While the price of Bitcoin has been consistently declining throughout 2018, the development around its ecosystem has been blooming.

The progress on Bitcoin’s network has been going slightly under the radar since initial coin offerings (ICO) took a large part of the spotlight for the past two years. As the rush for the next big ICO project is ending, attention is switching towards a more grassroots approach. With many ICO projects showing underwhelming results, this has, in a way, led to Bitcoin strengthening its status.

Development teams that have been working for some years on protocols or layers on top of Bitcoin are starting to showcase their progress — and it looks encouraging.

One of these projects is the RSK (Rootstock) blockchain. This is a sidechain to Bitcoin’s network and enables Ethereum-like smart-contract capabilities with Bitcoin as the underlying asset. In less than a year from its main net launch, RSK has already announced the RSK Name Service — which now allows for human-readable domains on the network.

The Roots of Rootstock

RSK is the first smart-contract platform that is pegged one-to-one with Bitcoin and offers rewards to miners via merge-mining. Being pegged to Bitcoin means that, when a user or smart-contract interacts with the RSK blockchain, it will lock a certain amount of BTC and unlock the same amount of SBTC (Smart Bitcoin) — the token used on the RSK platform.

At this stage of development, the locking and unlocking of coins is done by a federation of established Bitcoin companies, like Xapo, BitPay, Blockchain and BTC.com, among others. This is similar to Blockstream’s Liquid sidechain. However, RSK also has an in-built system for miner rewards.

RSK does not mint coins and has no pre-mine. In order to maintain a high level of network security, it offers miners the possibility of merge-mining. This basically means that all BTC miners can generate blocks on the RSK platform without expending any additional resources and receive rewards for securing the RSK network alongside the Bitcoin network. As a result, no single group has too much power and each group has its own responsibility.

The aim of the RSK team is to extend the Bitcoin network and enable new features for users, without interfering with the development of the Bitcoin blockchain. Consequently, RSK offers a high-transaction-throughput blockchain with low fees and quicker confirmations. Most importantly, it has opened the doors to deploying smart-contracts that were developed for the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).

RSK in 2018

The Genesis block of RSK has been mined in January 2018, although research and development started as early as 2015.

The 2018 year seems like an all-round success in terms of development progress. Alongside multiple code improvements implemented during the year, interest from miners has picked up — with merge-mining increasing from 5 percent to 40 percent. Community interest has also been rising as a result, with the platform undergoing a successful hard-fork proposed by the community.

On the business side of things, RSK founder Sergio Demian Lerner has revealed that over 50 companies are already working with the platform. Development is still in the early stage, but it’s encouraging nonetheless. In November, RSK Labs partnered with RIF Labs through an acquisition transaction by RIF and now are jointly developing open-source libraries for the RSK platform in a bid to attract even more development activity.

Conclusion

The Bitcoin ecosystem has seen a lot of positive developments in 2018. The Lightning Network was launched in February and has grown significantly in the meantime. Blockstream is a company that released its Liquid sidechain aimed at companies in the financial industry. Moreover, it has also launched its Bitcoin Satellite API, which gives access to the Bitcoin network without having to pass through the internet.

RSK, with its open-source ethos, imbues well with what the first and foremost cryptocurrency represents. As Bitcoin strengthens its position as the primary Layer 0, RSK could become a key platform in building decentralized applications. While RSK does not compete with BTC, it could pose a risk to Ethereum. RSK has the same offering in terms of smart-contract capability, albeit with Bitcoin as the underlying asset.

[bctt tweet=”Should Bitcoin become the global reserve currency, RSK could jump ahead of Ethereum as a viable option for decentralized application development.” username=”beincrypto”]

What do you think? Will a thriving Bitcoin environment destroy other platforms that have a similar offering? Tell us in your comments!

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