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BitPal Flipstarter updates and FAQ

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Avatar for jonas_h
Written by   78
1 year ago
Topics: Crypto currency

We’ve gotten some good questions on the Flipstarter for BitPal and I figured it’s a good idea to collect them in a single place. I would’ve wanted to add it as an update to the Flipstarter itself, but this will have to do.

BCH’s increase in price

With a price rise of +60% the last week it’s been a good time to be a BCH holder, but it does put our Flipstarter in a bit of a weird position. We set our price to 0.3 BCH/hour, but with the rise in price that’s now too much.

Therefore to compensate we’ll put in more hours. As the volatility may continue it’s difficult to commit to the exact amount right now, but we’ll be able to decide on something if/when the Flipstarter completes.

We set our price at 0.3 BCH when it was at $440 (to $130/hour) and BCH is currently around $700, which is a 1.6x increase. So if this price holds then I expect us to commit to 280*1.6 = 448 hours (or 450 because it’s round and pretty).

This does mean that we won’t finish in July like we first estimated, and we’ll continue the work in the Autumn (after our Summer vacation).

With more time we might also do more things. In addition to the items in the Flipstarter we’ll prioritizing these things:

  • Integrations & guides

    The next big thing after having a working API is to make it easy to integrate into your website, no matter what it’s created in. Therefore we should prioritize integrations and guides for popular languages (PHP/Ruby/Python/JavaScript/…), frameworks (Laravel/Rails/Django/Node/…) and e-commerce stores (WooCommerce/Shopify/OpenCart/…). We won’t be able to do them all, but we can start working towards that goal.

  • An admin interface

    A place to to view the server status and to list and manage payments. This way the server can store the payments, without requiring the client to implement the payment tracking themselves.

  • SPV backend

    There is no one-size fits all when it comes to requirements for a payment processor. Some (most?) will be comfortable with relying on a third-party REST api, some want to go all the way to a full node and others wants to sit in the middle. By providing an SPV configuration we can provide an alternative for everyone and it would be easy to transition between them.

Again we might not be able to do everything we’ve outlined here and in the Flipstarter, but this is what we’ll be working on and we should be able to make some very good progress.

Comparison to other alternatives

There are of course alternatives to BitPal, so why should be build on BitPal instead of using or improving existing solutions?

BTCPayServer

The big competitor is BTCPayServer that’s a self-hosted solution that verifies payments using your own full node. Unfortunately they’re extremely anti-BCH and won’t support BCH.

Benefits of forking BTCPayServer

What we could do is fork BTCPayServer, or create a Bitcoin Cash plugin that users can manually install. There are some nice benefits to this:

  • Can leverage the many features of BTCPayServer

  • Can easily convert existing BTCPayServer users to BCH

  • Would be cheaper and faster to fork it than to create something from scratch

Benefits of continuing with BitPal

Despite the advantages, there are benefits to keep working on BitPal:

  • We can design the system with reliability as the core focus

    By keeping reliability in mind from the very start and by leveraging the battle-tested tools of Elixir/Erlang I think we can reach a level of fault-tolerance that’s unmatched by other solutions.

  • We can expect no support from BTCPayServer

    This means we would have to rebuild our knowledge of the system from scratch without help, offsetting some of the benefit from forking it.

  • Official BCH support

    While it’s possible to maintain a BTCPayServer fork or plugin due to the BCH hostility it’ll always be a second-class citizen. With BitPal BCH support will be front and center.

  • I’m not impressed by the code quality of BTCPayServer

    This is of course subjective and you may disagree.

  • Competition is good

    Multiple options forces everyone to improve, benefiting everyone in the crypto community.

This trade-off of funding BitPal vs a BTCPayServer plugin/fork is in my mind the biggest reason to withhold supporting our Flipstarter, so consider the pros and cons before you pledge.

(Of course I personally think BitPal is the way to go, otherwise why bother?)

BitcartCC

BitcartCC is a solution that uses SPV security to accept payments in Bitcoin Cash and some other cryptos. While SPV security is very good, BitPal allows you to verify payments using your own full node giving you increased privacy and security.

Other solutions

There are many other solutions such as BitPay, PayButton, CryptoWoo, prompt.cash, NOWPayments, rocketr, etc. The difference is that they all have some sort of third-party reliance, which creates some problems:

  • They’re not self-hosted, meaning we have to trust a third-party

  • Not open-source

  • There are fees

  • There’s KYC

  • They might only support a single cryptocurrency

    Even if the only crypto you personally support is BCH, merchants will vastly prefer a solution that supports multiple cryptos.

(They don’t all have all of the problems, I bundled them together to save time. The only real competitor I could find is BTCPayServer.)

How to make BitPal sustainable?

To make BitPal truly great, long-term maintenance would be needed and the project should therefore be sustainable (have enough funding to pay for maintenance and new development). Here are some options we’ve considered:

  • Donation driven

    Flipstarter is great and some projects are wholly donation driven (like BTCPayServer).

  • Pay for our hosted server

    Like many other solutions we could extract a fee if you want to use our hosted solution, and if you want to avoid the fee you can host it yourself.

    I’m not a big fan of requiring a fee, as it goes against the “zero fees” vision of BitPal, but it might be easier to digest if you pay for extra features of some sort.

  • Fund the development via premium support (aka consulting)

  • Create a “shifting plugin” that extracts a fee

    Meaning we could setup a third-party that exchanges cryptos for you, so you can for instance accept BTC/LTC/XMR/BCH/DGC but they’re all converted to BCH. This could even exchange fiat for you, making it a complete replacement for BitPay. (And of course it should be optional.)

    But this is a much larger commitment and it’s not something we’re interested to pursue at this moment.

We don’t have a good answer at this moment and our plan is to hopefully flipstart BitPal with donations, and then see where we’re at and reassess.

Will BitPal support other cryptos?

Yes the vision is to support most/all cryptos that people want to pay with. Monero is next in line after Bitcoin Cash, and after that we’ll see.

While we’ll use Flipstarter funds to setup the core plugin architecture, we won’t use any funds to create a plugin for other cryptos. That will have to be done outside the Flipstarter commitment.

What if the Flipstarter fails?

There’s always a possibility that the Flipstarter fails, and what would happen to BitPal then?

I’ll probably work on BitPal enough to use it to sell the digital version of my book (which was the original motivation for starting this project) and then leave it at that. Even though it’s a good project, I simply don’t have enough time to be able to push it forward without being able to take a break from other commitments.

As BitPal is open source it’s always possible for someone else to continue it forward.

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Avatar for jonas_h
Written by   78
1 year ago
Topics: Crypto currency
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Comments

We don’t have a good answer at this moment and our plan is to hopefully flipstart BitPal with donations, and then see where we’re at and reassess.

I'd like to see something more specific, but at a higher level, I think you are setting a great example by presenting all the feedback and responding to it. I know it takes a lot of time. It is what convinced me to make a pledge recently despite my concerns.

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