The BitGreen Ecosystem
When everything is subject to money, then the scarcity of money makes everything scarce, including the basis of human life and happiness. …Is it too much to ask, to live in a world where our human gifts go toward the benefit of all? Where our daily activities contribute to the healing of the biosphere and the well-being of other people?
— Charles Eisenstein
BitGreen dates its origins to 2017, launched as an academic exercise by a team distributed at US Universities and developers from Europe & Australia, backed by a nascent global community of mission-driven technologists and crypto enthusiasts. The initial mission was as simply worded as it was ambitious – to build a green alternative to Bitcoin—Bitcoin, just based on Proof of Stake instead of Proof of Work. The team was inspired by the breakthrough potential of Blockchain technology, and the inherent values in the design of the Bitcoin protocol, yet were aware of the dire consequences global adoption of the protocol would have on the biosphere. As reported by researchers in the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, If the network of computers currently mining Bitcoin were a country, they would rank as the 49th largest consumer of electricity. And while Bitcoin was far from the top energy offenders on Earth, why add undue burden on the environment, when an alternative path was possible?
November of 2019 marked the first great milestone for the BitGreen community. Transition to the 2.0 blockchain protocol, built from the ground up, just as the original Bitcoin protocol by Satoshi Nakamoto. BitGreen’s 2.0 blockchain protocol, with its unique application of Proof of Stake Consenus marked a culminating moment for our cause by consuming only 0.6% of the energy consumption of the original Bitcoin Protocol. With the BitGreen foundation formally incorporated as a nonprofit organization, and a growing global network of supporters propelling the project onwards, the BitGreen community has set a new, even more audacious goal.
The following lays out the vision and roadmap for how BITG, the unit of value created by the BitGreen blockchain, can emerge as the first globally adopted impact-based currency, catalyzing the global movement of everyday change heroes.
The Story of Money
BitGreen launched a new kind of money. Money is a unit of measurement, a store of value, a means of exchange – a manmade story. The story of money is as controversial as it is fundamental to the understanding of the dominant human society most of us reading this document live in.
Economic Historians, from Adam Smith onwards, tell of a past in which human civilization commenced with barter as the means of cooperation. Money was then introduced as a tool of efficiency, which in turn catalyzed the ascent of humanity — the rise of complexity, structure and order; from simple ancestral shrines to awe-inspiring cathedrals. From mere survival to matte finished Lamborghinis. Unfortunately, that story simply is not true.
In his 2014 work, Debt: the first 5,000 years anthropologist David Graeber points out that there, in fact, is little evidence of a barter system ever holding dominance. Rather, this fabricated state was an ideological necessity. “By beginning with barter as the basic economic transaction, the classical economists were able to recast economic agency in traditional societies, which was no doubt communal (i.e. credit-based), as occurring in an abstracted, depersonalized trading market in which every exchange led to a perfectly balanced account. If barter is the natural state, debt is a failure, a default, and not an inherent part of the human condition.” (The New Antique, 2019). Most of the commercial transactions during mankind’s existence were actually performed through a system of gift-giving. Social ties and informal exchange are far messier methods than barter and debt, making for an inconvenient foundation for modern economics, and thus were largely erased from the history books.”
This lie is fundamental, as the story of money as we know it is really one of debt. If, as Graeber points to, barter is the natural state, then debt is failure, rather than a means for communal solidarity. And as money becomes the dominant commercial instrument, everything becomes monetized, including humans. If everything — goods, natural resources, time, humans — has a monetary value attached to it, then everything can be owned, bought and owed. And if something lacks monetary value, say someone’s hopes or the act of caring for one’s own ailing sibling, it isn’t counted – it’s worthless.
Inseparable from debt, the story of money is likewise underpinned by scarcity. Scarcity grinds the gears, as it taps on humanity’s survival instinct to drive the system onwards. It is baked into the very identity of money, and interest-bearing debt. This means, simply, that nothing is enough. This means that everything must be commodified and sold. Natural resources are packaged and sold. Human connection is made into a service.
Thus far, the story of money is one of the self – of objectifying everyone, and everything. It’s a story of pyrrhic mastery, where what we own defines us, at the cost of what makes us human – connection, trust, and love.
There is no doubt that Money, and the system through which it is employed, has also been the catalyst of incredible achievements. As a mechanism for coordination, it led humanity to space exploration, facilitated the construction of world wonders, and has raised both life expectancy and, by certain measures, quality of living for many. Money is not immoral, but rather amoral, malleable towards either side of the moral spectrum. With BITG, the BitGreen foundation offers a thesis for bending the historical arc of money towards justice.
