There's a tension in the air on this late Summer Monday morning as we begin to earnestly transition into Fall. Though this year the tension isn't being caused by the entropy of tree leaves or the faint scent of pumpkin spice lattes, but a rift in the fabric of the reality of modern-day corporate think.
Over the weekend, Square Crypto, a completely independent division of Square that is focused on funding and contributing to Bitcoin open-source projects, announced that it granted the open-source project BTCPayServer $100,000. A very bold move considering the fact that the Bitcoin-native products that BTCPayServer produces seem to directly compete with some of Square's core products. As you can see from the tweet thread above, Square doesn't quite see it that way.
The beginning of the Information Age has brought with it an explosion of technology and increased productivity that has forced humans to adapt at a pace that we have never experienced. The early days of the software and communications technology boom have greatly benefited those with information asymmetry. Those able to understand and master the explosion of new languages that have blossomed in the digital world over the last five decades. They built the world that we all operate in now. The hyperconnected world of instant communication that enables rapid price discovery, rapid iteration, and rapid adoption potential.
As we move further into the Information Age and the percentage of overall people that are born as digital natives approaches 100%, it is becoming more apparent that free and open-source software is the most leverageable as it allows for bigger, more robust network effects. Especially when quality open-source projects penetrate a particular vertical. We've seen AOL lose to the free and open Internet as better open-source browsers began to proliferate alongside rival ISPs. These browsers enabled the creation of Content Management Systems (CMSs) that saw their own proprietary v. open-source battles. Today, open-source CMS solutions like WordPress reign supreme as their developer and economic network effects proved too powerful over time.
Many do not realize it, but the emergence of Bitcoin has enabled a very similar explosion of free innovation that is going to change the landscape of our reality. BTCPayServer, a very young project, is a stellar example of what Bitcoin enables. No longer do individuals or businesses have to rely on 3rd party, walled-garden payment providers. They can create an HD wallet, download and set up a BTCPayServer instance, dump in an xpub key and begin accepting bitcoin as payment. No third parties. No censors. You can see it in action for yourself on our site. Any sats received via the invoices on the linked page are automatically in my custody. Free for me to spend how I see fit.
We here at the Ƀent and our parent company TFTC.io recently released some hot merch (cop here). In an effort to streamline the process, I set up a store on Shopify with our business account. As a result, I've been subjected to this warning on my dashboard for the last week.
In order to receive the money we've earned from selling tee shirts, we must comply with AML/KYC compliance that includes copies of my Driver's License and voided checks that have been cashed by the company. In order to sell (very stylish) tee shirts. The tee shirt funds that I've received via customers who paid in bitcoin using BTCPayServer are immediately accessible. I can do with it what I see fit. I'll probably reinvest some of it into whatever this operation is and hodl the rest. Nothing crazy, but the peace of mind that comes with knowing that I don't have to rely on some company's compliance department to give me access to my tee shirt money is very powerful.
Whether people like it or not. Whether they realize it or not, the money layer of the Internet is being disrupted right before our eyes. And as we've witnessed with the browser and CMS wars, the open-source solution seems destined to win because it is a better product which has the ability to develop stronger network effects. It seems that Square is prescient enough to realize this and is adapting to this new reality. Their backing of BTCPayServer is an incredible display of foresight and mental fortitude. As the Facebooks and banks of the world aim to build more walled gardens that they control, Square is working to water fields that can be tilled by all. Bravo to them.
Slow-cooked braised short ribs FTW. Happy it had me passed out before the end of the Eagles loss.