Justin Kilpatrick |

Althea Development Update #59: Experiments in real world payments

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We’re approaching testnet readiness with bandwidth payments and we’ve started working on how to present the concept of device to device payments to people in the real world.

This is an exciting milestone that brings up some very important questions.

  • What kinds of incentives are really best at motivating people to sell bandwidth?
  • What kind of investment are people willing to make to do so?
  • What pain-points can we address in the design?

Designing an experiment in payments

Testnet bandwidth payments are on schedule to start next week, but I won’t be surprised if it’s the end of November before they are stable enough for real world testing to begin. With truly autonomous payments there’s a lot of edge cases with wallet and channel management that you have to answer correctly.

Ideally we want to work on figuring out how to present and design bandwidth payments from a human perspective in parallel to the technical completion.

So we came up with a quick and dirty idea that lets us perform a small scale experiment in our of our test networks.

The payment channel transactions aren’t quite ready but we do perform bandwidth accounting correctly. So instead of turning that into a transaction and sending it to the blockchain we send it to a server. From there we can pay users in our Clatskanie test network for bandwidth by hand.

It’s not exactly elegant and doesn’t really work well at all unless you have people on the ground. But it does allow people to be confident they will be paid for expanding the network and make money installing nodes.

Which is all we really need to observe what motivates people and iterate on how we present bandwidth payments and Althea to real people as a product to use. Not just a technical curiosity.

Some interesting lessons learned already, as we prepare to roll this out next week.

  • People are more motivated by saving $40/mo than making $40/mo. Hooking up a single neighbor for the money is a less powerful motivator than ‘being a good neighbor’ and helping them save money.
  • Somewhat hilariously nearly everyone wants to help out their neighbor but almost no one totally trusts their neighbor to help them out.
  • Money does become a clear motivator once you reach ‘side hustle’ status of at least a couple hundred dollars a month, so hooking up several homes.
  • Cheaper internet is much less of a motivator than bad internet when it comes to people being interested and willing to try Althea.

Technical Progress Update

Network DAO payments

  1. Deploy Aragon OS
  2. Deploy Aragon OS apps
  3. Deploy Network DAO factory < = we are here
  4. Network DAO factory can be called to deploy a new Aragon DAO with the Althea DAO app preinstalled.
  5. Create light client that works on routers and embedded devices.
  6. Create a bidirectional payment channel and deploy it.
  7. Integrate the light client and existing billing code.
  8. Integrate the #3 with the payment channel.
  9. Integrate billing code with existing accounting code. < = we are here
  10. Comprehensively test this entire stack.

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