BitShares is designed to be self funding and self-sustaining by giving the stakeholders the power to direct where blockchain reserves are spent. BitShares has a reserve pool of 1.2 billion BTS (about $8 million dollars) that automatically grows as transaction fees are collected and the share price rises. Each day, the blockchain is authorized to spend up to 432,000 BTS (about $77,000 per month), which is enough to hire a small team to maintain the network for years, even with no price appreciation.
The network’s ultimate goal is to collect more from transaction fees than it spends through paying witnesses and workers. Delegates can adjust the transaction fees and referral commission rates to ensure that the network remains sustainable. By charging appropriate fees and distributing the income in an effective manner, BitShares-powered networks can grow, even while others struggle. Members pay fees similar to Bitcoin ($0.04 per transaction), while users pay fees similar to Dwolla ($0.20 per transaction) or centralized exchanges (0.2% of trade volume).
A worker is an elected position that is paid to fund new blockchain infrastructure. Their employment “smart contract” specifies a start date, an end date, a daily pay rate, and a vesting period for pay received. Each day, a budget totalling 432,000 BTS is allocated to be paid to all workers. The workers are automatically sorted by net shareholder approval and paid in turn until the daily budget runs out.
Each worker can specify a vesting period for funds received. This optional vesting period reassures stakeholders that a proposed worker has a long-term commitment, because it prevents the received funds from being sold immediately.
Refund workers are a special worker type that return their pay to the reserve pool. These workers can be elected to prevent spending on other workers, which saves more funds in the reserve pool for future projects.