Britt Kelly joins me for the fourth and final episode in the BTCPayServer interview series.
Britt and I chat about:
- Getting into Bitcoin and BTCPayServer
- What you can learn by contributing
- Documentation of BTCPay
- Translation of BTCPay
- Tips for newbies
- Reflections on being a female in Bitcoin and open source
Britt Kelly links:
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/britttttkelly
- Britt Kelly Donation page: https://btcps0.com/apps/2CCRTE84cnbSyEsJVvDxsqq9uUJV/pos
SLP BTCPayServer series link:
- Kraken: http://www.kraken.com/?utm_source=podcast&utm_medium=stephanlivera
- Unchained Capital: https://www.unchained-capital.com/?utm_source=Stephan%20Livera&utm_medium=Referral&utm_campaign=Affiliate
Stephan Livera links:
- Follow me on twitter: https://twitter.com/stephanlivera
- Show notes and website: https://stephanlivera.com/
- Subscribe to the podcast: https://anchor.fm/stephan-livera/
- Rate and Review the podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/podcast/stephan-livera-podcast/id1415720320?mt=2
- Email contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephan Livera: Hi and welcome to the Stephan Livera Podcast focused on bitcoin and Austrian economics. Today we are closing out the BTCPayServer series with Britt Kelly. But first let me introduce the sponsors of the podcast. So firstly, checkout Kraken. Over my years in bitcoin I’ve been really impressed with the way they operate. They have a really, really strong focus on security and they have consistently acted ethically in the space. They’re one of the longest standing bitcoin exchanges, they’re consistently rated the best. They have a high quality platform, they offer some of the best liquidity possible in the industry. They’ve got high trading volume and low fees with no minimum or hidden fees. Kraken also have 24/7 support. And on the institutional and business solutions side, they offer the highest available API rate limits. There is also a Kraken OTC desk. Kraken offer a five fee out currencies and they also offer margin and futures trading. To learn more and sign up, go to the Kraken link in the show notes.
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Stephan Livera: So onto the episode with Britt Kelly from the BTCPayServer team. Britt is particularly well known for her work on the documentation and translation components of BTCPayServer. I hope you enjoy this interview. Britt, welcome to the show.
Britt Kelly: Hi. Thanks for having me.
Stephan Livera: So I’m really keen to talk to you about how you got into bitcoin and how you got into BTCPayServer because I’ve seen you’ve been doing some really impressive stuff. Let’s hear a little of your story.
Britt Kelly: Well I think the way I got into bitcoin in general is pretty standard. I mean for an American, I didn’t have any traumatic life events happen. It was just one of those things where like I felt like I was kind of getting left behind or whatever. So I kind of got into Bitcoin Twitter from Vortex and it’s kind of looking at what he is posting. And he ended up posting something about a developer seminar that he was doing with Nicolas. And I looked into BTCPayServer and I was like, “Wow, this is so cool. What’s the catch?” I think that’s what everybody thinks. So I kind of decided, well, I’m not really a developer, but maybe I should check out this developer seminar that they’re doing on in bitcoin. And so my plan was kind of like fly under the radar and sit in the back and no one would know that I wasn’t a developer.
Britt Kelly: It kind of was a bummer because I got there and only two other people signed up, which is crazy. So they were like, “Yeah, come to the front.” I was like, “Oh no, they’re going to know.” So it was kind of I don’t want to say traumatic, but it was super cool. We did some development stuff with like HD wallets and BTCPayServer and just some NBitcoin stuff. And luckily I had kind of a decent understanding of bitcoin at the time. So even though I wasn’t only a developer, I still kind of knew what’s going on, but yeah, that’s kind of how I got into bitcoin. Once I went to that, I was fully in.
Stephan Livera: Great. So about what time was this?
Britt Kelly: Oh, that was just last year. Last August I think. Yes. And not too long ago, I was just kind of sitting on the sidelines of bitcoin before that.
Stephan Livera: Cool. So I presume then after meeting Nicolas and then that was how you got into BTCPayServer and started going down that path?
Britt Kelly: Yeah, and to be honest, it all started because Vortex posted a tweet that was like, “Hey you should just come to this seminar, watch some tutorials online about C#. It’s not that hard to learn. So that’s what I did. I just watched some developer tutorials and then I went to the seminar and the rest is history.
Stephan Livera: So were you already doing some low level development or you just fully learned it all just then?
Britt Kelly: Well, I mean I went to school to be an electrical engineer. So I did a little bit of development before, but there was always a lot of tears involved. And so at this summer I was kind of like one of my first personal development embarkment. So it was cool. I literally downloaded Visual Studio an hour before the developer seminar. So if you can imagine how scary that was when no one was really there. I was like, “Oh no, I can’t sit in the back and hide.”
