A User-to-User Smart Contract Micropayment

August 01, 2016

Four months ago we started spending all of our developer effort on bitcoin micropayments. We have since designed our own shallow version of a smart contract payment channel network similar to and inspired by the Lightning Network. Designing it was the first step, and the next step was to implement it. As of today we have successfully tested our first user-to-user smart contract micropayment in a simulated environment. In other words, our micropayments technology has reached proof-of-concept stage. For more technical information, please see the appendix.

While our tests prove that the technology will work, there is still a good deal of work left to do. The next step for us is to finish edge cases in the implementation, particularly opening and closing channels automatically. Then we will run a “real” test on bitcoin testnet. After that we will integrate the micropayments technology into our app, and then we can launch a preview to an invite-only audience on testnet.

Building micropayments technology is so time consuming it’s worth reflecting on why we believe this is important. On Yours, users will pay for content that is inexpensive by the standards of traditional media — on the order of one cent. Traditional payment systems, like PayPal, charge fees that are far higher than this, on the order of thirty cents. It would not be worth paying one cent for content if you had to pay a thirty cent fee. Even bitcoin’s fees of roughly five cents are too high for this.

However, smart contracts on top of bitcoin allow users to guarantee payments to each other with cryptography. These smart contracts do not need to be on the blockchain. However, since these smart contracts do not have the irreversible security guarantees of transactions on the blockchain, it is possible for users to violate the contracts. But when a user violates the contract, other users involved in the contract can broadcast transactions to the blockchain to end the contract at that point. If Carol has received ten cents from Alice, and then Alice begins violating contracts, Carol can broadcast her latest transaction to the blockchain, get her ten cents, and she never has to deal with Alice again. The blockchain is a dispute mediator with a five cent fee.

There has long been an argument that small payments are too small to be worth the psychological cost of deciding whether to make the payment. But the converse should also be considered— receiving a tiny payment is disproportionately rewarding given its size. We believe that this more than makes up for the psychological cost of making a payment, since even curators on Yours can earn money. It’s worth it to make a small payment on Yours, because the joy of profiting is worth more than the value involved. Yours gamifies internet content.

We estimate that by September we will have implemented the protocol edge cases and be able to perform a micropayment on bitcoin testnet. That will be a good point for us to try to estimate a timeline to launch. The remaining difficulties will be integrating micropayments into the product in a way that doesn’t bewilder a mainstream audience. That will be difficult and will not happen instantly, although we have already done a lot of theoretical work to prepare for that.

Let’s take this opportunity to consider a couple of questions people keep asking us:

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Why We're Sticking With Bitcoin

July 14, 2016

Since we announced Yours, a community to help content creators get paid with bitcoin micropayments, one of the top questions we’ve been asked is “why bitcoin?” Some well-meaning people advocated that we make our own blockchain, since then we wouldn’t be stuck with bitcoin’s legacy choices, would have full control over our blockchain’s technical properties to suit our community’s needs, and could profit from speculation. While these are valid arguments, we believe they understate the difficulty of building a new blockchain from scratch and scaling it to reach a mainstream audience.

By leveraging bitcoin, we can take advantage of the largest blockchain technical ecosystem including open source software, documentation, standards, and APIs, as well as the largest blockchain social ecosystem including companies and experts. A new blockchain either has no ecosystem whatsoever, or, if we copy bitcoin, has an ecosystem only insofar as it overlaps with bitcoin. Building on bitcoin, though not easy, is easier than doing it alone on a new blockchain.

That’s the theory. A new project, Steem, has taken the very approach we determined wouldn’t work. They have built their own blockchain and customized it to suit the needs of their community. They’ve grown significantly and now have one of the most valued cryptocurrencies measured by market capitalization. And as best we can tell, it’s actually working — content creators are being paid.

Although we are delighted to see blockchain social media a reality, we worry that Steem can’t last. The burden of building not just a community and a technical platform, but also a novel cryptosystem and supporting economy, is extremely high. Security and scaling problems with their blockchain have a smaller team of experts incentivized to solve them, so solutions will come slower. Companies and services such as wallets and exchanges will be fewer in number and less featureful. When they encounter regulatory issues, they will have fewer allies.

At Yours, we are fully focused on solving the hard technical problems with bitcoin to enable the entire planet to earn money for internet content. Our gamble, backed by the huge number of open-source contributors and companies that service bitcoin, is that we don’t have to do everything ourselves for this to work — we have the network effect of the largest blockchain community to reinforce our efforts. For now this is just a theory, but we are hard at work trying to make it a reality. Join us if you would like to help.

