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IFP Questions and Answers

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The health of the Bitcoin Cash network is central to the Bitcoin ABC mission. We take very seriously our responsibility to ensure the safety and security of the BCH network.

It is for this reason that we deploy network consensus changes in a careful manner, well ahead of time.

This allows Bitcoin Cash businesses and other projects time to upgrade and test the new version before going into production.

The Infrastructure Funding Plan

The Infrastructure Funding Plan (IFP) is a project that aims to direct a percentage of Bitcoin Cash block rewards from all BCH blocks produced for a term of 6 months to invest in BCH software and commons, including the development of the Bitcoin ABC BCH full node software, which has produced almost all BCH blocks ever.

Recently, we have received questions via reddit.com/r/btc about whether Bitcoin ABC will “remove the IFP” from its software.

"Removing the IFP" at this time Would be Reckless

"Removing the IFP" would mean releasing a version of the Bitcoin ABC full node software with different consensus rules than Bitcoin ABC versions 0.21.0, 0.21.1, 0.21.2, 0.21.3 and 0.21.4.

To make such a change at this time, after users have already started upgrading for the 15 May 2020 network upgrade, would be reckless.

Such a change would expose Bitcoin Cash businesses, users and the network to the risk of a chain split for no compelling reason. Since we cannot retroactively recall prior releases, it is likely that a portion of users will continue to run versions 0.21.0 through 0.21.4. If Bitcoin ABC released a new “IFP-removed” version, and the IFP were to activate, then a chain split could result.  This risk also applies to anyone running any node software that doesn't implement the IFP.

If the IFP does not activate, then an “IFP-removed” version would behave no differently than other versions, so there would be no compelling reason for it.

Further, it is a terrible idea, and would be a bad precedent, to make technical decisions about production software based on what point of view can muster the most noise on social media.

Requested by BCH Miners

The bottom line is that the IFP was requested and set in motion by BCH miners who likely control enough hashrate to enforce the plan, if they so choose.

The initial community reaction rapidly reached a "cautiously optimistic" consensus.

Some parties were opposed to the very concept of miner funding. Others were supportive of the intent of the plan, but had issues with different details of how it would be implemented. Some individuals flipped their positions from being in favor of, to being against, the IFP.

As a result of community feedback, the original IFP plan was modified to be activated by a BIP 9 miner vote. This is the process that is taking place right now.

Wheels in Motion

The wheels were already in motion. Bitcoin ABC has a predetermined release schedule precisely to create predictability around Bitcoin Cash for BCH businesses.

Releasing a version with different consensus rules in the middle of an upgrade cycle would constitute an unnecessary risk.

To push such a snap decision out to exchanges, mining pools and other businesses, would force an emergency upgrade on them. This would produce messy results, as some upgrade and some may not. This could damage the Bitcoin Cash network, and harm the reputation of BCH with those businesses.

In order to protect the integrity of the Bitcoin Cash network, we must not make snap decisions based on proof of reddit. 

So those wheels continue to turn.

Miner Vote

The IFP is being submitted to a miner vote. 

As a project, Bitcoin ABC believes that stable funding of Bitcoin Cash software infrastructure is vital to the success of the project.

While we recognize that some aspects of this plan have been controversial, we believe that overall the benefits of the plan create the potential for a very exciting future in which Bitcoin Cash can grow and compete, and can reach its goal of becoming the best money the world has ever seen.

To try and back that out now sets a dangerous precedent and could cause more damage than even the posited worst-case IFP voting scenarios.

What if the IFP activates?

It can sometimes be appropriate to issue emergency updates to node software in order to correct a fatal flaw or major bug. But the IFP does not fall into this category, to the contrary it is actually a very attractive feature for Bitcoin Cash in many ways.

Precedent: Self funding mechanisms exist for almost all top cryptocurrencies (for example ETH started with an ICO and held lots of initial coins), and have been greatly successful in funding development. An example of an IFP-like self-funding coin is ZCash. After much constructive discussion in its community, ZCash decided overwhelmingly to renew their miner funding mechanism. The Electric Coin Company has been very successful in using those funds to advance the state of research in the areas of cutting-edge cryptography relevant to ZCash.