As detailed above, the story of BITG is rooted firmly in an impact-focused vision. Its creation was an act of conservation, of offering the crypto community an alternative that prevents needless waste and environmental harm. This clean moral slate offers a sound foundation for launching the BitGreen impact ecosystem.
The BitGreen Ecosystem
Money is of value only as long as people believe it so. This axiom is true for any token, physical or virtual, that is knighted by the collective belief of it’s worth. This perception of value is validated by the exhibited volume of a currency’s usage. In other words, if one observes that a certain currency is accepted in exchange for goods and services everywhere, they would assume that the currency is worth holding onto. The success of a currency depends on perceived value and velocity.
To achieve both, the BitGreen Foundation has laid out plans for creating an ecosystem of partnerships that would enable community members to both earn and spend BITG in a manner that generates positive impact and common good. This growing collection of impact actions, sustainable purchasing options, and donation opportunities, each with a loop mechanism that incentivizes further action, make up a ‘flywheel’ that propels volume of BITG exchange, user acquisition and loyalty, and a growing perception of value. The following section provides a detailed overview of the impact ecosystem and the partners who’ll comprise it.
The everyday impactful actions for which community members can earn BITG make up the core of the BitGreen impact ecosystem. Volunteering one’s time, using a local bike-share program, recycling electronics or opting into a compost program — the range of potential opportunities for everyday impact is vast. Setting the roadmap for which actions take priority will rely on two stakeholder groups:
- The BitGreen community: as part of the community’s focus on democratizing agency, members of the community are able to nominate and upvote impact initiatives to be funded by the foundation.
- Impact partners: As detailed below, a wide range of aligned organizations are encouraged to join the BitGreen ecosystem, nominating and funding rewards for impact actions relevant to their cause of choice
Criteria for Impact Actions
While the potential breadth of everyday impactful actions is tremendous, some actions bear more weight than others, and will be rewarded accordingly. All actions made available in the BitGreen ecosystem will have come from the above-mentioned nomination paths – from the BitGreen community itself or from its Impact partners. With input from the greater community, the BitGreen foundation and its impact partners will devise a framework for evaluating and assigning reward amounts to impact actions onboarded to the ecosystem. Contributing factors in the evaluation will include difficulty and time commitment of action, trackability, and either immediate or indirect impact. The Foundation reserves the right to reject impact action nominations that are found to be harmful or ineffective in any way deemed so by the overseeing body.
An example of such an impact action is BitGreen’s initiative with the [email protected] network; part of the community’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. For nearly 20 years, [email protected] has enabled anyone to connect and volunteer their computers as part of global decentralized network acting as a supercomputer in the service of research laboratories searching for cures to the world’s greatest maladies. By joining the BitGreen folding team and listing their wallets, users automatically earn BITG for their folding activities.
Originally nominated by a member of the community, this impact initiative launched in March of 2020 to great success, with the BitGreen team already ranked within the top 1% contributors to the program. Moreover, it serves as a blueprint for how future impact initiatives of this kind can be rolled out.
Businesses play a crucial role in both strengthening local communities and the biosphere. Like BITG, conscious capitalism offers a path to a healthier, more just economy. And so, vendors qualified for their positive footprint as local and/or sustainable are offered the opportunity to both accept and reward consumers in BITG. Vendors that join the ecosystem will play a role in its growth by not only accepting BITG as a means of payment, but also through spending BITG with other ecosystem partners, and participating in the BITG loyalty program, detailed below. In return, partners enjoy the added benefits of brand awareness and alignment with a powerful mission, as well as new customer acquisition.
Unlike standard loyalty programs where the points or credit offered by a business are only as valuable as the rewards it can muster, BitGreen offers its partners the ability to tie customer loyalty to a larger impact ecosystem — all on an accessible blockchain system that distributes tokens of real value for impactful actions taken. BITG offers a loyalty reward that is both liquid and accepted by many partners as a form of payment. And, no less important, customers can earn additional tokens for additional impactful actions.
As part of the BitGreen loyalty program, the vendors will be able to offer a ‘cash-back’ loyalty reward to customers; a ‘token of appreciation’ for supporting impactful businesses. Where relevant, the BitGreen foundation will assist in seeding the vendors’ loyalty program, with the expectation that BITG earned will then be used to replenish the vendor’s loyalty program – creating a loop that drives increasing use of BITG with all vendors and partners in the ecosystem.
