Brian ‘Buck’ Stafford of Decred On The Future of Money and Banking

An Interview With Jason Hartman

Jason Hartman
Authority Magazine
Published in
12 min readSep 9, 2022


It’s also important for me to leave a positive mark. One that lasts. That shouldn’t be easy. It requires pushing boundaries, going deeper, studying a lot, while also sticking to your principles.

The way we bank has changed dramatically over the last decade. It was not too long ago when you had to wait in line in a bank to deposit money. Today things are totally different. You can do your banking without ever walking into a bank. In addition, the whole concept of money has changed. In the recent past, money usually meant bills and coins. But today, the concept of money has expanded to include digital currency and NFTs. What other innovations should we expect to see in banking in the short and medium term?

To address this, we are talking to leaders in the banking, finance, and fintech worlds, to discuss the future of banking and money over the next few years. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian ‘Buck’ Stafford, Blockchain Developer at

Buck is a blockchain enthusiast and a lead developer for Decred. As an outspoken advocate of open-source software and decentralization, Buck has contributed to many blockchain projects, including Decred, Bitcoin, Zcash, and Bitcoin Cash. Most recently, he has been working on the Decred DEX project, a decentralized, self-custodial asset exchange protocol.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started in this industry?**

Before I worked in blockchain, I wore many hats. I worked in restaurants for maybe 10 years, but at various points I was also a fork-lift operator, a medical clerk, a machinist, a vacuum salesman, a stock boy, and a bartender. I went back to school in my mid-twenties, eventually getting a master’s in physics. I was doing materials research for solar applications and pursuing a doctorate in 2017 when I first looked into blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum.

My first foray into blockchain was mining, but I eventually started writing some small blockchain applications, mostly just for data analysis and to run my mining rigs. It forced me to look deeper though, and I guess I just kept going.

I’ve now contributed to quite a few blockchain projects, including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Zcash, and Litecoin. My day-to-day job, though, is as a lead developer for Decred, a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). There are some oddities to working for a DAO. I technically have no bosses, no set hours, and though I doxed myself long ago, I don’t really have a name. Just a handle. Many develop pseudonymously.

My day-to-day work activities are not dissimilar to more traditional environments. Even in a DAO, there is an emergent hierarchy and administrative roles. We form teams to develop ideas and create products. The difference is that we get all work and pay approved directly by the Decred stakeholders, who are anonymous stakers of Decred’s cryptocurrency (DCR).

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I don’t want to be too specific, but one of the first times I wrote an article about blockchain for wider consumption, it got a moderate amount of attention, and I even interacted with some blockchain-famous people because of it. At the time, I was just deciding to make blockchain my career, so it was a big rush to see people taking it seriously and even reacting positively.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Take a breath.

Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell our readers about the most interesting projects you are working on now?**

I work on a number of projects at Decred. Initially, I spent a lot of time helping with our block explorer, which is a website that helps you traverse blockchain data in your browser. I do a lot of wallet software too, but I spend most of my time working on Decred DEX (DCRDEX), a decentralized exchange.

A decentralized exchange is a system by which you can trade one digital asset for another without giving up custody. The process of the exchange is designed to ensure that if one party receives the funds, so does the other. We call this process “trustless”, because we don’t have to trust each other or any third party to facilitate the trade. Such a system is made possible by a blockchain.

How do you think this might change the world?

Unless you keep a laptop with you at all times, using blockchain directly has always been infeasible. The user experience is also something akin to getting your teeth pulled. Centralized services have traditionally stepped in to fill the user experience gap. They hold the lion’s share of digital capital because they make digital assets easy to obtain, hold, and exchange, and they make it all web-accessible. The deal they offer, though, is truly all-or-nothing. “Let us hold all of your coin and personal data, and you can be a row in our database that can be instantly updated.” We see the pitfalls of centralization all the time, though. When we centralize with trusted parties, we create honeypots that attract theft and corruption. This, in turn, necessitates regulation, which creates restricted markets and requires invasive levels of private data collection (and inevitably leaks).

It doesn’t have to be this way. A small subset of problems solved by centralized exchanges are inherent to blockchain, but even for these sticky problems, the solutions offered are overly-parasitic. We now have the technology to deliver a similar user experience without the sacrifice, so that people can reclaim their autonomy, shake off the rent-seekers and gatekeepers, and create a fairer, freer economy.