Efficient: One of the nice features of the IFP is that it would have an almost negligible impact on miners of Bitcoin Cash. It would result in lowering SHA256 miner revenues by 0.15% - one tenth of one percent. Considering the cryptocurrency markets fluctuate by many multiples of this amount within hours, this is a very small impact. The effect on development funding, meanwhile, would be massive, enabling the buildout of solid infrastructure for Bitcoin Cash to grow and compete.

Aligned with Principles: The IFP is consistent with Bitcoin Cash’s properties of being sound money. It does not touch the inflation schedule or alter the scarcity of BCH. Although some argue that it reduces the security of the network by lowering the relative hash rate of BCH compared to BTC, it would also increase the security of the network against bugs and software vulnerabilities by enabling development to be properly funded. So,it seems likely that it would actually increase the security of the Bitcoin Cash network, all things considered.

Aligned Incentives: One of the nice characteristics of the IFP as a development funding solution is that it does a good job aligning the incentives of Bitcoin Cash developer teams with the interests of the network as a whole.

Bitcoin ABC provides its full node software under the MIT open-source license to miners. The miners use the software to produce revenue in the form of the block reward, which they receive when they successfully produce Bitcoin Cash blocks.

When protocol developers also make their living from those same block rewards, it aligns incentives. If the network as a whole builds, grows and does well, there will be more demand for Bitcoin Cash. This increased demand can be expected over time to be reflected in the value of the same Bitcoin Cash paid to developer groups from the block reward.

Conversely, if the developer teams are not effective, miners can change payouts or full node software, or even end the IFP entirely, if they so choose.

Conclusion

The goal of Bitcoin ABC is to make Bitcoin Cash a globally competitive P2P electronic cash system. To accomplish this goal will require a lot of work, including significant investment in the infrastructure so that it can provide a solid foundation for Bitcoin Cash products and services, and be able to handle massive growth. 

Bitcoin Cash faces significant competition in the cryptocurrency space, and those competitors are not sitting still. To the contrary, they are investing massive sums into development. Bitcoin Cash is faced with an existential question: grow or die.

For these reasons, we see the IFP as an attractive option to provide a sustainable source of funding in order to meet those goals. The original IFP proposal was modified, based on community feedback, to be activated by BIP 9 miner activation. The miners who were interested in the IFP stated that they would use this activation mechanism responsibly to either activate the IFP, or not, according to their judgement of the situation. 

At this time, the most responsible course of action for Bitcoin ABC is to let this miner voting process play out without interference.

Questions and Answers

Here are some questions we have received, and their answers.

What if a malicious miner activates the IFP?

To activate the IFP requires that a miner can maintain greater than 66% of the BCH hashrate for 2 full weeks. So the bar to activate the IFP is actually higher than what would be needed for a miner to do things much much worse than anything anyone has posited the IFP could do. 

If some miner decides to use a large amount of hash to attack BCH, that has nothing to do with the IFP. It is simply the nature of the security model we have with Nakamoto consensus.

It seems unlikely that a malicious miner would be willing to spend that much money simply to cause more controversy on r/btc. And if they do, it hardly seems to be worse than actually being able to fund BCH protocol development, and finally develop BCH as P2P electronic cash.

This scenario also illustrates why it would be foolhardy to release a version of Bitcoin ABC with the IFP removed. In such a situation, a “rogue activation” would actually cause a BCH network split between miners running Bitcoin ABC versions 0.21.4 and below on the one hand, and those running the “IFP-removed” version on the other.

Will the IFP cause a fork?

The Bitcoin ABC full node software is used by almost all miners, therefore this is not expected.

The community is unanimously against the IFP.

Decisions are made in Bitcoin by individuals taking actions based on their preferences and self-interest, not by permitting those who are loudest on social media to dictate courses of action for everyone else.

