Nic Carter: Bitcoin's Patronage System Is a Big Strength

Published on by Coindesk | Published on

Bitcoin's patronage system - how future network development is funded - has gained unheralded strength, with many more entities signing on as sponsors.

Thanks to their support, a handful of the most critical and engaged developers were able to commit their time fully to Bitcoin.

Many more developers active on the Bitcoin codebase or ancillary projects remained unfunded and had to split their time between Bitcoin development and day jobs.

In 2019, Square Crypto burst on the scene and announced its intention to fund a variety of Bitcoin projects, both relating to the main codebase but also targeting less conventional improvements to Bitcoin's design and user experience.

Notably, its first grant was to BTCPayServer, a project dedicated to facilitating bitcoin acceptance among merchants.

Today, the Bitcoin patronage environment is encouragingly vibrant and diverse.

For a fuller accounting of Bitcoin patronage initiatives, see this piece from BitMEX Research, with supplemental information here.

In short, Bitcoin's patronage environment has gone from one in which a half dozen core developers were subsidized by a handful of institutions, to a setting where dozens of individuals and projects - many of which lie entirely outside the domain of "Core" - are able to obtain financing from a much larger variety of donors.

For individuals who want to donate directly to core developers, several Bitcoin developers have signed up to Github's new Sponsors program.

For those versed in the dynamics of open source, Bitcoin's patronage system as a funding model should come as no surprise.