Stephan Livera: Okay. So then going to BTCPayServer now, what was your interest there and what were you doing there when you first got started?
Britt Kelly: Oh well actually, so Pavlenex posted this article, like, “Build an eCommerce store with BTCPay.” And he’s like, “If anybody wants to review my article let me know.” And I was like, “Oh, I got to do this tutorial.” Because I was always like, I thought at the time I was like BTCPay is really taken off. If I don’t do this tutorial, I’m going to get left behind. And so I was like, “Yeah, I’ll do it.” And it worked fine. I made eCommerce my first eCommerce store, my first WordPress website, the whole thing just to set up a BTCPay. So it was so cool. But it was funny because I corrected all these spelling errors that he had and he didn’t change any of them. I was like, “Pav, come on, why did you ask for my help?” But either way, I ended up making a website, but he’s my friend, so I got to give him crap for that.
Stephan Livera: Okay. And then, so what was next for you in BTCPayServer?
Britt Kelly: Oh, so then after that I kind of was hanging out in the chats, kind of just lurking around wishing I knew answers to anyone’s questions, but I really didn’t. I was just, I started BTCPayServer. I have an instance, but I didn’t really know anything about it. And someone asked about doing a translation and I was like, “Oh, that’s a good idea, I should do that.” And I speak some Spanish. So I was thinking oh, I should do the Spanish translation of the invoice. And I went to go do it and it was already done. So I was like, “Damn it. It’s just to contribute to this project.” Right. But I know a lot of people that speak different languages and my family has a language school. And so I contacted some non-native English speakers about doing a translation project for at the time I just said for helping me with my website. Yeah. I wasn’t sure if they were all really interested in that going.
Britt Kelly: And then I ended up telling them that’s what it’s for. And they’re like so excited. They were like, “Oh wow, I can’t believe I’m contributing to this.” I was like, “Yeah.” But basically I did kind of a project management thing of getting translations for the invoice page and putting them in the code repository. But the problem was that the way it was set up, it was kind of like a lot of versioning of the languages. We didn’t really have like a good translation set up. And so at the time I kind of felt like I was making more problems for Nicolas and Kukks and Rockstar because it was all these languages getting added and each time the source code changes, you kind of need to update the language.
Britt Kelly: And so some were left behind and not getting updated. And then, I don’t know who suggested it, but I think maybe Nicolas or Pav suggested using Transifex like Bitcoin Core repository does. And it was so funny because Kukks is trying to help me set it up and he’s telling me something. And at the time I was like, “I don’t even know what a JSON is. I can’t do any of this stuff.” It’s kind of funny, but I definitely learned a lot and Kukks is the one that I think did most of the implementation of Transifex, which is what we use now for the language.
Stephan Livera: Can you tell us a little bit about Transifex? What is it? How does that work?
Britt Kelly: Yeah. So just like Bitcoin Core uses it too, you can have your source code on GitHub, but then it also will take translations from this website called Transifex. And so then users can go there and translate a software without having to make polar requests and have it GitHub and have your own for other repository and all that stuff. You can just go to a website and the lines that you need to translate just show up and you just translate, press enter, it’s super easy. And then Nicolas developed some cool tooling so it pulls it automatically so they get updated really quickly. You don’t have to wait a long time after you do your translation for it to show up in BTCPay.
Stephan Livera: Yeah. This is a great example because it shows that you don’t actually have to be a developer to contribute. So there’s lots of ways that you have been contributing even without doing direct development.
Britt Kelly: Yeah. The actually kind of funny thing is that I went to an Andreas talk before this whole translation idea that I had and one of his big things was that he was like, “Look, we got to get more of this bitcoin stuff in other languages. It cannot all just be in English. The people who need to use it are in other countries other than just English speaking countries. If we want full adoption, we need to get this stuff in more languages.” And so that’s when I was like, “Oh, okay, maybe I can try to do that.” Because I knew a lot of people that spoke other languages and I just felt like it needed some coordination in a way. So yeah, there’s tons of stuff that you can do without being a developer, that’s one of them, documentation too.
Stephan Livera: So let’s talk about how you manage that process then of translations. Do you farm it out to certain individuals who you know or is it more just like a volunteer system? And then is there some kind of review of that? How does it work?
Britt Kelly: Well, now that it’s really pretty well set up in Transifex, it’s basically all automated at this point. We update the source code on Transifex and then anyone who’s been a previous translator can subscribe to any of those changes and they’ll get an alert saying they have new strings to translate. But basically if someone is not a contributor yet, it’s just open to anyone. I guess a lot of people use Transifex kind of in the way that some people use GitHub kind of doing daily activity and getting points for it. So if you are a translator, you can use Transifex kind of as a tool to get kind of open-source contribution stuff.