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Why Micropayments Are Hard

June 21, 2016

Yours is the world’s first market for micro-content. When we finished our third prototype in April, we came up with a timeline for launch, and figured we only needed about a month to refine the product a bit and improve our bitcoin wallet to have lower fees. Unfortunately, we significantly underestimated the difficulty of “lowering fees” for bitcoin transactions. Turning a normal p2p bitcoin wallet into a micropayments p2p bitcoin wallet requires fundamental architectural changes to the way a wallet works, and roughly speaking more than doubles the complexity of the software. Although we are not finished yet, we are at a point where it may be valuable to our audience to know some of the challenges we are facing, and how we are overcoming them.

  • No one has done this before, so there is no one to copy. Although a notion of micropayments has been around since at least the 1990s, no one has ever actually implemented a working solution. When I originally created fullnode, now Yours Bitcoin, there were many times when I was unsure how to proceed and was able to refer to other open-source implementations, like Bitcoin Core, for a guide about what to do. With p2p micropayments, however, there is no spec and there is no production solution. We do have some other in-progress solutions (lnd, lightning, and thunder), which are valuable, but they are not stable or complete. We therefore have no choice but to innovate with some of our technical choices, which is harder than copying.

  • Payment channels require a messaging layer outside the blockchain. With a normal bitcoin wallet, Carol can receive a payment from Bob by passively monitoring the blockchain. With a micropayment solution based on payment channels, Carol and Bob have to have a two-way communications channel. This comes with at least three additional challenges: 1) There has to be a notion of user authentication, so that Carol and Bob can be sure they are talking with the right person, 2) There has to be a messaging protocol about what data to exchange and in what order and what to do when things go wrong, 3) Carol and Bob both have to be online in order for a payment to proceed from being unpaid to being paid. We are solving these problems by, 1) Making our own user authentication system based on BIP 32 keys, 2) Making a new messaging system based on signed (ECDSA), encrypted (ECIES) messages between users (stored on our server for now, but which can be moved to a distributed system like IPFS at a later date), 3) informing users to come online when necessary to finish sending or receiving a payment (this may be better solved in the future with a mobile app that occasionally checks for micropayments tasks for perform).

  • There is a lot more data to keep track of. One of the great innovations in bitcoin wallets is the standardization of BIP 32 deterministic keys and BIP 44 deterministic wallets. This means you only need to store a master mnemonic once to have permanent access to your funds. Unfortunately, there is no known deterministic solution for a micropayments wallet. Each user has to permanently keep track of commitment transactions, redeem scripts, HTLC secrets and revocation secrets generated by other people. We do not know how to derive all of these things deterministically (although we are hopeful it is possible). Like the blockchain itself, each user has their own log of events which can never be forgotten. The only way to manage this for now is to have a large client-side database that needs to be regularly backed up and synced across devices. Yours will automatically back up and sync this data. (We will use our server to hold the encrypted backup data on launch, and we will iterate to a distributed solution like IPFS later. Of course, you can also back up your data yourself.)

There is good news. In spite of all of the challenges, today CHECKSEQUENCEVERIFY (CSV) became locked-in and is guaranteed to activate in a couple of weeks. We are relying on CSV to significantly improve the security, usability, and fees of our payment channels by enabling them to remain open indefinitely. In 2016, micropayments are actually happening, and it’s not science fiction :)

Towards an MVP 2

May 26, 2016

Clemens and I are 100% focused on finishing the Yours MVP. Here are some things that have changed since the last update:

  • Steven has written a number of articles which have driven new attention to our community. See How Yours Can Empower Creators/Curators From All Over The Web, Endorsements, Payment Channels, and How Yours Will Reward Content Creators and Curators, How To Explain Yours To a Content Creator, and Using Money To Incentivize Content With Yours.
  • Darren has created some beautiful branded graphics that we can use when we launch. These are visible in #design on Slack.
  • We have completed the rebrand from “Datt” to “Yours”.
  • Clemens has finished the design of the Yours smart contract network for micropayments. The implementation supports payment channels from one party to another. We are currently integrating it into Yours Core and building the micropayment wallet infrastructure around it.
  • Fullnode, the Yours implementation of bitcoin, has been renamed to Yours Bitcoin. We believe this better enforces the brand of Yours than using the unrelated name “Fullnode”.
  • We have migrated to using Node.js 6.1 everywhere and have adopted all the fancy ES2015 features it supports, particularly the new class syntax, object destructuring, default function arguments, and rest parameters. You must now use “new” everywhere to create a new object.
  • Yours Core has been merged into the main, private Yours repo. Yours Core will be re-open sourced sometime after launch. We don’t want anybody running premature versions of our code before we launch.

