In 2020, the Human Rights Foundation launched a fund to support software developers who are making the Bitcoin network more private, decentralized, and resilient so that it can better serve as a financial tool for human rights activists, civil society organizations, and journalists around the world.
About the HRF Bitcoin Development Fund
Launched in May 2020 to support open source software, HRF’s Bitcoin Development Fund focuses on improving the privacy, usability, and resilience of the Bitcoin Network. To date, HRF has allocated more than $750,000 to developers and educators across the world. HRF continues to raise support for the Bitcoin Development Fund, with the next round of gifts to be announced in Q3 of 2021.
HRF is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable by law. USD gifts to the Bitcoin Development Fund can be made by clicking here, while proposals for support can be submitted to [email protected] Follow @HRF on Twitter for more updates on this project and all of our other programs designed to promote freedom and human rights around the world.
Q3 September 14, 2021 Update:
This round focuses on improving Bitcoin privacy tools, strengthening developer education in emerging markets, making Bitcoin onboarding a better experience for new users, and continued Bitcoin Core development.
Gifts and amounts are as follows:
• 50 million satoshis to Fodé Diop to create a Bitcoin Developers Academy. This Bitcoin programming course, initially targeting West Africa, and especially countries still using the CFA franc like Senegal, will eventually expand to allow anyone from around the globe to learn how to program Bitcoin, making Bitcoin more accessible and usable. Special thanks to Manuel Stotz for making this grant possible.
• 50 million satoshis to Bernard Parah, Carla Kirk-Cohen, Tim Akinbo, and Abubakar Nur Khalil to establish the Qala fellowship, a program to find and grow local Nigerian talent starting with developers to build careers in the Bitcoin space. Nigeria is a global leader in Bitcoin adoption and P2P trading, yet the country is underrepresented in the Bitcoin developer space. Starting with ten developers, the academy’s inaugural program will consist of a six-month intensive bootcamp focused on how to build on Bitcoin. Special thanks to Paxful for making this grant possible.
• 50 million satoshis to Vasil Dimov for his work on Bitcoin Core. Vasil is an experienced Bitcoin Core developer who has implemented Tor v3, BIP155 and I2P support in Bitcoin Core. Vasil will use HRF’s funding to implement CJDNS support which will make the network even more secure against partitioning attacks and will improve privacy. He will also work on code review, improving the testability of the networking code.
• 50 million satoshis to Fanquake (Michael Ford) for his work on Bitcoin Core. Michael has been contributing to Bitcoin Core since 2012, and became a Bitcoin Core maintainer in 2019. With this grant, Michael will be able to continue his work maintaining Bitcoin Core, ensuring that the open-source code runs efficiently and bug-free.
• 50 million satoshis to BTCPay to write an open-source design guide that can help merchant and donation recipient onboarding for Bitcoin payments and gifts. The Bitcoin Design Guide is an invaluable resource for designing new Bitcoin products, but it currently lacks a merchant section. BTCPay will use the grant to add a merchant section to the Bitcoin Design Guide, improving the Bitcoin onboarding experience for new companies, foundations, and donation-receiving organizations.
• 25 million satoshis to Lili and Richard Myers to establish an open-source research project about Bitcoin in low-bandwidth environments. Lili and Richard will create a research report focused on technologies that facilitate the use of bitcoin in hostile environments. This report will help Bitcoin developers understand pain points and improve the user experience for users in developing countries and emerging markets. Special thanks to Dan Held for making this grant possible.
• 25 million satoshis to Chaincase for their work on an open-source iOS Bitcoin wallet that features CoinJoin, coin control, and Tor for privacy. While there are many Bitcoin privacy tools available, they can be intimidating for non-technical users. Chaincase presents tools like Tor and CoinJoin together in a much more accessible package. HRF funds will support the addition of PayJoin, a fully peer-to-peer type of CoinJoin transaction which helps curb Bitcoin surveillance even for those who don’t PayJoin.
• 25 million satoshis to SeedSigner for their work on creating inexpensive open-source hardware wallets utilizing Raspberry Pi Zeroes, to enable people to be their bank for as little as $50. The decentralization of hardware wallets is crucial to Bitcoin’s ethos of self custody and resiliency. SeedSigner will use the funding to upgrade the user interface, add support for other languages, and continue to add user optimizations.
• 25 million satoshis to LNBits for their open-source Lightning wallet. Easy to set up and lightweight, LNbits can run on any lightning-network funding source, currently supporting LND, c-lightning, OpenNode, lntxbot, LNPay and even LNbits itself. HRF support will go towards integration of LNURL.
• 25 million satoshis to a bounty for developers to add a JoinMarket app to the Umbrel full-node platform. With a JoinMarket app, Umbrel users will be able to increase the privacy and fungibility of their Bitcoin transactions. The Umbrel’s ease of use coupled with a JoinMarket app could dramatically increase JoinMarket usage, making Bitcoin privacy much more accessible.
August 10, 2021 Update:
HRF is delighted to work with Compass Mining to support Jon Atack and Bitcoin Core. Jon has been a vital contributor to the world’s open source money project and we look forward to helping make his work possible this year.”