We know that some people on social media are not happy about the IFP but this does not mean everyone is against it.

The IFP is not on the Bitcoin Cash roadmap.

The IFP may not formally be on the roadmap, but a miner funding mechanism has been a long-standing feature request from major players in the Bitcoin Cash ecosystem. See for example this May 2018 article from Bitcoin.com entitled “BCH Miners Discuss Funding Development With a Fraction of Block Rewards”. 

Over the years various proposals have been attempted, and the current incarnation of the IFP represents a continuation of those efforts to come up with stable infrastructure funding for Bitcoin Cash.

The bottom line is that funding is implicit in the roadmap. A roadmap without funding is nothing more than a nice idea, wish or dream. It only becomes a serious, executable plan when we apportion the resources necessary to make it happen. After 2.5 years, the time has come for us to apportion those resources if we wish to see Bitcoin Cash remain relevant and realize the vision of P2P electronic cash for the world.

The IFP is not in the business plan.

Actually it is on page 18.

The Infrastructure Funding Plan (IFP). If all else fails, miners may be incentivized to implement an infrastructure funding plan that involves a mandatory percentage-based contribution of the Bitcoin Cash block reward to Bitcoin Cash development teams.

You just need to improve the IFP like this.

There are many variations possible for an IFP-type miner funding mechanism. Part of the challenge with previous efforts was that it is difficult for a large group to come to consensus in all the details of how it is to be implemented. For this reason, an imperfect but simple plan may be better than a plan that is “better” in one person’s opinion, while being more complicated.

It should also be noted that the original plan was actually modified based on some of the feedback received to arrive at the current implemented version.

If you would like to improve the IFP, or any other aspect of the Bitcoin ABC full node software, we welcome patches at reviews.bitcoinabc.org. Here are full details on how to start contributing to Bitcoin Cash protocol development with Bitcoin ABC: https://github.com/Bitcoin-ABC/bitcoin-abc/blob/master/CONTRIBUTING.md.

What’s to stop the IFP from continuing forever?

Given that Bitcoin ABC upgrades the network every 6 months via hard fork, it is not possible for the current IFP to continue more than a maximum of 6 months.

Further, the consortium of miners that came together to propose the IFP is inherently unstable.

That said, if the IFP turns out to be successful, leads to major improvements to Bitcoin Cash, and is seen as a wise investment in the project, then there is no reason why it should not continue for longer than six months.

Join Us

Join the Bitcoin ABC team in building censorship-resistant P2P electronic cash for billions of daily users and realizing the vision that is Bitcoin Cash!

Visit fund.bitcoinabc.org to find our business plan, budget, delivery timeline, funding options and feedback mechanisms.

We can only do this together.

Got questions? Ask us below.

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Comments

What if the IFP activates?

Bitcoin Cash would probably be dead project, because all these people would leave: https://old.reddit.com/r/btc/comments/f4qgry/lets_have_a_show_of_hands_who_supports_the_ifp/

Despite the fact that ABC considers them (let me quote here) "noise on social media" - these people are the ones who made Bitcoin Cash possible. It's a pity that ABC seems to willingly ignore that fact.

$ 6.65
5 months ago

Please not that the list of people references is not a list of people who would automatically and entirely stop working should the IFP go through. I am on that list, and I would certaintly feel disillusioned, demotivated and would reconsider my position in this ecosystem - but I am not guaranteed to leave the ecosystem if the IFP goes through.

$ 0.10
5 months ago

This is a disingenuous quote taken out of context that misrepresents what ABC is saying. We are not calling any particular person or group of persons "noise." We are saying that:

Further, it is a terrible idea, and would be a bad precedent, to make technical decisions about production software based on what point of view can muster the most noise on social media.

