January 3rd marks the birthday of a young digital currency. No, not that one. While most eyes are on the Bitcoin decennial, another cryptocurrency is also blowing out a candle. Rootstock, a smart contract side chain to the Bitcoin blockchain, celebrates its first anniversary today, marking one full year in the project to integrate Ethereum-like functionality to the most famous digital currency.
RIFLabs, which leads the development of the smart contract platform, marked the date with a report highlighting Rootstock’s achievements in its first year. Among these, the development team says, are 2,900 Github commits, 50 partnerships in key industries like node hosting and supply chain management, and launching the Root Infrastructure Framework Open Standard (RIF OS), which provides the software and infrastructure to streamline dApp development.
Meanwhile, Smart Bitcoins (RBTC), the bitcoin-equivalent tokens on the Rootstock network, have entered trading on major exchanges like Huobi and Bitfinex, making it easier for casual users to acquire the tokens. Merge mining-the process by which mining nodes can concurrently solve blocks for both Bitcoin and Rootstock—has risen from 5% to over 40%, an eightfold increase in the security of the sidechain.
In a statement, RIF Labs CEO Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar described the anniversary as another step towards greater financial inclusion:
The founding motivation of the RSK Smart Contract Network was the creation of the Internet of Value, a network of networks that takes the vision and values of Bitcoin one step further…. There is still much to achieve in the years ahead, but the growth and development we’ve seen with RSK since its official launch last year is a positive message for Bitcoin, RSK, and the ecosystem as a whole despite market conditions.
Old Blockchain, New Tricks
As the oldest blockchain network, Bitcoin’s programming language is not Turing-complete, meaning it is unable to process the complicated repetitions and loops of more sophisticated programming languages. Although other platforms like Ethereum provide advanced functionality for decentralized applications, Rootstock represents the first effort to incorporate Bitcoin tokens directly into a smart contract.
It’s not alone, though, as the past year has seen several efforts to create interoperable cross-chain protocols—most notably by Ark and Wanchain, which successfully side chained itself to Bitcoin and Ethereum last month. A third-party custodian, WBTC, also issues bitcoin-backed tokens on the Ethereum network.
“There are still many technical challenges we need to overcome to achieve our goal of financial inclusion across the globe,” said RIF Labs Chief Scientist Sergio Lerner, in a statement. “I only expect our progress to continue in year two, particularly in scaling the RSK blockchain with both on-chain and off-chain improvement proposals, an improved core, and the launch of the RIF OS.”
This will allow many advanced dApps to have analogs on the Bitcoin sidechain, including file storage, oracle-like data feeds, and off-chain payments. A scaling solution, described as “Shrinking Chains,” has been proposed by RSKSmart developers to allow the network to handle higher levels of throughput.
The author is invested in Bitcoin and Ethereum, which are mentioned in this article.