How To Explain Yours To A Content Creator

April 23, 2016

Since Ryan focused on how curators can be rewarded simply by posting great content on Yours in his last post (check it out: here), I’ll focus on how creators can benefit from using Yours. Also, check out my last post regarding how we plan on incentivizing content: here.

So, what is Yours? There are a myriad of different ways we could possibly go about explaining it. We could nail you with the technical specifics, and dance around that with a few marketing slogans, perhaps say the buzzword “content monetization” a bunch — but we won’t.

Let’s take a different approach. Let’s go through a moment in the life of a (hopeful) average Yours user, and talk about what our vision looks like; and how we plan to change the way people discover engaging and entertaining content on the web..and get paid to do it.

The content that you post to Yours is essentially your personal stake into the platform. As viewership and usage of Yours grows -thanks to great contributors (hopefully) like yourself; the propensity that you will see more profit increases as the network grows in adoption. More users means more great content consumers who may find your posts engaging, and worthy of a monetary reward.

Simply put: Post awesome stuff, make Yours a go-to destination for realtime content discovery thanks to your creative talents, profit.

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How Yours Will Use the Lightning Network

April 21, 2016

Yours is a marketplace for content where transactions are for very small amounts of money, approximately one cent. The concept of very small payments, or micropayments, has been the subject of science fiction since the 1990s. For technical and economic reasons, no product has been able to lower transaction fees enough to make micropayments viable, until now. New technology based on bitcoin, the Lightning Network, makes micropayments viable. Yours will be the first mainstream consumer product to leverage the Lightning Network to monetize that which was previously unmonetizable: small pieces of content.

In order to understand the Lightning Network, one must first have a basic understanding of bitcoin. Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer financial system where it is possible to hold and transmit value (bitcoin) with no trusted third party, like digital cash. A user can send bitcoin to another user by signing and broadcasting a transaction. The broadcasted transaction is noticed by other bitcoin users (miners) who run proof-of-work calculations and assemble recent transactions into a block. There is one global chain of blocks, the blockchain, which is equivalent to the history of all transactions, or the global ledger of the everyone’s balance of bitcoin. In order to incentivize miners to perform the proof-of-work calculations, each transaction has a fee. The fee rate is determined by a market, and thus changes continuously.

Although bitcoin transaction fees are small, they are not zero. A payment of one cent with bitcoin would incur a fee of five cents — too high to be economically viable. Fortunately, it is possible to reduce fees by many orders of magnitude with smart contracts. Smart contracts are conceptually related to legal contracts, except they are enforced by cryptography rather than governments. With an elaborate network of smart contracts, users can transmit value to each other without broadcasting transactions to the blockchain. The blockchain is only used when a user violates a smart contract, in which case the transactions settle on the blockchain, incurring a fee. So long as most users obey the contracts most of the time, settlement transactions will be few. If one thousand smart transactions occur for every broken contract, then the fees are one thousand times lower than normal, or thousandths of a cent, making micropayments economically viable.

There are legal questions over the smart contracts used in the Lightning Network. If a user executes a smart contract on their computer, should they be regulated as a money transmitter like Western Union? This is analogous to asking whether an airplane that flies over a highway should obey the speed limit. To anyone that understands what an airplane is and for what purpose it is used, the thought that a highway speed limit should apply is absurd. However, what is a joke to the engineer who builds the airplane is not a joke to the prosecutor who wants to enforce the speed limit. What is needed is clarity over the mechanics and intent of the Lightning Network so that anybody can judge for themselves whether traditional finance regulation applies.

The most important concept to understand first is that the Lightning Network is software running on computers. When we discuss the “payments” that occurs between users, there are no dollars being stored or transmitted. What is actually happening when one user, Alice, pays another user, Bob, is that Alice runs an algorithm on her computer that takes data from her computer and data from Bob’s computer and produces more data that is communicated to Bob’s computer and other computers. Alice’s “private key” is not literally a key in her desk drawer, her “signature” is not literally ink on a piece of paper, and her “transaction” does not involve shaking hands. While these things are analogous to their real-world counterparts, they are not equivalent. Even Alice and Bob are usually not human. Everything that occurs in the Lightning Network is software running on computers.