Britt Kelly: So it’s really open to anyone when there’s a lot of people for one language like Spanish I think has quite a few translators. I think there’s a few other languages too. I usually try to sort of give a little bit of hierarchy in the languages. So if you’ve been a contributor for a long time you can review the new translators work and change it or accept or deny whatever. Because obviously I don’t speak most of the languages, so I can’t really say who’s right and wrong or who’s better or not. It’s kind of whether or not you contribute regularly.
Stephan Livera: Right. And how about documentation? Do you want to tell us a little of your involvement in that?
Britt Kelly: Yeah, sure. I guess I kind of just gravitated towards the documentation because I’m a huge believer in people taking the initiative to learn new skills just because that’s how I’ve been in my career and in my life. If you want to do something it just takes time to do it. But it definitely helps when other people can give you guidance. And that’s one of the nice things about all these open-source projects is that people really give a lot of their time and effort and documenting it is a huge part of that. And I really was inspired by a lot of the documenting that Pavlenex did, who’s also a BTCPay contributor and he’s written some great articles. He’s made a ton of videos and I’ve learned so much from him about what a lot of things are.
Britt Kelly: And personally I’m not an expert in a lot of BTC related things like Docker and other stuff like that. And so just using it a lot, anytime you learn something, if you can contribute to the documentation to help someone else, you might as well just take the time to do it. Because if you can teach someone and then they can teach someone and then we’re all learning new stuff just by using this software. Even if you’re not a developer, you can still learn just by using software and looking at problems.
Stephan Livera: So what are some good examples then for the listener who might not be so familiar with BTCPayServer?
Britt Kelly: Of just things you can kind of learn from BTCPay and the documentation?
Stephan Livera: Yeah, so an example might be what process might need to get documented. So, okay, the process of loading up a new store or the process of installing it.
Britt Kelly: Yeah, definitely. So the thing about BTCPay documentation is that because there are, so BTCPay is really a big software package. I mean it’s not huge in terms of code base, but as far as functionality, you can really do a lot. You can have your own store, you can build your own apps like the point-of-sale system or crowdfunding app. But you can also do a lot of things like you use Ride The Lightning and other lightning services. You can use your full node that’s included with BTCPay to connect to other services. There’s just really quite a lot you can do. And documenting some of the features is super important. My favorite feature personally is payment requests. I think it’s one of the biggest underrated features of BTCPay that Kukks developed.
Britt Kelly: It’s basically long lived invoices. So if someone needs to pay you, you can send them an invoice and they can pay it later on. So instead of sending someone just an address or a QR code you can actually send someone an invoice or just a link essentially and they can open that later and it will use the current conversion rates. You don’t have to do this back and forth of what’s the price now, what was the price then, it will just keep automatically updating to the price now. And it’s really a cool feature but kind of underrated. So documenting stuff like that where it’s kind of like BTCPay software like nerdy stuff. But I think it’s really cool and really helpful for people just like documenting it so people can see like, “Oh, I don’t need to have an eCommerce store for this to be helpful.”
Britt Kelly: Another good example is like you can make a tips link page just like a single page with a tips button for your Twitter or whatever. You can do that with BTCPay in about five minutes, it’s super easy and it’s just a simple point-of-sale system with just one button. And so I think a lot of people would use that if they knew how easy it was to make. So it’s just getting things out there in a way that isn’t so scary, it’s really easy. You don’t need to be having a full-fledged eCommerce store to use so many of the services.
Stephan Livera: Some of that may be a generational gap as well. I noticed sometimes a quick example, even when I’m trying to teach my parents something, they might be a bit more afraid that they’re going to break it. Whereas with some of these things it’s more like you just have to play around with them until you get comfortable with how to do it.
Britt Kelly: Yeah, definitely. I think that some UX development in terms of BTCPay could be a little bit helpful. I think that it’s definitely kind of geared towards people who are used to using eCommerce software or even more bitcoin related software. You have to set up your wallet and if you’re not really familiar with Bitcoin, I think that’s kind of a confusing process. I need to get an xPub key and I need to put that into this and then I need to check my addresses. If I do that, then everything is set up. That’s kind of the major thing that you need to do. And I think that’s definitely a kind of abstract concept if you’re really not used to using any bitcoin eCommerce tools. But we are trying to work on a startup wizard for new users. It’s been something that we’ve been talking about for a long time of how we can make it be a little bit more just clicking through instead of deploying this whole thing and then having to know what to do with it.
