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Tech insights: Programmable Banking Community: Transparent Rewards for Open-Source Contributors
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Programmable Banking Community: Transparent Rewards for Open-Source Contributors

By Nick Benson

While many developers are keen to get involved in open-source projects and pre-funded startups, it’s hard to get recognised for their efforts and divide rewards across multiple contributors. Adam Fisher, Hagashen Naidu, Jared Wesner and Peter Toulouras have used a Programmable Banking hackathon to work on a solution with their project “Trophies”. Here’s how it works.

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Each quarter, the Investec Programmable Banking community comes together to build MVPs for Open Banking in the real world. Each team has over a month to find and develop new ways to utilise Investec’s Open API and programmable cards to provide a better experience for users and customers.

One such winner is team “[Insert-name-here]” with their project Trophies which seeks to reward open-source and early startup contributors fairly and transparently. Here’s what it’s about:

How Trophies works

While he experiences Gitcoin as an amazing, “game-changing” solution, Adam was also a bit disappointed in the platform. “There’s something about the mechanism that doesn’t fit with the way that most of us contribute to open source,” he says. Bounties, for example, cannot be easily divided by multiple contributors. And people who have already contributed to big open-source projects can easily be forgotten.

“In terms of the grand sense of fairness, I would like to live in a world where every time I contribute and make something better, I also get a share in its success. I don’t need to be rich because of it. Just so that there’s an incentive there, that I am not just giving my code away. That I think could be a game-changer from a psychological point of view.”

Adam believes that the benefits of paying people fairly for their contribution to open source are two-fold:

  • It increases the value of the global code ecosystem by solving problems that need to be solved.
  • It leaves a trail that can be used in place of a resumé, allowing developers to be evaluated based on their work itself.

Huggs had been thinking of something along the same lines. “One evening, a half an hour conversation ended up being about an hour and a half,” he recounts. “We diced out the whole Trophies platform and how it could always be fair. The rest of it involved complicated maths at one stage … And by the end of it, we had a proposal document that we went, “Oh, this is cool. Let’s build it”.”

That’s how he and his peers came up with the idea for the hackathon: Trophies had to be a solution where each contributor can decide how and how much they want to be rewarded, and the maintainers of the open-source repositories decide whether they agree.

The platform also functions as a way to collect and showcase accolades and specific responsibilities across projects: “It enables you to see who’s been influential in the ideation of the project and who’s been responsible for what”, says Peter.

Here’s how developers would use Trophies to participate in a project:

  • Navigate to the Trophies Portal (Register or Login to the portal)
  • Create a new project (filling in relevant project details & getting assigned IDs)
  • Follow the steps in the README.md to setup a Gitlab push event integration
  • Next is to allocate funds to the project; do this using Investec Open Banking API
  • Once funds are allocated to the project, contributors will claim funds using the Trophies Portal.

“The biggest problem that we have is that people are not engaging with passion when they’re not being rewarded fairly. If we can make this work and get people on board, then maybe we can make a huge difference in how people engage with their work. I’m not a fan of participation trophies. But this is a participation trophy that means something.” (Adam)

Vision: Unlocking a talent pool for businesses

Since the hackathon, the platform has been functional, and the team is now looking to add payment functionalities and for users to test it further. Jared explains: “We basically want to use Trophies as the rails to prove the test case and iron out some of the kinks. But it would also be quite cool to start having the community back us in the concept that we came up with.”

Jared says Trophies could “potentially unlock a talent pool for businesses and other individuals and founders”. For Startups that have little cash and not yet much share value, Trophies could “provide a way to give shares directly based on contribution. The more trophies you earn, the more you have shown your value, and you’ve earned your share”. It could incentivise the development community to contribute to open-source projects during their spare time.

If you’re keen to use Trophies


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