In a few weeks, the Forta Network will introduce fees, requiring users to pay for the bots they consume, and rewarding the bot developers. This is a major milestone for the Forta Network and community, as developer incentives represent a necessary component of a sustainable and decentralized Forta Network. This post will unpack the what, why and how of fees, and what it means for bot developers and users.
When the Forta Network launched in Fall 2021, a majority of the early detection bots were developed directly by DeFi protocols, or third party developers working under a grant from a DeFi project. Their incentive was to protect the protocols they worked for. As the network expanded to more threat-focused detection bots, the Forta Foundation launched the Threat Research initiative (TRi) to incentivize developers to participate in a variety of threat detection-related activities including bot development, exploit analysis and threat hunting. TRi participants were rewarded with a variety of one-time bounties.
All of these incentives have proven useful to bootstrap an initial developer community, but they offer limited upside to individual developers and are not sustainable over a long time horizon. In order to attract and reward developers to build high quality detection bots, the network needs native incentive mechanisms.
Allowing bot developers to collect fees from users has several important advantages:
Uncapped upside potential. High quality bots with broad appeal can attract hundreds, even thousands of subscribers. The more effort a bot developer is willing to put towards maintaining and promoting a bot also increases the likelihood of attracting more paying subscribers. For individual developers that may not want to build and operate a security company, Forta offers an opportunity to monetize their skills in an asymmetric way. For security teams, building on Forta offers an opportunity to sell into an existing ecosystem of potential buyers.
Recurring revenue. As described below, a monthly subscription model allows bot developers to generate a recurring stream of revenue from their bots. Over time, this could result in an exponential increase in earnings when compared to one-time bounty and grant payouts.
Market-based pricing. Bounties and grants compensate the developer for their time at an agreed-upon hourly rate. On the other hand, subscription fees force the market to determine a bot’s value. The higher the value, or perceived value, the more a bot developer can justifiably charge.
As previewed above, fees will come in the form of monthly subscriptions. Users that want to receive alerts and other intelligence generated by Forta detection bots will need to purchase one or more monthly subscription plans. Initially, there will be two types of plans: Premium and General.
Premium Plans: A handful of high quality, high value detection bots that meet minimum requirements set forth in FP-6 (i.e. Scam Detector). Access to these premium bots will each require a separate subscription, the price of which will be set by the bot’s owner. The bot owner can also specify whether the monthly subscription is paid in FORT or USDC.
Note: If you are a developer and want your detection bot to be available as a Premium plan on the Forta Network, you can submit a forum proposal by following the instructions here.
General Plan: Grants a user access to alerts and other intel generated by all bots on the network other than premium bots. Given the likely number of premium bots, the General Plan effectively gives users access to over 99% of bots on the network, including all protocol-specific bots (i.e. Lido, MakerDAO, Compound, etc.). As part of FP-6, the Forta community voted to initially price the General Plan at 250 FORT/month. If you are a DeFi protocol team and only subscribed to your protocol’s bot, your total monthly cost to continue using those bots will be 250 FORT (or approximately $32 at the time of publishing). This price of the General Plan may change in the future based on community governance.
Because bot developers are the primary value creators on the network, 100% of subscription revenue will be distributed to bot developers. Premium bot owners will receive 100% of Premium plan revenue for their bot. Example, if Premium Plan A is priced at $100 USDC/mo and receives 10 subscribers in August, the bot’s owner will receive $1,000 USDC. General Plan revenue will be distributed pro-rata based on a bot’s subscriber count for a given week.
Subscription plan purchases will occur on chain in either FORT or USDC using Unlock Protocol. For simplicity sake, all subscriptions will be monthly and can be auto-renewed to the extent there are sufficient assets in your wallet. While certain community members have requested usage-based pricing in the future, initially both Premium and General plans will have flat monthly pricing and support unlimited API calls.
Post-fees launch, accessing Forta data will continue to work the same. Users that purchase one or more plans can access alerts and other intel by subscribing directly to a bot or via Forta’s GraphQL API.
To ensure a smooth transition, existing Forta users are eligible for a two-week grace period effective from August 8 through August 22, with subscription fees being funded by the Forta Foundation. If you are currently using Forta and want to receive a one month free trial, please complete this form.