Criteria for vendor partnership candidates
Though any business can accept BITG as a form of payment, the BitGreen Foundation actively encourages vendors that align with the community’s mission to join the BitGreen loyalty program and play a meaningful role in the growth of the ecosystem. Qualified vendor partners will have demonstrated meaningful commitment to their local communities, to social impact, and/or to the environment. Positive impact generated by the vendor should be manifest in the business practices and products created; corporate social responsibility alone does not suffice for accreditation as impactful. Third-party certification from recognized institutions will be considered but is not mandatory.
Case study: Trasto
Trasto, an artisanal home and design store in Panama, was founded on the mission of providing timeless products that can serve customers for generations, and financial sustainability for the families of local artisans who create them. An early adopter of innovation that furthers her cause, Trasto owner Carolina Arango joined the pilot program for the BitGreen ecosystem. Once accepting BITG was possible for Shopify users, Carolina onboarded the payment system, and is currently both accepting and rewarding customer loyalty with BITG.
The nonprofit sector fills the vacuum created when both markets and governments fail to meet the rights and needs of the public. Effective charities are essential for the common good, and should be supported with whatever resources are available. As part of the BitGreen ecosystem, qualified charities will be empowered to accept donations of BITG by community members. A predetermined portion of the donations will be sold to the foundation so as to be utilized to fund charity programming. The remainder will be used by the charity to fund incentivization of specific impact actions of relevance to its cause–further driving value and engagement in their cause.
As part of the foundation’s thesis of change, charity partners will appreciate and benefit the ‘impact multiplier effect’ created by designing and championing mechanisms that incentivize impact actions with BITG. A currency founded on impact is offered to incentivize further impact, only to be nudged through another series of incentives towards impactful paths of spending, further generating impact in a ‘flywheel’ effect.
Criteria for cause partners
All cause partners seeking to accept BITG through the BitGreen Ecosystem, must have legal stature as a nonprofit organization, with preference to 501c3 status or international equivalent. Organizations with a compelling explanation for not having status will be considered on a case by case basis. Causes chosen by the charities must fall within one or more of the following criteria:
- The challenge is massive, touching many lives
- The proposed solution is effective and ready to deploy
- The cause is negligible, and every BITG donated will make measurable difference
No less important, the cause partner organization must offer transparency as to how funds donated are put into use, both in terms of potential sale of BITG for programming needs, and causes within the ecosystem that the cause partner will choose to fund.
Case Study: Earth Day Initiative
As our pilot charity partner, the Earth Day Initiative will be able to accept BITG donations though the BitGreen app. Furthermore, the organization will utilize some of its BITG holdings to drive visits and dissemination of new resources on environmentalist activism created as part of its 50th anniversary celebration of International Earth Day. As with our other partners, the BitGreen foundation will step in to seed rewards for the impact actions, with the expectation that future donations will successfully replenish future reward needs.
From local grassroots groups to international organizations, communities catalyze shared experience and action through a common set of beliefs and interests. As a means of incentivization, BITG can be used by aligned communities to generate individual actions that result in collective impact. Particularly in times when there is a crunch in fiat, such as when there is an economic recession or a currency default, usage of an alternative currency becomes an effective way to drive commercial activity that keeps such communities alive–especially when the alternative gains mutually sought positive externalities.
As communities plug into the BitGreen ecosystem, they introduce new users to a world of opportunities to do good and spend good, driving greater volume and further value to the overall system. Each vendor, charity and community is another node that further stakes its faith in BitGreen, offering a new, compelling reason to believe in the viability of a currency that is both founded in, and generates further, global impact. As with the other partner categories, communities in the ecosystem will have a means of both earning and rewarding BITG, and while the BitGreen Foundation will seed rewards when relevant, ultimately the communities will reach a state where their earnings replenish the rewards fund.
Criteria for communities
Communities seeking to join the BitGreen ecosystem must have no foundation in hate, prejudice, or harm to others. They may be either virtual or geographically bound, inclusive or exclusive by nature, and may or may not exist with the main purpose of creating positive impact. Nonetheless, all communities joining the ecosystem do so for the purpose of creating positive social and/or environmental impact. A roadmap for doing so must be available for review prior to integration and use of the assets available to BitGreen ecosystem partners.
Impact is not only the realm of organizations who are 100% mission-focused. As the world of business progresses towards a more holistic understanding of purpose, brands seek out opportunities to make a positive mark. The BitGreen ecosystem offers an enticing avenue for achieving this positive impact, particularly given its ‘impact multiplier’ potential.
