BTC Map Weekly Recap
May 5, 2024  |  BTC Map  ·  Projects

Previous post

New Feature: Data Bundling

It’s hard not think about building resilient software in the light of the recent events, that’s why we decided to include the most recent data snapshots with every new BTC Map release. In short, if our servers go down, for whatever reason, you won’t be affected. It’s also impossible to censor us via Google Play, since the app is available on F-Droid, GitHub, and it can also be built from the source.

Data bundling also speeds up the initial sync by an order of magnitude!

New Feature: Companion App Warnings

You only need a Lightning wallet in order to pay to the vast majority of our merchants, but there are two exceptions:

  • Czech Republic (Querko restaurants)
  • South Africa (Pick n Pay supermarkets)

Some of the places do require a third party companion app in order to generate BOLT 11 invoices, so you need to install those apps if you want to pay with bitcoins. Usually, we don’t tolerate that, but perfect is the enemy of good, and we decided to accept them on the following conditions:

  • The app should generate a real Lightning invoice, payable with any LN wallet of user’s choice
  • KYC is not acceptable under any circumstances

Those places didn’t have proper warnings, so I fixed it in the latest release:

New Feature: Navigate to Merchant

Building routes is hard, that’s why we aren’t doing it. You need to know a lot of things, including traffic jams, accidents, planned roadworks and so on. I know it well because I used to work for a taxi company which operated in London. Still, many users want to be able to quickly navigate to a selected merchant, so I decided to delegate this task to an external app. Most of the solutions on StackOverflow were dependent on Google Maps, but there was an interesting solution which seems universal. It appears to be working, but we’ll need more testing and user feedback to confirm that.

New Feature: Sharing Merchants

I don’t know why I waited so long, but it seems to be a must-have feature. As a power user, you don’t really miss it, since you can always open a place on OSM and see the nifty-gritty details, but it’s not a good way of sharing a bitcoin-accepting place with your friends.

Key Metrics

The number of verified merchants has increased by 41, half of the last week’s number. Most locations were verified by Rockedf and the local mappers.

Here are the top 5 countries by the number of new merchants:

  • Brazil
  • Spain
  • Germany
  • Czech Republic
  • The Netherlands

The total number of merchants has increased by 8, which is unusually small. The main reason is Boracay data cleanup which was done by a Pouch team. They had many outdated merchants so their removal boosted our signal-to-noise ratio in that region.

The average number of days since the last verification didn’t change, which means that our data is as reliable as it was a week ago. I expected a decline since I didn’t do any mapping, but it looks like the locals are finally starting to maintain their own data, which reduces our dependency on remote edits done by a few of our team members.

What’s Next: Syncing in Adverse Conditions

Next week, I want to focus on our server software and infrastructure. The main goal is to release a v3 API, which is supposed to improve sync speed and lower the bandwidth requirements. Users like snappy software, but the real driving factor is the ability to make our API usable via TOR and other privacy preserving overlay networks. Even a normal VPN can slow down your network connection to the point where every byte counts, so it makes sense to make our API as lightweight as possible.