MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative Raises $4M for Effort to ‘Harden’ Bitcoin

Prominent backers include CoinShares’ Meltem Demirors, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and MicroStrategy’s Michael Saylor.

AccessTimeIconFeb 28, 2021 at 4:19 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 12:18 p.m. UTC
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The MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative (DCI) is spinning up a multiyear effort dedicated to Bitcoin research and development. The program raised $4 million from prominent backers, including CoinShares’ Meltem Demirors, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and MicroStrategy’s Michael Saylor, among others, as well as corporate entities, including Fidelity Digital Assets. It has made the long-term health of the Bitcoin protocol its key area of focus.

Over the next four years, the Bitcoin Software and Security Effort will dedicate resources to Bitcoin Core development, the underlying codebase of the near-trillion-dollar network. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will also investigate long-standing questions regarding Bitcoin’s core attributes, such as the stability of the network after the 21 million BTC mining subsidy runs out. 

In its 12-year existence, Bitcoin has proved remarkably robust. The decentralized network has gone down just twice in its history – most recently in 2013. A core group of maintainers patch bugs, ship updates and generally oversee the protocol. Their work is primarily funded on the patronage model, with corporations supporting the work of developers, or is a labor of love. 

Part of the Media Lab’s mandate is to help provide stewardship for this unofficial development process, thereby helping to “reduce bottlenecks in the development ecosystem which might lead to centralization.” 

“As the use of Bitcoin grows, and as it becomes more deeply embedded into our societies, the security of the network must grow and strengthen alongside it. Yet, as a common good, there is no one single Bitcoin protector or guardian to take on this formidable task,” the group wrote in a statement. 

The DCI has supported Bitcoin development since at least 2015.

The Media Lab fell short of its $8 million funding goal, though the effort has received praise from the Bitcoin community. 


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