Partnering with the BitGreen Foundation, an organization will purchase BITG allocate it as rewards for a particular set of impact actions that are relevant to the cause of their choice. This mechanism can be deployed as part of a single campaign, or as an ongoing cause-focused engagement. Unlike the other partner categories, Impact Catalysts self-fund the rewards mechanism throughout their engagement. If the product sold by the Impact Catalyst falls within BitGreen’s impact criteria, purchases in BITG will be allowed, which enables means of replenishing the rewards pool without the Impact Catalyst having to purchase additional BITG from the BitGreen foundation.
As another path towards meaningful engagement, Impact Catalyst organizations are able to plug into the BitGreen loyalty program, offering their customers access to a white-label version of the BitGreen wallet and the ability to earn BITG for their purchases and impact actions. Having the wallet opens up new opportunities for earning additional BITG, as well as discovery of impactful ways to spend it.
Whether in an effort to promote a sustainable line of products, drive ongoing customer engagement along impactful lines, or simply as a more sophisticated form of Corporate Social Responsibility, in partnering with BitGreen, organizations can truly embody the term Impact Catalysts.
Criteria of Impact Catalysts
Impact Catalyst candidates whose business model is not wholly impact-focused must demonstrate a clear impact mission or goal to which the BitGreen ecosystem can connect with and help catalyze. Initiatives that are not meaningful, or serve as a distraction from otherwise harmful practices will be rejected. The ideal Impact Catalyst organization views its role in the ecosystem as long-term, and understands that participation is of asset in alignment between bottom line and social/environmental good.
Fostering a Stable Ecosystem
Our ecosystem is being designed to not only reward and drive sustainable impact, but to grow the value of currency. The goal is to have all parts of the ecosystem working together to increase the value of BITG by expanding the ecosystem, and increasing the velocity of BITG used within the ecosystem (ie. not traded on exchanges for other currencies.) The BitGreen Foundation is set up to support the ecosystem in achieving its goals, particularly around ensuring long term growth and stability of the ecosystem with as little volatility as possible.
All partners who accept BITG do so with the intent of furthering the BitGreen ecosystem, where the velocity of the currency comes from keeping the coins moving between partners in the system. Ultimately, the goal is to have an ecosystem that is comprehensive enough, that all partners who accept BITG have valid use for that BITG without converting it to another currency (ie. vendors who accept BITG will be able to spend BITG to vendors that sell their raw inputs.) At first this won’t be possible and partners will need to cover input costs in another currency, but all of our initial partners are agreeing to only convert a minority percentage of the BITG they accept into other currencies, in order to grow the ecosystem.
Until the ecosystem is robust enough to support organic onramps and offramps, these partners will not be utilizing traditional exchanges, but instead, the Foundation will be facilitating monthly over the counter (OTC) transactions with trusted 3rd parties, who can buy and sell large blocks of BITG for fiat without massive price volatility.
The onboarding of initial partners is being designed in such a fashion as to balance the supply and demand for BITG so that there will be slightly more demand. Our 3rd party OTC partners will use the excess fiat currency to create slowly increasing price floors on public exchanges.
As the ecosystem of partners and users grows in velocity, enabling robust capital markets in exchanges, the need for off-ramps will decrease.
In an effort to reach our goal of a more self-sustaining ecosystem, the Foundation will be seeding early vendor partners with BITG grants, so they can offer BITG as rewards to all of their customers. This will have the effect of not only bringing outlets for BITG into the ecosystem but will also bring new members to the community. We will also be providing grants for vendors to encourage their vendors to join the ecosystem, as this will strengthen the ecosystem towards our self sufficient goals.
- Concerned with Global Warming, Jen watches a short video on impactful actions on the Earth Day Initiative website and is prompted to claim her BITG reward.
- Jen downloads the BitGreen app, claims her reward, and discovers a whole ecosystem of opportunities to earn, and spend her BITG impactfully.
- Jen comes across iNaturalist, an app she can use to be a citizen scientist and help The Nature Conservancy. She downloads the app and begins earning BITG for her service.
- Earning on every action she takes within the app, Jen begins looking through sustainable vendors who accept BITG.
- Jen falls in love with a handcrafted wooden salad set by artisanal design shop Trasto, but realized she’s a bit short on the BITG needed to make the purchase at the special rate – so Jen purchases more BITG, and sends the sum to Trasto.
- Trasto confirms payment and rewards Jen with BITG for shopping local. Jen,decides to offset the delivery of the package from Panama, and sends BITG to a Carbon-offset provider — all within the BitGreen app.
