The Hard Path
OpinionScaling Bitcoin

6 mins

25 days ago

Francis Pouliot
Francis Pouliot

CEO

The Hard Path

Doing Bitcoin the right way is hard. 

If Bull Bitcoin wanted to take the easy path, we would have done what all the other exchanges are doing and would simply have offered a custodial wallet to our users. But our mission is not to sell numbers on a screen, fake paper bitcoin and IOUs. Our mission is to create sovereign individuals. If our clients don’t take full control over their wealth, we have failed them.

If we wanted to take the easy path, we would have offered shitcoin trading, NFTs, ICOs, yield and all sorts of nonsense. No doubt, we would today be far more wealthy. 

But we would have failed in our mission to establish a universal Bitcoin standard and fixed the problems created by easy money. We would have compromised on our values and sold products that we don’t believe in and we don’t personally use.

If we wanted to take the easy path, we wouldn't have spent years building open-source software that lets any business run their own self-hosted Bitcoin wallet API infrastructure connected directly to their own Bitcoin, Lightning and Liquid network nodes. We would have just done a deal with Coinbase or another third party to take care of the Bitcoin engineering on our behalf. 

But we would have failed in our mission to help keep the Bitcoin network decentralized and resilient to institutional failures. We would have lost our direct and precious connection to the Bitcoin network. 

The engineering, operational and logistical challenges involved in maintaining a noncustodial Bitcoin service like Bull Bitcoin, in an environment where Bitcoin network fees are increasingly high, while also maintaining an accessible user experience with minimal compromises on the cypherpunk principles of Bitcoin… are impossibly hard to fathom for the vast majority of Bitcoiners.

Despite consistently taking the most difficult path at every turn, Bull Bitcoin has nonetheless been crushing it for the past 10 years thanks to our Bitcoiner ethos and mindset, sticking to our core values and creating products with a singular focus: engineering sovereignty. 

All of this we accomplished without any outside funding. Every sat invested in Bull Bitcoin was acquired by offering a service valued by our customers. Every network fee we pay, every investment in R&D comes straight out of our pockets. If our bitcoin-only noncustodial model fails and we become unprofitable, there will be no bailout.

As a low-time preference business, taking the hard path today means we will have a unique competitive advantage in the future. Nobody uses Bitcoin more than a non-custodial exchange. Every trade and every revenue generating activity is derived directly from a Bitcoin payment. We are keenly aware of every possible problem that Bitcoin users may be facing, because we are ourselves are a power user. We know what kinds of problems the users will face, what solutions we need to build and how we must adapt. We always skate where the puck is going. 

But there is another, more noble purpose to choosing the hard path.

I'm also heavily involved in a community circular economy project in Costa Rica called Bitcoin Jungle. We spend countless hours to educate locals, set merchants up with Bitcoin point of sales, and build the infrastructure necessary for Bitcoin to thrive as a medium of exchange in even the most rural areas. All of this we do for free, and in fact it we pay for it out of pocket! I discovered recently that a few people were skeptical of our efforts. I met one of them and he asked us “but why are you doing this, if you don't make any money from it”. 

We do it because we love Bitcoin. We believe in the ideology of Bitcoin, its underlying cypherpunk and free market principles. We do it because we as sovereign individuals cannot live in isolation and we all benefit from the success of our communities. We do it because we want our kids to grow up in a world that is free from the evils of Fiat currency. May our children never suffer the corruption of participating in a socialist economic system that steals their time and their wealth by the simple fact of interacting with fiat currency.  We do it because doing it is a moral imperative. In a world of systematic injustice, doing nothing is to be complicit. You cannot live a virtuous life with the knowledge that you had the capacity to act heroically but chose to capitulate. 

Bitcoin is at the center of a spiritual war between forces of corruption and forces of liberation. There is a higher power that calls us to become the resistance. Bitcoin is hope. Bitcoin is salvation. If Bitcoin fails, everyone on earth is truly and utterly fucked. 

We are on the cusp of a fundamental civilizational change. The global debt-fueled fiat ponzi is imploding right before our eyes. What comes next is up to us to determine. We are the right place and the right time. We have a unique window of opportunity that may not come again within our lifetimes and that of our children.

The choices we make today will shape what the world looks hundreds of years from now. Whether our descendants live in totalitarian dystopias or will be ushering in a new era of prosperity and freedom depends on our willingness to choose the hard path today.

And if you think the hard part is over and that Bitcoin has already won, think again. During our decade of operational experience, there were few serious attacks on the Bitcoin network. Bitcoin had relatively low levels of adoption and apart from a few periods of intense fee spikes and the fork wars of 2017, it was smooth sailing. Bitcoin was mostly flying under the radar, left to develop organically in the hands of its cypherpunk caretakers.