Poor form, sir. Let's remain constructive and stop distorting things. -George

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5 months ago

Seriously, George, I won't endlessly argue here, it has no point - everything has been said already, but think about this - if IFP comes alive - all these people (whatever ABC thinks of them) will leave. They will leave, they hate IFP. Bitcoin Cash will split into two factions - ABC and these dozens of builders. There will be hash war, there will be name war, the end result will be just as BSV/BCH split - both sides will come out weaker and with much worse reputation than before. I have no idea who will come out of with with the name Bitcoin Cash, maybe even nobody, but I wouldn't be surprised if many exchanges would just delist both because of inability of BCH to stay away from drama. For us at read.cash IFP would mean the end of Bitcoin Cash experiment. Just saying... not to make a social noise, but this is exactly what is going to happen.

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5 months ago

Arguing has little point, but engaging constructively has a point.

Basically the choice you are putting to ABC is the following:

(a) continue to self sacrifice for the public good

(b) or we're going to blow everything up

Here at ABC, we are focused on building sustainably. You are talking about blowing everything up. You are basically holding a sign saying, "The End is Nigh".

We're holding a sign saying, "The Beginning is Now."

It's very nice that you have choices like coming and going, opening and closing. At ABC we keep the network secure every single day, 24/7/365. We don't have these luxuries.

I am here to build. Builders welcome.

Anyone can schedule a call with me to discuss things constructively and calmly: https://calendly.com/bitcoinabc/bizplan2020

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5 months ago

(a) continue to self sacrifice for the public good

(b) or we're going to blow everything up

Again, this is so disingenuous. Noone is asking you to self-sacrifice and Bitcoin Cash will not instantly die because you stop doing the (admittedly highly valuable) work you currently do: another group will form and do the work, probably with a whole bunch of funding, too.

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5 months ago

You are quite simply wrong, at least about the first part, and you have no basis from which to contradict me. -George

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5 months ago

Basically the choice you are putting to ABC is the following:

you're in a tough spot, yes. but I think it's pretty disingenuous to assume the victim role here. abc played a large part in creating this situation. I would also argue there are options for abc to reduce the risk. the choices you present as being "given to you" represent a false dichotomy: your not being asked to self-sacrifice by anyone.

here's a simple constructive suggestion: create a flipstarter project titled: "remove ifp code and release new version without it: 2.5 million usd" (or whatever is remaining to fill your goal), deadline: may 10th. that would leave miners 5 days to upgrade (34% upgrading will be enough) and you would have enough time to prepare a well-reviewed release. it would also show you can admit mistakes, correct them and move on with re-strengthened community support. If the flipstarter fails, just stop working.

I fear this path would imply a perceived loss of face or admission of defeat for some egos in abc, though. this is of course a false perception... everyone would win.

$ 0.20
5 months ago

What victim role? We are putting forth solutions here.

just stop working

Clearly you are not interested in building BCH, but want to propose ridiculous and extreme proposals that ultimately cause harm. -George

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5 months ago

would leave miners 5 days to upgrade

that doesnt sound good

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5 months ago

(b) or we're going to blow everything up

I'm not saying "we're going to blow everything up", I'm saying "things will blow up".

I'm not saying we'll close read.cash or something like that. We promised people that in case of a split we'll work with everyone until we find some solution that fits read.cash users - we're keeping the promise. It'll be hard though, because all of our connectivity providers (fountainhead.cash, BCHD guys, bitcoin.com) are against IFP, so I have no idea how would we support the ABC side of the split.

What I'm saying is that chaos will ensue regardless of what we think. It's a prediction of the future, not a negotiation about our position.

Many builders disagree with ABC's IFP. You won't convince them to stay with the "The Beginning is Now" sign.

EDIT: wrong link to fountainhead.cash

$ 0.10
5 months ago

I'm seeing a lot of "not"s. So how are we going to turn this thing around, in your opinion?

And don't say "remove the IFP". Tell me where the funds will come from. I did a lot of research to come up with this:

https://read.cash/@Bitcoin_ABC/how-to-fund-bitcoin-cash-protocol-development-bf1dfce8

Standing by. -George

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User's avatar Bitcoin_ABC
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5 months ago

I won't advice anything here - I'm an amateur in fundraising. I believe that you have explored your options well, but I still don't see it as a valid excuse for a potential split.