The Lightning Network is based on the concept of payment channels. When Alice wants to make a payment to Bob, she signs a transaction to Bob. In order to keep transaction fees low, neither Alice nor Bob broadcasts the transaction right away. When Alice wants to send more money to Bob, she sends him a new transaction with more money that updates and replaces the old transaction. Alice may send thousands of transactions to Bob in this manner. Only once they desire to settle do they broadcast the transaction to the blockchain, incurring a fee. Fees are much lower with payment channels than with normal bitcoin transactions, but they have a problem: it only works when Alice wants to pay Bob. When Alice wants to pay another user, Carol, Alice must create a new payment channel with Carol. Creating a payment channel involves broadcasting a transaction to the blockchain before making any payments, and another transaction to settle after all payments are made. So each payment channel requires two fees, one at the beginning and one at the end. If Alice is only ever going to pay Carol once, she doesn’t save any fees. If Alice pays many people only once, she actually pays more fees with payment channels than with normal bitcoin transactions.

It is possible to reduce fees when Alice pays Carol if Bob acts as a trustless counterparty. Alice does not have a payment channel to Carol, but Alice does have a payment channel to Bob, and Bob has a payment channel to Carol. If Alice pays Bob and Bob pays Carol, effectively Alice has paid Carol. However, Bob may not be trustworthy and may take the money from Alice without sending any money to Carol. So Alice uses a smart contract: Alice sends a transaction to Bob that Bob can only spend if he proves he sent the same amount of money to Carol. Bob is a trustless counterparty — he may or may not be nefarious, but it doesn’t matter, because Alice and Carol do not have to trust him in order to route a payment through him. His open payment channels are just used to minimize transaction fees.

The Lightning Network is a network of payment channels. When Alice wants to pay Carol, or Dave, or Susan, she finds the shortest route and makes a payment through the route using smart contracts. If Alice cannot find any route to pay Dave, Alice opens up a channel directly to Dave. Although this channel incurs a transaction fee, it is worth the fee if Dave is connected directly or indirectly to many other people, so that any time Alice wants to pay any of them, she does not have to pay a fee.

Yours aims to enable amateur content creators to start earning money for their essays, music, videos or other works of art. Because each transaction is small, Yours uses the Lightning Network to keep transaction fees low so that creators get to keep most of their earnings. Our users are just people paying each other bitcoin for content — they are not money transmitters like Western Union. They are able to do this by leveraging advanced technology that has only recently been invented, not by driving 600 mph on the highway. Yours will be launching an early preview in May, 2016. Sign up for the mailing list of you would like to be invited.

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What is Yours?

April 19, 2016

Yours is a way for writers, musicians, and video producers to earn more money for their content by incentivizing people to pay for it. Unlike many media companies, Yours is not funded by advertisements. Yours is funded by people who send payments to creators, with a twist: the people who make payments, the curators, also earn money if they are good at curating.

Many content creators are struggling to make ends meet because third-party advertising is a poor business model. Advertising often irritates consumers and only provides a small return to creators. Traditional media companies are suffering, and many small creators don’t earn any revenue at all. What’s needed is a new model that gives people value for making payments directly to the creators. Creators should earn more money, and everyone should get more of the content they want. The model is simple: Pay the curator.

A curator is someone who discovers and highlights the work of a creator. A newspaper editor is a curator, and so is someone who upvotes content on reddit. Curators do valuable work by finding gems in the rough, and bringing them to the attention of others. Curators are willing to pay for good content because they know they can profit by reselling it. On Yours, anyone can be a curator by paying both the creator and the other curators who brought this to their attention. A curator can then earn money by reselling the piece of content and keeping a portion of the revenue. The creator wins because they get more revenue. The curator also wins because they profit by bringing more attention to the creator.

Yours does not need third-party advertisements. Rather than cost people time with advertisements they don’t want to see, Yours incentivizes people to pay for content directly by providing them with a profit opportunity. People who don’t want to pay don’t have to. But if someone believes in a creator, and wants to bring more attention and more revenue to that creator, they can curate. Then not only do they help the creator, but they potentially profit from doing so.

Yours is the result of a community effort to solve the content monetization problem. Hundreds of people contributed to our solution. The first version will be launched in May, 2016. To get invited to our early preview, please sign up for our mailing list or join us on Slack.