Stephan Livera: Right. Because right now it might be seen like hardcore bitcoiners know what BTCPayServer is, they may not have used it, but if their friend who wants to set up a store came to ask them, then they could probably figure it out just because they sort of understand bitcoin. They know what an xPub is, that kind of thing. But I suppose for those of us who are trying to help more and more newbies come in, then it’s a question of how do they get the right resource if you’re not a bitcoiner, if you’re just trying to set up your own shop to take bitcoin payment, how do they learn?
Britt Kelly: Yeah, definitely creating the GitBook, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen our documentation that’s kind of been transferred into the GitBook webpage. I think making more traditional front facing documentation is a lot better for users who aren’t super techie. I think it helps kind of a scary place if you’re not really a developer or even kind of tech person. I don’t think regular users should ever have to go to GitHub to be honest. I think that’s like a little intimidating. So stuff like that.
Stephan Livera: So tell us a little about GitBook and why that’s different.
Britt Kelly: Sure. Yeah. It just looks more like a regular website. Everything is kind of behind the scenes on GitHub, but it comes through onto this website that looks like regular website and it’s colorful, it doesn’t have view the read me repo doc something, something, it’s a lot more smooth and looks a lot more similar to what people are expecting when you look up documentation and you think is this real or is this a scam or something? I think the more similar your documentation can be and your resources for the software, the better off you’ll be at having people want to accept it as something legitimate, like the legitimate operation.
Stephan Livera: Right. Because it looks a little bit professional. There’s a few images, there’s a bit of a color scheme that’s aligned with the normal BTCPayServer website. So just to the listeners, this is where if you go to docs.btcpayserver.org, correct?
Britt Kelly: Correct.
Stephan Livera: Yeah. And so if you go through there, you can see up the top, they’ve got Use Case, Walkthrough, Getting Started, BTCPayServer versus other processes and try it out. Do you want to just talk to some of those and how that might help a new merchant get started?
Britt Kelly: Sure. We try to do the documentation in a way that gives kind of calls to action. So we have like choosing the deployment method. That’s kind of the first step. Once you’re ready to get started. But the basics is shown there. And that’s kind of why should I choose BTCPay? Or what are the use cases, how does it work? Even just trying it out, you don’t have to deploy a server. I know that like BTCPayServer sounds like you need to buy a server and put it in a server rack or something, that’s not true at all. You can just use demo servers that BTCPay offers and you can visit those there and you can see just the services, what it’s like. You can test the interfaces, you can create a crowdfunding app and see how everything is.
Britt Kelly: But then below that it’s kind of like the calls to action about how do you deploy it and then once you’ve deployed it, what can you do with it? And then there are sections for integrations. How can I connect it to my eCommerce site if I have one? If you have a WordPress website, it’s really easy. There’s a BTCPay woocommerce plugin and yeah, there’s also stuff on development too. BTCPay is really good if you’re interested in bitcoin development or even sort of application development. It’s definitely something that’s good for learning because there’s a really good testing environment. You can run it in Testnet or on Regtest and we’ve been trying to improve our development documentation. If anyone out there has any suggestions or checks it out and wants more info related to how you can get started developing with BTCPay, definitely come in the chat, which is our Mattermost chat and there’s links to all of our chats on the docs.btcpayserver.org.
Britt Kelly: But I’m super interested in mentoring anyone who wants to get into development because I’ve learned a lot from the BTCPay contributors myself and so I definitely am willing to help anyone else if you just need help getting your BTCPayServer like repository set up or your GitHub, anything like that. Just come in the chat, which by the way, our Mattermost chat is really fun. If you just like hanging out with bitcoiners and talking about BTCPay, definitely come and join.
Stephan Livera: Fantastic. Tell us a little bit about what you’ve learned over this time that you’ve been a contributor.
Britt Kelly: I think one of the biggest things that I’ve learned is it’s really important to just stick with it. Once I kind of finished doing the translation staff and that became automated, it was kind of, well I guess I’m kind of done contributing to this project or I don’t know what else I can do or something like that. But personally I just think you really need to be kind of resilient in your open-source contributions. But that’s just a personal philosophy that I have that I’m contributing to open-source, what is kind of a return on your investment. But I definitely think just sticking with it and being kind of a reliable resource to a project if you’re looking for something to do, pick a project, get involved and lots of things will happen because of it. I definitely am a firm believer in that and it’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned from contributing to BTCPay.
Stephan Livera: Awesome. Let’s talk about BTCPayServer and the community around it. What’s your experience been being a part of that and helping grow that?