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5 months ago

If no one can come up with a better idea than the IFP, then maybe all of these people you claim are standing by to blow up BCH should reconsider their decisions and see reason.

You can't take an irrational and extreme position without providing any kind of solution that gives us a way out of it.

If we want to build BCH, we must fund it. If we must fund it, we must find the best funding solution. If no one has a better funding solution than the IFP, then the IFP is the best solution.

Someone tell me where I got it wrong. And begging off from any of the steps by saying I am wrong but you don't know what is right is weak. Time has value. We can't wait another 10 years. -George

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User's avatar Bitcoin_ABC
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5 months ago

You can't take an irrational and extreme position without providing any kind of solution that gives us a way out of it.

One solution is: someone/something other than ABC takes the role ABC fills currently.

If we want to build BCH, we must fund it. If we must fund it, we must find the best funding solution. If no one has a better funding solution than the IFP, then the IFP is the best solution.

We don't need "the best" solution. One that works is sufficient. It also sounds like you mean "we must fund abc", not "we must fund building BCH".

If you don't get funded, just stop working and see what happens.

$ 0.30
5 months ago

And don't say "remove the IFP". Tell me where the funds will come from.

those two are not mutually exclusive, you can actually combine them. see my comment 1 level higher.

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5 months ago

Here are a few more full quotes:

Decisions are made in Bitcoin by individuals taking actions based on their preferences and self-interest, not by permitting those who are loudest on social media to dictate courses of action for everyone else.

Further, it is a terrible idea, and would be a bad precedent, to make technical decisions about production software based on what point of view can muster the most noise on social media.

So, people who are "loudest on social media" (the list of dozes of builders I've sent you as a link) are not allowed by ABC to "dictate courses of action for everyone else", because their "point of view" is "noise on social media".

What exactly is distorted here?

Who is this "everyone else" whom ABC wants to please? Can we please see their names? I can see people who don't like this plan for sure, but I surely can't see this "everyone else".

Let's remain constructive

We tried to have a constructive dialogue, but we were always dismissed and disregarded, because there's this mythical "everyone else" that has the opposite view. It's really hard to "remain constructive" with ABC.

$ 0.75
5 months ago

The article does not dismiss people building on BCH as noise. Period, end of story.

Here is your constructive dialog, sir, and look at what you are doing with it. May I suggest everyone calm down so we can resume a constructive conversation please? Thank you. -George

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User's avatar Bitcoin_ABC
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5 months ago

Absolutely agree. There are a huge number of people that devote serious effort to the success of BCH, not just the ABC team. To just bunch them up as "noise on social media" is condescending and does not foster a healthy community discussion.

$ 0.10
5 months ago

the problem is how to measure the opinions of people. We know how to measure miners' and hodlers' opinions. Everything else is sadly, noise.

$ 0.00
5 months ago

I asked a very important question to you directly a few days ago that is not addressed in this writeup.

The "MinerFundDestination" BCH address ( pqv2r67sgz3qumufap3h2uuj0zfmnzuv8vqhqfgddk ) mentioned in the IFP spec -

Can we get an explanation from ABC who controls this address?

Where is this miner fund, what is its purpose and how will it be governed?

What exactly in BCH will get built if some hashpower activates this address and 5% of the block rewards start to flow to this address?

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5 months ago

It is in the queue. The production of articles takes time and we are short on time and manpower, which is the problem we are trying to solve with the IFP and https://fund.bitcoinabc.org/. Thanks for your patience.

As for your questions 2 and 3, please share your opinions of how you think it should work. Everyone please, let's answer those questions as a community. Thanks in advance. -George

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User's avatar Bitcoin_ABC
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5 months ago

the same way as everything else needs to be governed in bitcoin: https://read.cash/@Bitcoin_ABC/ifp-questions-and-answers-08522a53#comment-599b5062

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5 months ago

10mins ago I was happy, and prepping for a long weekend of BCH coding .. after reading this article and its comments, I'm having heart palpitations 😣

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5 months ago