Together, Build Decentralization

TBD’s first projects are open for collaboration.

The team is at Bitcoin2022 in Miami, and we’ve just closed our first Milestone deliverable: contributor readiness. Like our company, these projects are young works in progress.

But it’s important we get out there, and get out there early. Open source is not a publishing platform. It’s a conversation.

In this post we’ll take a tour of what’s available. First I’ll talk a little bit about our approach to bootstrapping this community with you.

I’ve long disagreed with open source projects that are designed and built behind closed doors, only to be released once they’re deemed “ready” by some minimum standard. It robs folks of the opportunity to guide fundamental architectural decisions, and it robs the project of innovation from outside the founding team. Many popular projects have gone this route, and I can’t argue with their success. I can, however, take issue with the premature calcification this introduces. I prefer a tight feedback loop that allows us to course correct from the start. It encourages developers to be less attached to the code and more open to potential improvements.

The infrastructure we’re building is a shift in mindset from a centralized world into a decentralized one. It’s some of the most modern web technology being created today. It’s innovative. And you cannot have innovation without failure.

We won’t try to prevent failure; we’re going to embrace it as part of the process. We’ll be proud of it. We will try new things, test them out, and toss them as we discover better approaches. It’s the scientific method.

All projects in the TBD family are in early prototyping. New contributors should expect a pace of development consistent with nascent technology: larger commits, frequent refactoring, changing APIs, and incomplete featuresets. These projects are open from the start to welcome your interest, invite discussion, identify early issues, and advise on design. An early adopter mindset will work well until these projects mature further.

The Discussion forums and Issue trackers are likely the best way to get involved now. Our project leads may be able to guide your efforts and incorporate your feedback in ways that will be most meaningful to you and the project’s goals.

In particular, we want to ensure the New Contributor Experience is as smooth as possible. You should be able to:

  • Understand each project’s goals and scope
  • Install prerequisite dependencies
  • Clone and build the project
  • Run the tests
  • Join the conversation in Discussions and Issues

Today we reveal a temporary website as the entry point to TBD’s mission, projects, social channels, Angie Jones‘ excellent conversations on Twitter Spaces, and careers.

There are now four projects in the TBD family:

ssi-sdkGoStandards-based primitives for using Decentralized Identifiers and Verifiable Credentials.
ssi-serviceGoAn in-a-box service that handles the full Verifiable Credentials lifecycle, including issuance, verification, revocation, and more.
dwn-sdk-jsTypeScriptAn implementation of DIF’s emerging decentralized personal datastore standard.
tbdex-protocolJavaA playground as we iterate our way to a robust protocol. Mostly composed of tbDEX message schemas/formats and a mock PFI (Primary Financial Institution) implementation.

This suite supports development of the tbDEX protocol described in our whitepaper released last November.

The team’s done remarkable work over the past 8 weeks to make these real. They started from ideas and broke them down into components, then got to coding. Our Head of Decentralized Identity, Daniel Buchner, is the visionary behind our non-blockchain approach to identity and decentralization. Gabe Cohen leads our self-sovereign identity efforts including credential issuance and verification. Hellen Dou leads our tbDEX Message Formats and mock implementations for financial institutions. And Moe Jangda is the trailblazer across several efforts and kicked off our reference implementation of Decentralized Web Nodes.

Our Collaboration Repository is the umbrella above all the projects. It’s the place to discuss the system, component integration, and roadmap.

Our most recent Milestone outlines the deliverables released this week.

In my first post I discussed the importance of an inclusive environment, and how we’ll design for it. TBD projects follow a common:

At the close of Bitcoin2022 we’ll be scoping the next milestone, and that will be publicly available in the collaboration repository’s roadmap once done. Let’s get talking.

See you on GitHub. 🤘



An Open Approach to Financial Freedom

Why TBD is open source from the ground up.

Hi 👋🏻. My name is Andy Rubinger. I’m the Head of Open Source at TBD, Block‘s decentralized financial services business. Block, formerly Square, is rooted in a mission of economic empowerment. And for the past decade, we’ve made the economy more accessible.

At TBD, it’s our job to build digital financial systems that leave no one behind.

That’s a loaded statement. It accuses traditional financial systems of leaving people behind. And it acknowledges that digital money (e.g. Bitcoin) will positively impact the world and change people’s lives for the better, but it has a ways to go. We intend to help realize its promise. All of that is true, and I’m going to leave its analysis for another day. Today I’m going to talk about open source. Because open source drives our strategy to fix these problems.

Open source is at the heart of our lives online. It runs on our laptops, our phones, servers which power our favorite websites and messaging platforms. The web is the greatest advancement in human communication since the printing press, and open source made it possible.

That’s because open source software is built to last. When software is built under the protections of an open source compliant license, its future is not reliant on one developer, company, or organization. Healthy open source communities have many contributors, often competitors, working together on their shared goals. For as long as there are willing participants, open source projects thrive after any one party loses interest.

The services we make at TBD must be similarly built to last.

Remember, TBD is a decentralized financial services business. We promote trust in systems rather than organizations. Healthy open source software is also decentralized. And it breeds that same system-based trust.

So open source is threaded into the very ethos of TBD. It’s also behind Bitcoin and other digital intangible assets. We’re building and assembling the pieces necessary to reimagine global banking. We take our responsibility seriously, and it demands partnership. This is a worthy journey that requires the innovation and consensus of financial service providers, banks, lenders, regulatory agencies, and governments.

At the end of the story is a financial future that allows anyone with a cheap mobile phone and internet to send and receive money. No lengthy delays. No mandatory account minimums. No physical barriers to banking services. No predatory check cashing services or fees in remittance transit.

Traditional financial systems have continually shut many out of the economy, especially systemically underserved groups. We believe that the economy should be inclusive and we want to build a future where everyone can access and participate in the economy. The technologies we use  -  blockchain, cryptocurrency, decentralized identity, Bitcoin  -  are tools. Our purpose is financial freedom. This is about people.

People are also the ones building the tech. We’re going to design our engineering efforts around them. In broad terms, here’s what you can expect from our open source programs:


Anyone with the capacity to contribute: can. We will be proactive in welcoming a diverse contributor base for our code, documentation, developer relations, education, and communication efforts. Bad actors will be met with a published governance model and enforced code of conduct. Our users deserve representation in our development communities, and we will be building systems to encourage varied perspectives and respectful debate.


Decision-making will be open by default, with rare exceptions made for security, compliance, personnel, or other sensitive issues. Projects under TBD’s stewardship will conduct design, roadmap, issues, bugs, and code reviews in public. This is critical for accountability and to promote the inclusive environment necessary for project success. 


Projects need well-defined scope to succeed. They also need accessible, comprehensive documentation, a stellar Getting Started experience, and well-defined expectations. TBD will be fostering an environment built for contribution without personal intervention. Newcomers should be able to follow the project status on their own without additional explanation.

Right now, there’s one Big Thing on my desk: setting up the infrastructure which gets us building together. We can’t wait to see you there.

Financial freedom is To Be Developed. Here we go.


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