Mike Hearn one of the Bitcoin project's core developers is preparing to launch the beta of the Lighthouse crowdfunding platform, one which looks set to change how core Bitcoin development is funded.
Making use of an under-implemented conditionality function built into Bitcoin's central code, Lighthouse opens the door to users easily creating contractual and crowdfund style Bitcoin transactions.
Announcing the beginning stages of pushing Lighthouse into it's beta state on the Google groups page,
Hearn's project has been tipped as the future way in which the core code development of Bitcoin can be funded outside of contributions from the Bitcoin Foundation. The developer has made his concerns about the state of the central code known, speaking in 2014 he explained that “it's pretty terrifying how big this thing has become on such a shaky foundation”. Having a native crowdfunding platform would allow supporters to back Bitcoin development by pledging funds to specific projects with the platform.
Cointelegraph spoke to Hearn about what he hoped the Lighthouse platform would allow Bitcoin users to start doing:
“My biggest hope for Lighthouse is that it helps prove to the world that Bitcoin's features aren't just hype at conferences - they can be converted into real products that help real people. Existing crowdfunding platforms can easily soak up 10% of the funds you raise, and aren't even available in most countries. Lighthouse is a great demonstration of how Bitcoin can dis-intermediate expensive middlemen - it's free, fast, works everywhere and puts the user in control”.
“More specifically Lighthouse can do ‘crowdfunds’ that don't fit our pre-conceived notions of what a crowdfund is. Think about friends doing a group buy for concert tickets, a drama group raising money to put on a show, and so on. These projects don't fit existing platform policies and the overheads would be too big anyway. With Lighthouse, they could make sense. I'd love to see people explore new ways to use all-or-nothing fundraising.”
The ongoing development is mostly funded by the Bitcoin Foundation, an organization that has come under fire for paying only three developers. Mostly funded through corporate and private donations, the Bitcoin Foundation has been accused of a lack of transparency on decision making with Hearn suggesting that “people aren't always motivated to donate when they don't feel they have any impact on how the money will be spent.”
The Lighthouse platform for crowdfunding in Bitcoin, would allow core development projects in Bitcoin to be suggested and backed by the same corporations and private individuals, but with greater control over the direction and force of the projects. Bitcoin millionaire Olivier Janssens has already pledged US$50,000 to the first Bitcoin development project to be listed on the site. The lack of fees, and decentralized nature of Lighthouse will also allow users to begin crowdfunding projects that don't fit well with existing platforms such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.
Hearn, the former Google engineer and architect of Bitcoin's Java implementation “Bitcoinj”, made headlines in 2014 winning a US$ 40,000 bounty payment for the early proofs of Lighthouse's ability to create projects and allowing users to pledge Bitcoin funds to them. The bounty was another part of the overall US$100,000 offered by Olivier Janssens to develop a system that would work independently of the Bitcoin Foundation to fund future core Bitcoin development projects. Criticizing the Bitcoin Foundation's internal structure Janssens explained:
“Bitcoin is the currency of the internet generation. It puts the power back into the hands of the people. You cannot expect its main representative organization to be exactly the opposite: A non-transparent, political and secretive elite.”
Hearn's imminent launch of the beta of Lighthouse will surely please Jannsens but, more importantly, it can open new doors in the way people crowdfund a whole new type and range of projects.
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