Square Crypto Bankrolls Star Lightning Developer Known as 'ZmnSCPxj'

Keeping in the cypherpunk spirit, Square Crypto has issued a grant to pseudonymous developer ZmnSCPxj for Lightning and bitcoin research.

AccessTimeIconDec 11, 2019 at 7:15 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 11:48 a.m. UTC

Square Crypto, the payment startup’s bitcoin development group, has funded a pseudonymous researcher to let him work on the space full-time.

Announced Wednesday via Square Crypto’s Twitter account, freelance Lightning and bitcoin contributor ZmnSCPxj received a grant from the company to further development of the bitcoin network. The grant’s total was not disclosed.

The pseudonymous developer is known for his work throughout the Lightning developer community, working on both the Lightning Labs and c-Lightning implementations over the past two years, another tweet said.

With the grant, Square Crypto said the developer is able to “leave behind his day job of 14 years” to work full time on Lightning and bitcoin.

Lightning Labs infrastructure lead Alex Bosworth said in an email the funding looked like a one-time grant and is not part of the Square Crypto developer team’s general mandate.

“I think the focus is broadly on bitcoin and they are still figuring out a good intersection of helping bitcoin and pursuing their development interests. They have a great team and a lot of freedom to pursue different directions,” Bosworth said.

Despite claims that ZmnSCPxj is an anonymous individual, Lightning developers likely know his identity. The individual attended October’s Lightning Conference in Berlin, giving a presentation during the conference's second day. The developer also appears to have spoken to others, such as c-Lightning’s Rusty Russel, under Chatham House rules.

ZmnSCPxj has seemingly accepted cost-of-living donations on website through his bitcoin wallet address since 2018, when his domain was copyrighted. His work on bitcoin sidechains, off-chain transactions such as Lightning and bitcoin projects such as CoinJoins can be found on the domain. 

ZmnSCPxj and Square Crypto did not return questions for comment by press time.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.