In the wider sense, we’re not there yet. Decentralized blockchains solve countless problems, but the products being sold as blockchain products are far from decentralized. Most decentralized exchanges are implemented as smart contracts. This means that you can only trade the assets and tokens associated with a single blockchain. This is a huge contrast to exchanges like Binance or Coinbase, where you can trade, say, Bitcoin for Ethereum or Dogecoin or virtually any other asset.

Developing truly decentralized products is harder. It takes more time and more expertise, which is already in short supply.

So for Decred’s DEX, we used a different approach, employing a well-known but little-used technology called “atomic swaps” that enables virtually any two assets to be exchanged. Atomic swaps are harder to implement in development, but they open the door to endless trading combinations. It’s a critical ingredient in a viable alternative to centralized exchanges.

We’ve also spent a lot of time focusing on integrating true peer-to-peer (P2P) wallets that don’t use online service providers. I mention this, because we recently learned about the Tornado Cash sanctions, and we witnessed first-hand the power of these service providers to censor our economic activity. Some of the most popular wallets (MetaMask, Trust Wallet) use these centralized providers, and some of them restricted access to a popular service and blacklisted a number of wallets. I’m sure they were under intense legal pressure to do so, and I don’t blame the operators, but it raises serious concerns around privacy and freedom of speech.

P2P wallets don’t use service providers, but using a P2P wallet has always been infeasible. It involved hours or days of synchronization, hundreds of gigabytes of disk space, and tons of network bandwidth. Now we have better technologies that enable highly-secure P2P wallets with disk space and bandwidth reduced by a factor of 1000. Sync times are minutes instead of hours. We’re working hard to integrate these new technologies, so that DEX users remain fully empowered by decentralization and self-custody.

What most excites you about the banking or payments industry as it is today? Can you explain what you mean?

The utter disruption. New players are moving in and old ones are scrambling to adapt. Young people who’ve had success in this emerging digital economy are starting to get a voice. Nothing is static and only through iteration does anything improve, so I’m excited to witness this massive iteration in economics.

In terms of concrete applications, I’m excited by the Lightning Network. It gets a bum rap, but even big players like Cash App and Kraken have embraced it. It’s solid tech, but it’s young and misunderstood. I also think Lightning is a lot more than a network for payments. There are uses for Lightning Network for applications around content delivery, social networking, and more. I’m long on Lightning and similar layer 2 solutions like Ethereum’s ZK rollups.

What most concerns you about the banking or payments industry as it is today? What would you suggest needs to be done to address that?

The big players in both traditional and digital services have accumulated unreasonable levels of power and influence, and some will try to stop us from empowering ourselves with these technologies. I say that as if it’s not already happening, but it is. China has outlawed Bitcoin. India’s on the fence. The EU is talking about forcing source-of-funds data collection on all “unhosted wallets”, another way to say personal holdings. That’s analogous to saying that every time you spend money, you need to fill out paperwork to say where you got it.

That’s not a world I want to live in. We need to normalize decentralization and self-custody now, so that people will put up a fight when these rights are truly threatened.

How would you articulate how the concept of money has changed in recent times? Is it really a change? How is it still the same? Can you explain what you mean?**

The fiat system was just implemented in 1971, less than 38 years before Bitcoin’s genesis block. We’re not fiddling with some tried-and-true, millennia-old technology. Relative to the timelines over which these changes occur, both fiat and cryptocurrency are in their infancy.

If we don’t trust those tasked with the money printer and our collective economic fortunes, then money loses its value. And indeed, the story of my generation is one of repeated bailouts, in which our money is devalued to keep a privileged few in the black and unincarcerated.

So, if the fallibility of man is a detriment to our monetary system, let’s remove the human element. If centralization unduly entrenches power and wealth, let’s decentralize. That’s why I’ve never understood those who think that blockchain is politically partisan, as if anarchists are the only ones who benefit. The problems solved by blockchain are myriad, directly or indirectly affecting nearly every aspect of our lives.

So, to answer the question, yes, our concept of money is undergoing a huge change, and will be for some time. Most people are just dipping their toes in the decentralized economy, but the sooner we empower each other with this technology, the better.

Based on your vantage point as an insider in the finance industry, what innovations should we expect to see in banking in the short and medium term?