Britt Kelly: Oh, well, personally I like to really try hard to sort of create a community environment with BTCPay. I mean, everyone’s doing that naturally, but since I’m not really a hardcore developer, part of what my contribution is, at least from my perspective, is really trying to make sure that the community is inclusive and when new members come in welcoming them and a lot of times new members will come and ask a lot of the same questions and just taking a deep breath and welcoming them and suggesting to read the documentation I think is really helpful for the community. Especially a lot of I mean if you think like Nicolas has been like .NET fan boy of the universe for a million years. And so if he’s getting all of these newbie questions forever, I think he probably might go crazy.
Britt Kelly: So I definitely try to make sort of an inclusive environment for new people, especially just because they’ve been super welcoming to me and helped me get involved. And so I want to return that fever but also as a community, we’re all really good friends and we all basically, we don’t spend time together because we work remote in chats and stuff. But we’re definitely all really of each other and we’re really excited when anyone contributes something that obviously took a lot of time and effort and it’s really exciting for everyone because we all feel like are kind of a part of the BTCPay team, even if you’re just a merchant. And that the BTCPay team is huge. If you’re in the Mattermost chat or you are in the Slack chat or even if you’re in the Telegram chat, we’re all kind of connected to each other and it’s just a really fun time.
Stephan Livera: That’s awesome. Britt, I want to hear about some of your experiences just as a female working in the team as well. So were people welcoming? Did you get constructive feedback?
Britt Kelly: Yeah, definitely. Basically, ever since I went to that seminar with Nicolas and Vortex, I just knew that the community was really respectful even going to that and having basically zero developer experience and it was a developer seminar I definitely could’ve felt awkward. They could have been like left me behind and or, “Hey, you’ll catch up after the seminar or something.” It wasn’t like that at all. They waited and made sure that everyone had every step of the way and everyone understood. And that’s kind of how it’s been with BTCPay as well is that if I ask someone a question like Rockstar or sometimes even I’ll make a pull request and Nicolas will comment and say, “That’s not really an efficient way to solve that problem or something in the code. I’m just trying to solve it. I’m just doing my best and so I can’t figure it out. Rock star will make a better solution.”
Britt Kelly: And so we’re all here to help each other. And I definitely feel like everyone is really respectful and to be honest, I know there’s a lot of people in sort of the cryptocurrency space in general that have this idea that, “Oh, there’s so many men, it’s not diverse.” And I just think that I’m lucky to come from a place where I don’t feel that being woman is a disadvantage. And I don’t think everyone has that. So it’s kind of relative to my perspective. But as far as my experience, I think that if you find yourself in an environment where you’re the diversity that highlights your strengths.
Britt Kelly: So wherever you stand out, what makes you different from everyone else, those are your strengths and you should like capitalize on those. And so being a woman in cryptocurrency, or bitcoin in general is such an opportunity. There’s a lot of your skills that other people don’t have. So that’s kind of my whole philosophy on the diversity thing is that I think it’s an opportunity for a lot of people. But in terms of BTCPay, everyone’s been so respectful to me and basically they don’t treat me any different, we all make fun of each other and give each other a hard time. It’s great.
Stephan Livera: Would you say, I don’t know whether you’ve gone to any Ethereum meetups or anything like that, was your sense of it that Ethereum was more welcoming to females?
Britt Kelly: Ooh, that’s a good question. I don’t know if I’m really qualified to answer how the lady Ether people are feeling, but I did go to an Ethereum meetup kind of by accident once. I tried to go to an Andreas meetup here I live and it was kind of funny because everyone had these colorful shirts on and these little bracelets and I knew right away that something was off. I went in and it was such a young crowd. Normally bitcoin meetups is kind of a little older crowd. And I was one of the oldest people there. I was like, “Oh wow.” So something was off and yeah, they kept saying, “Are you going to ETH Denver? Are you going to ETH Denver?”
Britt Kelly: I was like, “Eat, eat Denver. What?” I couldn’t understand that. And then I figured that there was, apparently it was a huge Ethereum conference. I said, “No.” But once they kind of figured out that I was a little bit of an insurgent, they were pretty nice. They were telling me some crazy stuff about Ethereum that I don’t know anything about Ethereum and it was just really interesting. So they were pretty welcoming to me too, for sure. They had a lot of questions about Nicolas. Mostly they were like, “What’s it like to work with Nicolas?” I’m like, “I don’t know, he’s on the Internet. That’s how we all are.” So I think in general, in a lot of tech environments that I’ve been a part of I’ve had a great experience to be honest.
Stephan Livera: Yeah. That’s great. What about this idea of people online, many people speak of bitcoin as a meritocratic culture. Do you see any sort of contrast or alignment with the inclusivity idea there?