This article was originally published on The Ryan X. Charles Times

Why "Datt" is Rebranding to "Yours"

April 17, 2016

Datt was launched last summer when I wrote a popular article, “Fix reddit with bitcoin,” and I decided to form a company around the idea. One of the first things I had to do was find a name. After a bit of brainstorming, I thought the “decentralize all the things” meme captured the essence of the project. I converted this to a word, “Datt”, and everybody seemed to like it. The only problem is that my network was heavily biased in favor of the bitcoin community, and whenever I tried to pitch my idea to people outside that community, they didn’t get the joke. The name “Datt” became a barrier to gathering the mainstream audience I originally envisioned.

On the basis of recommendations from people more experienced at business than myself, I decided to come up with a more mainstream name. At first I limited myself to what domain names were available, and the best I could come up with was “Gild Forge”. No one liked that one. Finally, before the LAUNCH Hackathon in February, I brainstormed names again, this time unconstrained by whether the domain name was available or not. One name stood out — “Yours”.

What would you call a social network where you owned your content? Where your work was correctly attributed to you? Where you got paid for the work that you did? Where you were in control? Clearly, this network is Yours. “Yours” fully captures the essence of what we are trying to achieve, both more accurately than “Datt”, and in a way that can be understood by anyone. It facilitates, rather than hinders, adoption by a mainstream audience. If it belongs to you, it’s Yours. Even children can understand this concept.

I wanted to salvage “Datt”. I think it’s a cool name, and I think it captures the project’s roots better than “Yours”. One way to do this would be to keep the name of the software project the same. Perhaps “Datt” is just the name of the npm module and software repository. However, I think that would be too unfocused. I don’t want to have to divide my effort explaining to people what “Datt” is if it is doesn’t facilitate the mission. Thus, the best name for the npm module and software repository is “Yours Core”, not “Datt”. “Datt” is best considered a code name—it’s the top-secret, mysterious, and fun placeholder name before finding “Yours”.

I’ve been a member of the bitcoin community for almost five years. I have watched many companies come and go in that time, and one mistake many companies have made is to not solve a problem for anybody who isn’t already a bitcoin user. Such companies have assumed bitcoin would naturally achieve mainstream appeal, and as it did, their niche would grow. This strategy is a mistake, because it leaves their fate in the hands of forces outside of their control. The best way to make bitcoin mainstream is to make a company mainstream that uses bitcoin as a part of its tech stack. That is the Yours strategy.

This article was originally published on The Ryan X. Charles Times

Countdown to Launch

April 04, 2016

Clemens Ley, Steven McKie and I got together yesterday and discussed what properties of Datt are necessary for MVP and came up with a timeline for launch. Assuming our time estimates are correct, we believe we can launch a mainnet MVP by May 15, less than a month and a half from now. The properties of MVP are similar to what I sketched out in this article and this article, but with some important differences. The most important of those properties are:

  • We will be rebranding from Datt to Yours. After discussing naming with many people, it is clear that “Datt” is a good name for technical people and bitcoin people, but it is not a good name for a mainstream audience, since most people don’t get the joke. Fortunately, we have found a name good for all audiences - Yours. We will come up with a plan for the rebrand and execute the plan before launch. After the rebrand, Datt, the software, will still be called Datt, but the public facing name we will use will be Yours. Datt will be like the name of an engine in a car. Unless you are technically savvy, you probably have no idea the name of your engine is, but you do know the name of the company that made your car. Datt is the name of the engine and Yours is the compay. Part of that plan will probably include moving the blog and software from Datt-branded pages to Yours-branded pages. The Datt Blog will probably become the Yours Engineering Blog.
  • We will finish our implementation of a trustless payment channel hub based on hash time lock contracts and integrate that into the bitcoin wallet before launch, so that genuine p2p micropayments are possible. The “tipping” cost will go from about $1 to about $0.05. We believe this innovation is necessary to create the mainstream appeal we are looking for, and on-chain transactions don’t fit the bill because the transaction fees are too high. Ultimately, we want to implement the lightning network, but the lightning network will take too much time to build. We can move from a trustless hub to the lightning network when the time is right.
  • We will not be integrating decentralized storage before launch, but we will be forwards-compatible with implementing decentralized storage later. Since we have limited engineering resources, we believe our focus should be on decentralized micropayments, and not storage, since micropayments make a significant difference in the product, and storage doesn’t. Content on Datt/Yours is already signed, hashed and authenticated client-side, so moving to a decentralized storage system where content is addressed by hash is something we can iterate to over time. We would rather launch sooner to get critical feedback on the product than wait for decentralized storage.
  • We will integrate Steven and Darren’s UI work and add a leaderboard. We believe the leaderboard will be an important psychological tool to inform potential users at a glance that Yours enables people to earn money, which makes it different than any other mainstrea social media app.
  • Have a brief testnet launch before the mainnet launch to identify any money-losing bugs that escaped our tests during development.
  • Have and execute a community/growth/launch plan. We will write down an execute a community plan to build the initial user base. This will involve a limited beta preview to a select audience, emailing the mailing list, notifying Slack members, etc. We will have a weekly growth target (say, 10%, although the number is undecided at present), to make sure we are on the path to our long-term goals. We will also do some “coffee shop tests” where we ask random people at coffee shops to make sure that our product appeals to a mainstream audience.