- Jen earns more BITG as a reward for offsetting her purchase, and decides to sign up for more impactful action opportunities, earning more BITG for herself, and adding to the velocity of impactful transactions in the ecosystem.
Approaching the BitGreen ecosystem with a mobile-first focus
BitGreen aims to put its ecosystem at the fingertips of users globally. With a global shift in device adoption in favour of mobile – by its very nature a daily technology companion to many people – launching the BitGreen ecosystem as a Mobile Application has become the clear path forward.
The intention is to present users with an impact dashboard that represents their overall positive social impact as a result of their participation in BitGreen initiatives, and actively present users with opportunities to maximise their impact.
Participation doesn’t compromise privacy
All users are encouraged to get involved, although a requirement is that each user is associated with an identifier that enables their actions to be recognised and rewarded accordingly. However, the identifier is associated with the user’s wallet itself rather than the individual – as a result there are no personally identifiable details that are required nor requested from users in order to participate.
Introducing the BitGreen Network ID
The BitGreen Network ID is a seamless and important aspect of the ecosystem, enabling the relationship between a user and their participation, subsequent impact, eligibility for rewards, and further engagement through the ecosystem. It consists of two components: an identifier that is associated with the user’s wallet; and optionally a chosen username from the user themselves.
The identifier is the primary ID for a user on the BitGreen network, automatically and cryptographically determined against the root key of a user’s wallet. When a new installation or creation of a wallet on the mobile app occurs, the identifier becomes apparent. This approach ensures the reliability and seamlessness between the user and engagement with the BitGreen ecosystem.
Additionally, any user is able to optionally set a username against their identifier that is publicly visible and searchable by other users. This concept will be familiar to many users who are already active on various social media platforms and within online communities. Once a username is set, it becomes reserved by that user’s identifier up until the point the username is changed.
Connecting the BitGreen community
An important part of facilitating transactions between users is to help connect them to other users within the community they deem as friends, acquaintances or perhaps would simply like to perform ad-hoc transactions with. We’ve subsequently introduced an intuitive address book feature within the BitGreen mobile wallet that allows users to add any other user as a contact simply by searching their username.
The searchability leverages users’ BitGreen Network ID – specifically the username component – to assist users to find and connect with their contacts.
Open-Source BitGreen Database API
There are intentionally minimal technical barriers to the implementation of partner initiatives. We are aware that partners will employ various systems and technologies that support their organisations, so we have developed a versatile API that allows partners to communicate with BitGreen to identify when users have fulfilled a given action, to subsequently reward those users.
The BitGreen database API supports this effort with blockchain based monitoring techniques where relevant, to identify user participation with partner initiatives. It is a value-add and contributes to a streamlined onboarding process by eliminating the need for partners to invest time and development with integration beyond scoping of the initiative.
Increasing usability through compatibility
Through development of the BitGreen Protocol and its implementation across desktop and mobile platforms, a key focus is to increase blockchain-related usability for end users, many of which are not familiar with the intricacies of the technology.
One such evolution of the BitGreen protocol is the adaptation to BIP39 mnemonics – a 12 word human-friendly phrase that defines any single wallet. The simplicity behind the phrase presents a great usability enhancement for end users to both backup their wallets as well as restore them where required. The platform agnostic implementation therefore makes it seamless for users to carry across their wallets to additional devices, whether mobile or desktop based.
This document was drafted as the duel pandemics of Covid-19 and institutional racism reach new peaks around the globe. It has become all the more apparent that ambitious solutions are needed to help resolve firmly entrenched systemic challenges that have been holding us back from achieving the healthy, just and equitable world we all wish to achieve. This is the time to poke at the institutions that would have been out of bounds in the past, and to make some audacious attempts. Thoughts, prayers, and lowered interest rates clearly will no longer cut it.
It is in this spirit that the BitGreen Foundation has set out to design an ecosystem that will sustain a currency that is truly founded on impact. We believe that good will can serve as the ‘reserve’ for this currency; that impactful actions can become the unit of exchange; that opportunities for conscious commerce and effective giving can serve not only as a means for incentivizing impact, but also as active nodes in a system that drives up velocity of usage.
The BitGreen blockchain protocol is a framework that is held up and maintained by volunteer nodes. In a sense the BitGreen ecosystem is no different, reliant on the active usage for its existence. And so we call on all individuals, organizations and communities who can envision a world where money becomes a root of all good, to join us in bringing this vision to life. When BITG thrives at scale, it’ll be as a direct result of positive actions taken by you, and many like you.