The long-awaited smart contract solution for Bitcoin’s blockchain that offers additional scaling improvements, RSK, is preparing to launch. News.Bitcoin.com spoke with Sergio Demián Lerner, RSK Labs’ chief scientist, about to what to expect from the RSK launch as well as the subsequent launch of the Lightning-style scaling upgrade Lumino.
Planned December Launch
Open-source smart contract platform RSK is a Bitcoin sidechain with a 2-way peg and merged mining to reward bitcoin miners for securing the RSK network. “RSK enables smart-contracts, near instant payments and higher-scalability,” its website describes. RSK Lab’s CEO and co-founder Diego Gutiérrez Zaldívar recently posted on the company’s Telegram channel, “On December 4th RSK Mainnet beta will be launched.”
Lerner shared with news.Bitcoin.com on Friday some details of the upcoming RSK launch.
Sergio Lerner (SL): Our timeframe hasn’t changed much because we had aimed to launch after the Segwit2x hard-fork.
If everything goes as planned, we’ll launch in December a Mainnet in beta mode.
BC: Which features will be fully functional in the beta version?
SL: In this mode, every component will be deployed, but we’ll restrict the amount of smart bitcoins that can enter our platform, and we’ll gradually raise the limit, until we gain more confidence that the platform is working as expected based on the feedback from the community.
BC: Which of RSK’s security features will be ready at launch?
SL: We need to see merge-mining hashing power rising up to a threshold that provides enough security. Until this happens, we may need periodic checkpoints broadcast by the RSK federation.
We’ll go from partial decentralization to full decentralization gradually. The current times we live in are very different from 2009. Now people could pour millions of dollars into token sales in RSK the first day of its existence. We need to prevent people from losing money; merge-mined hashing power needs to rise first to secure the funds.
Lumino Launch to Follow
The Lumino network “is a Lightning-style network,” which Lerner described as “a Bitcoin soft-fork.” The network uses its own compression protocol, referred to as the Lumino Transaction Compression Protocol (LTCP), according to its whitepaper. Lerner told news.Bitcoin.com in a previous interview that “LTCP scales Bitcoin 8.3 times, while Segwit only 1.8 times,” and he estimated that “the Lumino/LTCP/RSK/Bitcoin combo can serve 1 billion users.”
BC: When is Lumino expected to launch?
The first layer of Lumino (the LTCP protocol) will be deployed after the Mainnet launch – 2nd quarter 2018.
The Lumino testnet will be ready in that milestone. There have been numerous interesting developments in terms of 2nd layer networks in the past weeks: Liquidity Network, Raiden, and more. We will closely follow these developments to see how they can inter-operate with or improve Lumino.
RSK’s Scaling Benefits
BC: Before Lumino is launched, will there be any scaling benefit from RSK to Bitcoin?
SL: Yes. Scaling with decentralization requires technical improvements to make transactions cheap.
The technical reason on-chain payments in RSK will always be much cheaper than in Bitcoin is that standard RSK payments are much shorter than Bitcoin payments. A random RSK payment using LTCP can be compressed to 30 bytes on the blockchain. A standard Bitcoin payment is more than ten times that size, so RSK can outperform Bitcoin in transactions per second while still maintain a high degree of decentralization. Also executing a standard RSK payment consumes less CPU and disk I/O resources than a standard Bitcoin payment.
Last but not least, we’ll be implementing parallel transaction verification (multi-thread) which reduces block time verification, enabling higher scalability.
Regarding the scale we’re talking about, in RSK, miners vote for the network throughput and:
RSK could easily reach 100 transactions per second on-chain.
This doesn’t mean miners will enable 100 tps right from the start, but they eventually will be able to. It will be a real boost to scaling bitcoin (the currency). However, this is not the same as scaling Bitcoin (the platform) because the security guarantees of smart bitcoins stored in RSK are different than of Bitcoin.
To scale with decentralization, RSK will be rewarding full nodes with the PoUBS [Proof-of-Unique-Blockchain-Storage] contract. We’ll try to be as decentralized as Bitcoin, or even more; we’ll see how things play out.
Preparing for Security
BC: Is RSK completely immune to the problems Ethereum displayed last weekend with its Parity hack?
SL: No. Those problems are application level bugs. Some companies have realized that smart-contract programming is hard and needs security-critical procedures, others are taking longer.
However, the community has identified a large class of common bugs. We’re planning to improve the RSK platform core to prevent those bugs. For instance, we created in 2016 an improvement proposal for RSK (an RSKIP) to prevent library code from accessing persistent contract state, which is exactly what caused the last Parity bug. Now we know how important it is to implement it.
Using RSK Smart Contracts
BC: Could you give some examples of what the RSK smart contracts can do on the launch date?
RSK can do anything that Ethereum currently does, but with smart bitcoins, plus also receiving investments denominated in bitcoin directly to a Bitcoin multisig (without even moving them into RSK).
The RSK platform enables a contract to verify that a Bitcoin transaction has been mined, by using the Bitcoin bridge services.
BC: What businesses or industries do you see embracing RSK first once it is released?
SL: There are all kinds of projects being tested on the RSK Testnet at this moment: identity, prediction markets, fair games, donations, distributed storage, and more. Many smart-contract companies are platform agnostic, and each EVM-compatible platform brings a new opportunity to deploy their applications and acquire more users.
The RSK company focus is on financial inclusion, and therefore we’ll keep working and partnering with companies to build cheaper and more usable payment networks, and user-focused secure money management solutions.
BC: What will the RSK client software look like? (compared to a normal bitcoin orethereum wallet)
SL: It looks much more like an Ethereum wallet than a Bitcoin wallet, in the sense that accounts and contracts are uniquely identified by a single number: there are no UTXOs at the core level. We think that RSK will be integrated into most Bitcoin wallets in the future. As an example, Jaxx already integrates both.