May 31, 2021 Update:
The Human Rights Foundation is delighted to announce the latest round of grants as part of its Bitcoin Development Fund. Calvin Kim and Dhruv Mehta will each receive $50,000 in BTC for their work on scaling and strengthening the Bitcoin core protocol. Abubakar Nur Khalil will receive $50,000 in BTC for his work on Bitcoin wallet software. In addition, the Sphinx and Breez teams will each receive $25,000 in BTC to help add privacy features to the Lightning ecosystem, and Arabic_HODL will receive $10,000 in BTC for his efforts to translate Bitcoin works into Arabic.
March 2021 Update:
The Human Rights Foundation is delighted to announce four new gifts from its Bitcoin Development Fund. This wave of donations will support Bitcoin development, a new open source wallet, a privacy newsletter, and internships for college students to work on Bitcoin software and new user education.
Bitcoin developer Jesse Posner will receive a gift of $25,000 in BTC. Until recently Jesse worked as a key management engineer at Coinbase, and is now today dedicating himself to the free and open source software movement. HRF’s support for Jesse will allow him to to finish his work on adapter signatures and discrete log contracts, which will bolster second-layer technology like the Lightning Network and help lay the foundation for “DeFi” to come to Bitcoin. HRF’s gift will also help Jesse begin research and implementation of new building blocks for key management systems in the post-Taproot era, including Schnorr threshold systems like FROST, which will help users more easily and privately control their funds.
The team behind Muun, an open source bitcoin and lightning wallet available for Android and iPhone, will receive a gift of $25,000 in BTC. This Argentina-based project led by Dario Sneidermanis seeks to make self-custodial bitcoin and lightning use easier and more intuitive than ever before. The Muun wallet can be downloaded here and has been praised widely throughout the industry including by Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey.
Privacy advocate Janine Roem will receive a gift of $10,000 in BTC to support her Bitcoin privacy newsletter. The newsletter which can be joined and read here is a monthly roundup of all news related to privacy in Bitcoin, ranging from new technology to new risks to guides that help individuals protect themselves while using Bitcoin.
Blockchain Commons, an open source cryptography non-profit, will receive a gift of $10,000 to help create a series of Bitcoin-focused internships. These internships will be opportunities for university students to contribute to Bitcoin software development and provide personal onboarding and education about how to use Bitcoin to activists in HRF’s network. This will allow, for example, journalists and dissidents under authoritarian regimes to have personalized assistance on how to, for example, set up a Bitcoin payment processor on their website to allow them to receive donations from anywhere in the world; configure a wallet that they securely control; and sell Bitcoin into fiat safely when necessary to pay for program expenses.
• Chris Belcher, a UK-based developer working on a technique called “CoinSwap” (originally invented in 2013 by Greg Maxwell) which helps defeat state and corporate financial surveillance by making it much harder for authorities to trace Bitcoin transactions. Previous to his work on CoinSwap, Belcher invented JoinMarket and Electrum Personal Server and wrote the authoritative Bitcoin Privacy guide. He is regarded as one of the world’s foremost experts in Bitcoin privacy.
• Gloria Zhao (@glozow), a UC Berkeley graduate now working on Package Mempool Accept, a project designed to increase Bitcoin’s processing capability, improve Lightning Network usability, and lay the foundation for “package relay.” With support from HRF and Square Crypto, Gloria will work over the coming year at Brink with world-class mentors.
• Ben Kaufman (@_benkaufman)quit school at age 14 to focus on software development, and has dedicated the last two years to working on open-source Bitcoin projects. He will use this grant to improve Specter Desktop, an enhanced user-interface for Bitcoin Core, making it easier for individuals to use Bitcoin securely and privately by running a full node and removing any reliance on third-party services.
• As part of Global Mesh Labs, Richard Myers, Fodé Diop, and Will Clark are working on Lot49 to create a basic Android messaging application that adapts existing Bitcoin and Lightning implementations to work off-grid with low-bandwidth and intermittent Internet connectivity. With Lot49, Richard, Fodé, and Will aim to make Bitcoin more usable in mobile-first environments with spotty internet connectivity, unstable currencies, and poor infrastructure.
• Openoms (@openoms) is the creator of JoinInbox, a graphical user interface for JoinMarket, a decentralized CoinJoin implementation. He will be working on making it easier for users to “make” CoinJoin markets by offering their BTC to others, expanding the liquidity pool.
• Evan Kaloudis (@evankaloudis) is the creator of Zeus, an iOS and Android app that lets individuals use their Bitcoin and Lightning node from their phone, allowing them to make or receive sovereign micropayments from anywhere. Evan will continue working on Zeus, making your Bitcoin interactions as private as possible.
• Fontaine (@Fonta1n3) is the creator of Fully Noded, an open source iOS app that allows individuals to interact with and use their Bitcoin Node from their mobile phone. With HRF’s support, Fontaine will also be working on a Tor-based web app counterpart to the mobile app which will make this toolset accessible to a wider audience.