Up until this point, a lot of people assumed smart contracts would not be possible on the Bitcoin blockchain itself. This is part of the reason new projects, such as Ethereum, are gaining a lot of attention, as their blockchain allows for automated smart contract execution. However, a recent post on Medium seems to indicate something else entirely, as Rootstock would allow for smart contracts to be used on the Bitcoin blockchain.
Rootstock To Make Bitcoin-based Smart Contracts Possible?
Keeping in mind how the Rootstock project is not much more than a technical whitepaper at this point, it might be a bit premature to cry victory for Bitcoin right now. There is no code available for interested parties to take a closer look at, and there is no indication as to how far the team has come regarding development. However, that not prevented Coinsilium from investing in Rootstock, pushing the company’s valuation to the US$5m mark.
Based on that information in the whitepaper, it would – theoretically speaking – be possible to run Ethereum smart contracts on the Rootstock Turing-complete Virtual Machine. But there is a big difference, as this VM will use the Bitcoin blockchain, rather than any other form of distributed ledger technology.
Moreover, the plan is to generate new blocks on the platform every 20 seconds, and the team hopes to achieve a total of 300 transactions per second. However, there is no plan to use any form of merge-mining to support the Rootstock platform, but rather by using a sidechain. Doing so allows assets to be transferred back and forth between Rootstock and Bitcoin while still keeping both blockchains separate.
But that is not all, as Rootstock is one of the very few projects on the blockchain that will not issue a new token through a pre-sale, making it complete different from other assets and altcoins. There will be a Rootstock token – RTC – which can only be accessed when BTC is transferred to the sidechain and converted to an equivalent amount of RTC. A user looking to transfer bitcoins back to the Bitcoin network will see their RTC balance convert back to its original value.
A Federation of prominent Bitcoin companies will help secure the transfer of funds between the Bitcoin blockchain and Rootstock sidechain. Transfer transactions will be subject to fees, which acts as an incentive for the Federation. However, they will not be responsible for locking and unlocking funds; as this process will take place automatically.
In the end, Rootstock seems to combine flexible services associated with Ethereum and top notch security found in Bitcoin. Whether or not this will result in smart contracts on top of the Bitcoin protocol, remains to be seen. The technology seems to support it, but it is up to the Rootstock developers to deliver the goods.
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