Within years, we’ll see universal acceptance of digital assets in retail, mostly via merchant services at first, with crypto-backed credit cards filling the gap.

In the medium term, we’ll see more “layer 2” blockchain solutions come into maturity. Bitcoin has the Lightning Network and Ethereum is heading towards something called ZK rollups. Most activity will occur on these networks, which are incredibly fast and cheap to use.

In your particular experience, how has the pandemic changed the way you interact with, and engage your customers?

Other than making my Twitter feed more intolerable, the pandemic has had little effect on how I engage professionally. It’s one of the benefits of a decentralized workplace.

I’m very interested in the importance of user experience. How much of your interactions have moved to digital such as chatbots, encrypted messaging apps, phone, or video calls? How has this shift impacted the user and customer experience? What challenges do these apps present when used as a customer engagement tool?

Since I’ve gotten into professional development, very little has changed for me. I use Element (which was called Matrix) for chat and customer service, GitHub for development, and a custom stakeholder platform called Politeia to coordinate off-chain governance activities.

It can be a little impersonal to always communicate via text, but on the whole, it provides a nice balance. We’ve got a couple of contractors who run triage for customer service, and they end up handling most problems on the spot.

If you could design the perfect communication feature or system to help your business, what would it be?

Ad-free, private, encrypted, and decentralized.

Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Modern Finance, Banking and Fintech industries? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Isn’t success sort of self-defined? For myself, health is a priority, so it was important that I built a career that let me focus on my health. I can take off as much time as I want, for instance. Everybody has to find their own balance, but almost invariably, prioritizing your health **is** prioritizing your career.

It’s also important for me to leave a positive mark. One that lasts. That shouldn’t be easy. It requires pushing boundaries, going deeper, studying a lot, while also sticking to your principles.

Identify a problem and keep pressure on it. Be patient with others. Don’t be selfish.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Will somebody PLEASE fix the academic publication system? It hinders technological and economic advancement. With few exceptions, the results of publicly funded research should not cost citizens money to access. We already paid for it.

Censorship and privatization stifle competition and innovation. So many today are acutely aware of these issues, and there has been substantial progress in both official and unofficial channels to get existing research made available, but little is being done to address the root of the problem.

The funny thing is, if you were to create an academic publication system from scratch today, it would look nothing like what we have. We’re due for modernization. I’d like to inspire a movement to free past and future publicly funded research from the outdated publication system.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Follow me on Twitter @blockchainbuck. For more information about Decred visit or follow Decred on Twitter at @DecredProject.

About The Interviewer: Jason Hartman is the Founder and CEO of Empowered Investor. Jason has been involved in several thousand real estate transactions and has owned income properties in 11 states and 17 cities. Empowered Investor helps people achieve The American Dream of financial freedom by purchasing income property in prudent markets nationwide. Jason’s Complete Solution for Real Estate Investors™ is a comprehensive system providing real estate investors with education, research, resources and technology to deal with all areas of their income property investment needs. Through Jason’s podcasts, educational events, referrals, mentoring and software to track your investments, investors can easily locate, finance and purchase properties in these exceptional markets with confidence and peace of mind.

Starting with very little, Jason, while still in college at the age of 19, embarked on a career in real estate. While brokering properties for clients, he was investing in his own portfolio along the way. Through creativity, persistence and hard work, he earned a number of prestigious industry awards and became a young multi-millionaire. Jason purchased a California real estate brokerage firm that was later acquired by Coldwell Banker. He combined his dedication and business talents to become a successful entrepreneur, public speaker, author, and media personality. Over the years he developed his Complete Solution for Real Estate Investors™ where his innovative firm educates and assists investors in acquiring prudent investments nationwide for their portfolio. Jason’s sought after educational events, speaking engagements, and his popular “Creating Wealth Podcast” inspire and empower hundreds of thousands of people in 189 countries worldwide.

While running his successful real estate and media businesses, Jason also believes that giving back to the community plays an important role in building strong personal relationships. He established The Jason Hartman Foundation in 2005 to provide financial literacy education to young adults providing the all-important real world skills not taught in school which are the key to the financial stability and success of future generations. We’re in a global monetary crisis caused by decades of misguided policies and the cycle of financial dependence has to be broken, literacy and self-reliance are a good start. Visit for free materials and resources.



Jason Hartman
Authority Magazine

Author | Speaker | Financial Guru | Podcast Rockstar