Britt Kelly: Yeah, I think it kind of depends on your perspective of whether or not contributing to open-source provides value to you as in terms of a meritocracy being whether or not what you are doing gives you merit so that you can have sort of hierarchy of individuals in the organization. I definitely think that depends on each person’s relative perspective of the value that’s returned from that open-source contribution. Whereas a lot of people, you can see in the BTCPay chats, people will come in all the time and they’ll say things like, “I’m a little worried that BTCPay is free.” This is a big one that comes up that like, “What’s the catch? I’m worried about you guys. Like you need to start charging.” We’re always like, “Why, why?”
Britt Kelly: And they’re like, “Well you can’t just volunteer forever.” And we’re all like, “Why not?” And so I think that there’s sort of a spectrum of people’s ability to perceive value being gained from open-source contributions. I don’t think that’s set in stone. It’s not like you’ll always be like that. But I certainly think that when you’re just getting into open-source space, you sort of don’t really understand the value that you can get from contributing. And once you are getting involved in a lot of open-source projects, you realize that the things that you learn, the opportunities that you get from kind of networking or even just the skills that you learn of working on a project. It could be anything. I definitely think that if you keep trying and you keep working at a project over time basically you and your peers sort of recognize collectively who should receive more merit in the project or whatever.
Britt Kelly: It becomes apparent. It’s definitely kind of like Red Hat philosophy of instead of this corporate hierarchy, separation of knowledge, only the people at the top know the most. And then below that they only know somewhat and below that they only know somewhat. And so then that hierarchy of information being shared, it sort of creates this environment where certain people aren’t able to make choices about the organization because they don’t have the big picture. But in an open-source, an open model community style, development culture it’s really clear. It’s pretty clear if someone can do something they should do it. And it’s just a lot easier when people can kind of self-identify the problems that they want to solve and the tasks that they want to work on. And I think that in general that meritocracy sort of just happens naturally.
Stephan Livera: Excellent answer. I’m mostly curious around your earlier comment about sustainability, right? So you were saying that some people come in the chat and they say, “Oh, hang on, how can you guys keep doing this?” Yeah. Well, do you have any comments around the sustainability of BTCPayServer and the team and the people working on it?
Britt Kelly: Yeah, absolutely. So I guess in terms of sustainability, normally there’s kind of three parts to just any sustainable organization. Usually that’s like the environment, the equity, the people involved and also the economics. So obviously economics is a huge factor in the sustainability of an organization. But I think that in terms of BTCPay, we just have this idea that we’re building these tools because we need them and we’re using them. This is kind of the whole dogfooding philosophy. And so this idea of the economics of sustainability in terms of this organization I think kind of is not necessarily in terms of currency being taken in by the organization. It’s more or less the contributors are getting paid in the value that they receive from contributing to the organization. And so the organization as a whole I think could certainly benefit from having more donations and more capital for sure.
Britt Kelly: I definitely think that it would be nice if we could have full time employees contributing to the project, but I think that the whole idea of BTCPay is that we’re building solutions that we need and that’s each and every one of us. Whether you’re just a merchant who installed BTCPay and you’re using it on your website from that kind of person all the way to core developers, everyone’s using it just because they need it. And personally, I don’t necessarily think that people who are contributing to the project or doing it because they’re expecting a financial return on their investment. And in a lot of ways there’s kind of this idea in bitcoin of what are you doing every single day to make the value of bitcoin increase? Sure, you can hold bitcoin for sure. That’s helping. Definitely.
Britt Kelly: But besides that, what are you doing every single day to make your own investment be worth more money? And contributing to open-source projects, contributing to the community, contributing to the network by building tools, helping teach others, whether you’re writing books, whatever it is. That’s the real return on your investment. And as soon as BTCPay is more widely used, I definitely think that there’s an opportunity for there to be more of a service oriented aspect to BTCPay. But in terms of sustainability, I think that the contributors are all contributing just because there is enough value just contributing because we’re all using the software and a lot of people are just using it to learn. Like myself, I basically got into it just to learn about how to be a developer, to learn more about bitcoin.
Britt Kelly: There’s actually really cool kind of development tools you can use where you can pay a transaction to yourself using the command line. I mean pretty easy to set up and you can see the transaction gets approved. And it goes in a small mini network that you build so you can mine your own block and then send money from that mining to your own self. It’s really cool. If you want to learn more about how transactions work behind the scenes, it’s definitely a great way to learn about bitcoin transactions are, I don’t want to say it’s like the bread and butter of bitcoin, but it’s definitely a way to kind of zoom in on what’s happening in the bitcoin network from a node perspective.