Why I'm Sticking With Bitcoin

April 03, 2016

Since last summer when I announced Datt, an in-development social media platform and application powered by bitcoin, one of the top questions I’ve been asked is, “why are you using bitcoin?” Last year, this question often took the form of, “why not use Stripe?” or, “why not make an altcoin?” Since the rally in ethereum over the past few months, the question has morphed into “why not use ethereum?” The answer is because Datt only needs internet money right now, not advanced smart contracts, and switching to ethereum would incur a large technical and economic cost which would ultimately not deliver a proportional return. Whereas if we simply prioritize our feature set, we can and will add advanced smart contracts based on bitcoin when the time is right.

Ethereum, at a protocol level, is arguably more advanced than bitcoin. Since it is Turing-complete, it has solved [1] the limitation of the scripting language built into bitcoin. However, the economy around ethereum is much more limited than bitcoin, and therefore ethereum is less useful. Because ethereum has a very different protocol than bitcoin, it is not trivial for bitcoin-supporting companies to add support for ethereum. Roughly speaking, bitcoin companies have three options: 1) Increase technical complexity of their platform by adding ethereum support to their bitcoin support, 2) Drop their assets in the bitcoin space but keep complexity limited by switching from bitcoin to ethereum, 3) Solve the hard problems in bitcoin by designing and building complicated systems.

Some companies will choose Option #1, increasing technical complexity by supporting both ethereum and bitcoin. This is a mistake. Rather than shaping their own future, these companies will let their fate be decided by the whims of speculators and hype. I am bearish on companies that divide their effort between two conflicting visions of the future. With the exception of exchanges, they will fail.

Other companies will choose Option #2, dropping assets in the bitcoin space and supporting ethereum instead. I think this is a valid option for some companies. If a company never had strong assets in bitcoin, perhaps they can find a new niche in the ethereum space. They will take a hit by pivoting, but they could still succeed over the long-term. However, this path is not actually any easier than the bitcoin path. I predict these companies will ultimately be faced with the same problem they are facing now — lack of traction. They will still have to solve hard problems, but at a later date, and with a smaller market.

Option #3 is to solve the hard problems in bitcoin. This is being tackled by companies like Blockstream, 21, Onename, and OB1. These companies see bitcoin as the largest and most secure foundation for the future of finance and information services. When they encounter problems, they solve them by writing code rather than pivoting to a different platform. This is the path that I am taking with Datt, with the help of my collaborators. Since the bitcoin block size is limited and has recently caused transaction fees to rise, we have started implementing a solution based on payment channels. Pivoting to ethereum wouldn’t eliminate problems for Datt — it would just create new and different problems, and delay our success.

The most useful, important, and revolutionary application of blockchain technology is internet money. Satoshi had the right goal and made the right economic decisions when designing bitcoin, in particular being limited in quantity to 21 million. The incentives encourage global adoption of bitcoin over the long-term. It will not be possible for ethereum or other platforms to outcompete bitcoin at its core value proposition. Datt, like our older cousins in the space, see an opportunity to service an enormous future market based on bitcoin, not by waiting for other people to solve the hard problems for us, but by solving them ourselves.

[1] I haven’t studied ethereum in detail at a technical level, so I take ethereum developers at their word that they have solved the Turing-completeness problem correctly. However, I suspect that there are many other less obvious problems around scaling and ecosystem that will need to be solved, just as with bitcoin. And since bitcoin has a larger economy and a longer head start on solving these problems, I am not convinced that ethereum, at an ecosystem level, is more advanced than bitcoin or will be able to outpace it.

This article was originally published on The Ryan X. Charles Times