HRF's Bitcoin Development Fund

Update, as of April 15, 2021: We have received $316,303 in donations from 112 donors. At today’s exchange rates, the total amount of BTC and USD given out by the fund so far is $746,000.

The Human Rights Foundation has launched a fund to support open-source 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.

To make a USD donation to HRF’s Bitcoin Development Fund, click here. To donate Bitcoin or Lightning via BTCPay server, donate below:

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 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.

Previous Awardees:

• 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.

Learn more about how Bitcoin is protecting human rights by watching the video below.

Any gifts given to the Bitcoin Development Fund in USD or BTC will be used to support individuals or teams working on specific projects to help improve the Bitcoin network. The fund will aim to support worthy projects on an ongoing basis. 95% of donations will go directly to the winning developers, while 5% will support HRF’s human rights advocacy in general.

To submit a proposal, email [email protected].

We are very grateful to Gemini, Silvergate Bank, and Wasabi, among others, for their financial support for this fund!

A special thanks to @cryptograffiti for the graphic and @artdesignbysf for the custom BTCPay design.

To learn more about HRF’s work with Bitcoin click here. Read our commentary on the topic in CNNBloombergTIMEReason, and Forbes, or watch our presentation at Slush.