Bitcoin will be the standard of international wealth transfer or payments because it has been built specifically to work around the biggest friction that all alternative systems still need to comply with: the need to ask for permission. If your business or product is built to leverage Bitcoin but needs permission, you are like a sailor trying to sail against the wind. Increasing the size of the sail will not work, it will only make the resistance bigger. The main objective of BTCPay was to make sure centralized services are no longer the default choice for building your business. I think we succeeded.
To elaborate on the sailing metaphor, BTCPay enjoyed a powerful tailwind with our enthusiastic contributors. We are very thankful to all who contribute to the project and the task at hand. Thank you for continuously spending your time and making sure individuals and businesses worldwide can have an open future without barriers.
But we are reaching a limit; it has been a full-time job to channel this energy so that it does not go to waste or is ignored. We need to take advantage of our tailwind and get a bigger sail. We have a plan on how to do this without compromising one satoshi on the ideals that make you love this project.
On September 16th (a day after the HoneyBadger conference), we are organizing a BTCPay Day. Here I will do a presentation and reveal and outline how we plan to sustain and further develop BTCPay in the future. Stay tuned; we have a great journey ahead of us and we cannot wait to show you where it is going.
Apart from myself, many of our contributors will be attending and doing presentations and workshops. This whole-day event, dedicated to BTCPay, will be held in CryptoCash office (Elizabetes iela22, Rīga, LV) in the city center. We will provide more details very soon.
Whether you’re coding, using BTCPay, testing it, providing support to new users, doing graphic designs, UX/UI, maintaining directories, blogs writing documentation, spreading the word or simply interested in the BTCPay – thank you for being with me throughout this 2-year voyage. It’s been 2 wild years. Here’s to many more.