What is Programmable Money?

What is Programmable Money?

What does it mean when people say Bitcoin is "Programmable" money? Why would money need to be programmed, and what's wrong with non-programmable money? In this video, shot in the Allapattah neighborhood of Miami, I answer this question, and discuss all things Counterparty.


What's up, party people? Chris DeRose here, Community Director of the Counterparty Foundation. In today's video I want to answer the question, what is programmable money? So you use a lot in the Bitcoin in space, and certainly it's a major part of what we are doing at the Counterparty Project. And it's a major part of Bitcoin, this notion of programmable money. It used to be that money was very simple. It was just a piece of paper usually, or maybe it was seashells, or maybe it was cigarettes. Or maybe it was a gold coin and you would give it to a person and that person would have custody of it and that meant that it was theirs, and that's that.

Well, here we are in the digital age, and here we are in the age of crypto currency and now we have this notion of programmable money. What makes programmable money very special is that it's not just a matter of simple transmission. It's not just a matter of handing it to a person and now it's theirs. You can hand it to them with terms and conditions. You can say to them that this money is spendable under these terms, or you can say, perhaps, that this money exists and it either goes to this person or this person, depending on an event. These are the types of things that we can do with programmable money.

It's quite literally code that is attached to the money. It is code that is executed at the time in which money is relinquished from yourself, from your own custody, and that programming code instructs what happens thereafter. The code is very transparent to all the people involved. The code is viewable on the public ledger. And so, depending on what you decided to do, that will be part of the equation in your interaction with others. In the case of Bitcoin, the language is very, very small.

The language is based on fourth, it is not touring complete, and it typically is just multi-signature contracts and simple spends. There is a handful more that are being added, but they are very, very focused on what they can do. Now, within the Counterparty space, that's a completely different equation. In the Counterparty space we have a touring complete language called Serpent. It's one of the big features we offer over Bitcoin, is that our programming language is very extensive. It may be that the degree of programmability that you require is greater or smaller than what we provide in Counterparty, and for reasons like these and others you may just want to just use Vanilla Bitcoin, or you might want to use the Counterparty Bitcoin, the XBTC, say, for some of your contracts or some of your programmable money options.

We really are just starting to scratch the surface of what programmable money can do. Various escrow services will be automated with programmable money. Some features that attorneys are providing will be done by the currency itself, certainly bedding, and all these options are possible. Really, the whole thing has just started to take form, so it's a very exciting time for this programmable money space, and it's a really new question that people can even be asking. What is it to have programmable money? That's it, that's the general term about what programmable money is. And maybe that kind of scratched your interests there a little bit, and you want to learn more.

If so, look through my channel. If you like what you see, subscribe, and if you need a question answered that I didn't answer already, go ahead and ask it. You can tweet me on Twitter, DeRoseTech is my handle, or you can email me Later, party people.