Stephan Livera: Excellent. So I think there’s a lot there. We can talk about the ways in which you can learn more about bitcoin and also the ways in which you can contribute to some sort of project, whether that’s an educational one, whether that’s coding itself. Let’s talk a little bit about contribution to BTCPayServer. And from your point of view, let’s say there’s a listener now and they’re interested to try and be a part of BTCPayServer. What should their next steps be?
Britt Kelly: Well first I suggest looking at the documentation docs.btcpayserver.org. Definitely looking at the documentation, there’s some good articles in there that aren’t just BTCPay tech stuff. I wrote one article is sort of like BTCPay versus other payment processors. If you want to kind of just figure out what BTCPay is in terms of comparison, kind of start there. There’s definitely lots of good FAQ general questions, but if you know what BTCPay is, you’ve seen it on Twitter or whatever, you kind of know, you’re like, “Okay, this seems cool. I want to contribute but I don’t know what to do.” We’ve all been there for sure. Just come in to the chats and come in to any channel and just let us know, “Hey, I want to contribute.”. Pavlenex has a job for you, trust me.
Britt Kelly: He’s got a whole list of things for anybody. He’s a really cool kind of project manager person that I really look up to. And if you tell him or me, anyone in the chat just come in and we’ll usually say, “Well what do you like to do? What are you good at? What do you want to learn?” Because there’s just a whole spectrum from like UX stuff. There’s a channel just for UX in our website, the btcpayserver.org website, if you are a web developer and you have ideas, come in and let us know how we can make the website look better, look more official. Come in and let us know if you wanted work on documentation or if you want to improve our developer documentation just by you trying it out. That’s a really good one. So essentially I’d say the process would be, check out the docs, come into our chat, say hi, don’t be shy. Just let us know what you like to do and let us know how you want to learn by using BTCPay. And we’re happy to help get anybody started.
Stephan Livera: Excellent. And how about now if somebody is listening now and they either want to set up the store, a BTCPayServer themselves for a store or they’ve got a friend and they want to try and get their friend to use BTCPayServer, do you have any tips for them?
Britt Kelly: Yeah, definitely. So if you think you want to set up BTCPayServer and you think you have a lot of friends that maybe would be interested too, but maybe you have to kind of lead the way. I feel like that’s pretty common. What you can actually do is you can set up a BTCPayServer, deploy it to the cloud. You don’t need to have physical stuff set up. It’s pretty easy. We have a one click set up, it’s $10 a month. And because you’re the server owner, you can actually allow an unlimited number of other users, like your friends to also create BTCPay accounts on your server. So the only real functionality that they wouldn’t be able to receive being on your server is that usually there’s only one lightning network node per server.
Britt Kelly: So, but everything else like the point-of-sale system, crowd funding, the payment requests I was mentioning, you can do all that stuff using someone else’s server and it’s really easy and yeah, you can show your friends. It’s similar to how we do the demo server on our website, those demo servers, you can create an account on those. It’s also similar to what we call third party hosts. I know in bitcoin we’re very anti-third party. So it’s kind of like we’re not sure about that term, it doesn’t sound the best, but it essentially means that there are some providers currently who we have listed on BTCPayServer website who provide or essentially allow users to register on their server.
Britt Kelly: And mostly they’re doing that out of the goodness of their heart to let people jump start the learning process of using BTCPay. And if you get a chance and if you use any of the third party hosts, definitely consider making a donation to them for running a server on your behalf if you’re using those services because it’s a huge help for new users to be able to just register and start using BTCPay and not having to wait for the blockchain to sync on your own server, it takes about two days using our one click, the fast deployment method.
Stephan Livera: And I guess we just clarify here that even if they are using a third party host, they can still use a setup where they’ve got a hardware wallet with the private keys on it and that server doesn’t actually hold the keys. It’s just using the node from that.
Britt Kelly: Yeah, absolutely. So it’s totally safe. There is actually a third party host document in the documentation if you really want to see all the trade-offs, obviously there are some trade-offs. If you’re not using your own full node, you always want to use your own full node. That’s kind of the secret to life, but it’s totally safe.
Stephan Livera: Yup. Great. And how would you just contrast the different deployment methods? So let’s say I’m a new merchant, I don’t know too much about bitcoin. How should I think about the different deployment methods or options available to me?