This era of complacency is over. From now on, everything is about to get much, much harder. This is what we live for! Nothing easy is worth pursuing. 

Bull Bitcoin hasn't given up on Bitcoin's mission to free humanity from the shackles of fiat slavery and centralized systems, we are reinvigorated by the challenges that Bitcoin is facing and that will continue to intensify.  

We will not give up on Bitcoin's use case as a medium of exchange and we will continue to build tools that make it easy for anyone to opt out of the traditional banking system to conduct peer-to-peer transactions securely, as was originally intended by Satoshi when launched the Bitcoin project. 


This new epoch, Bull Bitcoin is leveling up to an entire new standard for consumer-facing Bitcoin apps, higher than anyone has ever seen. We have been thinking about how to make our unique noncustodial model work sustainably long-term for years. This is the hill that we choose to die on.


But as we entered into a new Bitcoin epoch, I've witnessed many in the Bitcoin community become cynical, fatalistic and even depressed. It’s hard to blame them.

Privacy-preserving tools are being shut down. The Lightning Network is suffering scalability issues. The Bitcoin blockchain is being spammed by degenerate NFT gamblers, driving up transaction fees for everyone else. Bankers and Wall Street insiders are accumulating Bitcoin fortunes and promoting exchange traded funds as an alternative to self-custody. Bitcoin mining is being heavily centralized among a small group of American-based public companies. It sometimes feels like Bitcoin is under attack by various nefarious interests that want to control it and corrupt it. 

Even from within our own community we are suffering from prophets of doom spewing fear, uncertainty and doubt. Many sneer that Lightning is broken, that Bitcoin has been co-opted by Wall Street. Some say we should give up and switch to altcoins. Some pundits blame “lasereyed maxis” for blocking protocol changes and claim that being conservative about modifying the rules of Bitcoin means “ossification” and that's the reason why Bitcoin has high fees. Others are pushing the idea that Bitcoin was never meant for payments anyway and that being a store of value was always the main goal of Bitcoin. Who cares about the poor? The plebs can always keep their funds on an exchange. 

At Bull Bitcoin, we see it very differently. We have a realistic and optimistic approach towards building a bright future for Bitcoin. I have never been so bullish on the future Bitcoin as I am today.

Make no mistake: the core principles of Bitcoin self-custody, censorship-resistance and privacy are under attack. But the Bitcoin community possesses a unique advantage that will ultimately allow us to prevail: not only do we have skin in the game, we have soul in the game.

Our tribe of a few thousand cypherpunk Bitcoin maximalist fanatics stand against an empire of fiat clones, millions of faceless cogs in a soulless machine. I like our odds. 

While I agree that we should never take Bitcoin’s success for granted, the bleak picture that some want to paint regarding the state of Bitcoin is detached from reality.

We've already achieved incredible technological miracles. The fact that it is possible for a user to run a Lightning network node on a mobile device and make fully trustless payments is a monumental achievement. Despite what they claim I can guarantee that no other shitcoin or fiat payment system has anywhere near the level of sophistication of Bitcoin. It is an incredibly bullish sign for the Bitcoin ecosystem that we have achieved a level where users can remain fully sovereign if they have the means.

Scaling Bitcoin so that it can enable hundreds of millions of people to become sovereign individuals is the most pressing challenge of our times. Our community must accept inevitable realities: not everybody will be able to afford on-chain transactions. The success of Bitcoin means that one day, during our lifetimes, a single Bitcoin translation will cost hundreds of dollars.

Upgrading the Bitcoin protocol may allow us to create tools that enable a more secure, censorship-resistant and private payment mechanism, but no soft fork can fix the fundamental tradeoffs of the Bitcoin protocol. 

But this doesn't mean that we should either give up on Bitcoin’s value proposition as a medium of exchange, or that we must fork bitcoin according to the whims of whoever is trending on Twitter, nor should we capitulate to traditional exchanges acting as banks for the vast majority of users.

To fix the inconvenient and expensive user experience that most people are suffering in times of high fees while making the minimum amount of compromises, you need vision and execution. 

There is an army of shadowy super coders that, like us, have dedicated their lives to ensure that Bitcoin becomes the universal medium of exchange, store of value and medium of account. We come from different walks of life and we have different strategies. Some of us work on self-sovereign consumer applications. Other focus of privacy protocols, mining decentralization, second later payment networks, e-cash protocols, and finally, as a last resort, some are working to add changes to the Bitcoin protocol which can enable tools that we currently cannot build. 

At Bull Bitcoin, our vision of the future Bitcoin experience is crystal clear. It is a vision of success and integrity, where the path of least resistance for the user is also the path of least compromise.

We, the Bitcoin builders, will make it real.

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