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Square is building a new open-source platform for bitcoin, and it's calling it 'TBD'

Jack Dorsey rather mysteriously announced his latest bitcoin endeavor, which focuses on open source and decentralization.
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Written by Daphne Leprince-Ringuet on
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TBD is a platform for developers to create open-source financial applications with a focus on bitcoin.

Image: Joe Raedle / Staff / Getty Images News

Square is launching yet another bitcoin-focused project with open-source development and decentralization at its core, the company's founder Jack Dorsey, has revealed.  

In a series of Tweets disclosing very little information about the new project, Dorsey shared that the new business will join Seller, Cash App and Tidal as one of the sub-units of Square, and will be somewhat mysteriously named "TBD". 

Exactly what the company's founder, who also doubles as the CEO of Twitter, has in mind remains equally as unclear, but Dorsey described TBD as a platform for developers to create open-source financial applications that are decentralized, permissionless and non-custodial, with a focus on bitcoin. 

SEE: 10 ways to prevent developer burnout (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Square is a financial services and digital payments company that largely targets small businesses with services ranging from point-of-sale systems for credit card payments to loans, through online payroll services. 

The company already funds a platform, Square Crypto, which is dedicated to building free and open-source projects around bitcoin. Square Crypto is currently working on projects like building the Lightning Development Kit (LDK), a collection of APIs, language bindings and demo apps that help developers create custom wallet services and applications. 

Although TBD might sound similar in nature, Dorsey clarified that the two projects will run separately. "Square doesn't give direction to (Square Crypto), only funding," said Dorsey. "They chose to work on LDK, and are doing an incredible job! TBD will be focused on creating a platform business, and will open source our work along the way." 

This has led some users to speculate that the new project might be competing against platforms like Ethereum, a community-run project that counts thousands of decentralized applications based on the organization's own cryptocurrency, Ether.  

The leader of strategic development at Square, Mike Brock, will be heading the TBD team. "I just want to say that I am super excited to return to the world of open source," Brock tweeted. "I cut my professional teeth in open source at Red Hat and excited to prove to the world (again) that great businesses can be built atop of free and open software.

"I also believe that technology has always been a story of decentralization. From the printing press, to the internet to bitcoin – technology has the power to distribute power to the masses and unleash human potential for good, and I'm convinced this is the next step," he added. 

Dorsey and Brock both re-iterated that the new business unit will be open, with the roadmap and development available for the public to view. 

SEE: What is a software developer? Everything you need to know about the programmer role and how it is changing

TBD is only the latest of many projects launched by the Twitter founder in bitcoin, and Dorsey has made no secret of his interest in cryptocurrencies. 

Square users have for several years been able to buy and sell bitcoin through Cash App, a mobile payment service developed by the company to allow users to transfer money to one another using an app.  

The service has been very popular with users: of the $4.04 billion that Cash App delivered in revenue in the first quarter of 2021, Square said that $3.51 billion was generated from bitcoin services.  

The company has also invested $170 million in bitcoin this year, which turned into a fair value investment of $472 million. And earlier this month, Square announced that it is working on a hardware wallet for bitcoin, which enables users to store their funds offline.  

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