Britt Kelly: Sure. Okay. If you’re a new to BTCPayServer, I definitely recommend getting started with a third party host. You can get set up in about 10, 20 minutes depending on how easy it is for you to navigate your own wallet. It’s really easy to set up, but if you’re ready, you are a merchant and you’re ready to set it up for production I definitely recommend checking out the Luna Node guide that is on the documentation. We have basically install scripts set up so you can just click a few buttons and everything will deploy. And that’s the easiest way in my opinion. If you really want to have a lot more control, you can always use the Azure deployment method and there are other ways to deploy too, you can use Google Cloud or AWS.
Britt Kelly: So there’s tons of different ways, but, yeah, just take it one step at a time. The worst thing you can do is get overwhelmed and think, “Oh my gosh, I have to make this whole server. Or this is way too hard.” You don’t have to do it on Raspberry Pi first if you don’t want to, just check out the third party host or the demo site. Set everything up in 10 minutes. It’s not that hard. Just check it out. Because once you do you’ll totally love it. I know that anyone who sees the actual interface and everything you can do. You’ll see why we’re all thinking it’s so cool.
Stephan Livera: Awesome. Let’s talk about the future of BTCPayServer. What are your views on that in terms of, let’s talk about things that you would like to work on in the future.
Britt Kelly: Well, I think that the apps that we have are definitely good for getting new users interested in BTCPay. So by those apps I’m referring to the crowdfunding app or the point-of-sale system. Personally I have a lot of experience in food service industry. Before I was an engineer, I was a waitress for a long time, so I’m really used to using a lot of point-of-sale systems and I know how important they are, especially in the US here, everyone is using point-of-sale system, whether it’s like Square or Clover, basically it’s all really standard stuff and it would be nice to really build out the POS in ways that are helpful for a lot of the service related industries. But as far as BTCPay in general from a big perspective picture, I think that sort of taking BTCPay into sort of a full node experience, developing the full node experience is really important.
Britt Kelly: And a lot of people probably don’t use BTCPay and think, oh, this is the full node experience. I don’t think that’s anyone’s conclusion. But that’s kind of what it is. I mean, whether you’re using your lightning node or just regular bitcoin node, you’re sort of using that and then NBXplorer is watching the transactions and everything, which is the underlying UTXO tracker, which is kind of a part of BTCPay. And then BTCPay kind of takes all that information and populates this app and it gives you all this cool functionality. And for me personally, I think building BTCPay in a way that other developers can use it for their projects is super important. And I don’t know exactly what those future projects are, but things like being able to connect your BTCPay to services like Bisq or being able to connect your BTCPay to other cool projects like Wasabi or something and in a way that’s kind of just using your full node too.
Britt Kelly: So I kind of see it definitely moving towards I don’t really think it should be called a support service, but in a way, kind of a base layer application on top of bitcoin that other projects can connect to easily and use.
Stephan Livera: Yeah, it’s really fascinating to hear some of these ideas around how it could be developed out further. I think that’s pretty much all the questions I had. So look, before we let you go, where can the listeners, where can they find you and where can they send you all the fan mail?
Britt Kelly: Oh, the fan mail. I’m on Twitter, I guess. It’s Britt with 5 T’s and then a K I think, something like that. Otherwise just come in one of the BTCPay chats. I’m usually in there and there’s also, like I said, a really fun community. I see a lot of people on Twitter and stuff and they’ll be like, “What’s something I can get into? I have free time. What’s something I should learn? What’s a project I should do?” And if you’re one of those people, just come into the chat and see some of the questions that people are asking. A lot of times it’s just bitcoin questions or just lightning questions. And I think it’s a really fun environment to just help each other and definitely come into the chats and say hi.
Stephan Livera: Okay. Well I think that’s pretty much it. I’ve really enjoyed chatting with you. Thanks for coming on, Britt.
Britt Kelly: Yeah, thanks for having me. And thanks for having the BTCPay team on your podcast series.
Stephan Livera: So that concludes the BTCPayServer series. We have heard now from Rockstar Dev, Pavlenex, Kukks, and Britt Kelly. Also there is the earlier interview with Nicolas Dorier as well. So hopefully you guys have got some insight into BTCPayServer and you might be interested to contribute whether that’s development, whether that’s translation, whether that’s documentation or some other way or maybe you just want to donate some sats to them as well. My hope is that the bitcoiners out there and more comfortable to use it themselves and to recommend it to their friends and coach them through how to set it up. So hopefully you’ve got some value out of this series. Also, let me know what you guys think of this idea of doing interview series just generally as I do have some ideas on series that I can do going forward.
Stephan Livera: Anyway, if you want to subscribe to the podcast or get the show notes, remember, you can find that at stephanlivera.com, rate, review and share it with your friends. Any feedback you can DM me on twitter @stephanlivera or email me at email@example.com. That’s it from me guys. Thanks and I’ll speak to you soon.