Bitcoin recently celebrated its tenth birthday, a full decade since Satoshi Nakamoto published the inaugural whitepaper that would launch cryptocurrencies and blockchain to the unsuspecting public. Despite its initial status as a proof of concept, Bitcoin remains the distinguished granddaddy of all cryptos.
Even in the depths of a bear market, no other cryptocurrency has yet managed to out-price it in value or market cap. It’s still the jumping off point for most newcomers to the world of crypto. It’s weathered exchange hacks, Silk Road, and too many hard forks to count—but Bitcoin soldiers on regardless.
Of course, Bitcoin has its critics. High-profile figures including JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon, Warren Buffett, and global economist Nouriel Roubini have all been quick to condemn cryptocurrencies. But Bitcoin’s critics don’t just exist outside the crypto sphere.
Even among the crypto and blockchain communities, detractors have pointed to Bitcoin’s slow transaction speeds, high fees, and increasing dependence on centralized mining pools. To some, for a time, “The Flippening,” an as-yet-hypothetical event where Ethereum’s market cap overtakes Bitcoin, seemed almost inevitable.
Bitcoin’s hardcore supporters, miners, and investors don’t care about any of this. The Bitcoin blockchain keeps moving relentlessly forward regardless of any criticism.
Is Anyone Right?
There is some truth in the argument that the Bitcoin network is slow. However, let’s sidestep the block size rabbit hole for now. Instead, it’s fair to say that network speed is linked to the age of the technology plus the increasing size of its user base. Over the ten years of Bitcoin’s life, competitors have sprung up around it, and many blockchains now offer more features and enhanced functionality compared to the original Bitcoin blockchain.
Of course, Satoshi intended it to be this way. The Bitcoin blockchain was deliberately engineered to be Turing-incomplete, so it served the purpose of being a cryptocurrency and nothing else. That was before Vitalik Buterin came along with his ideas of Turing-complete blockchains that could run smart contracts and dApps.
Now, years later, standing up against platforms like Ethereum, NEO, EOS, and others, Bitcoin does stand at risk of obsoletion if it doesn’t evolve. And evolved it has, with the development of the Lightning Network, and RSK.
The Lightning Network is designed to overcome the issue of Bitcoin’s scalability. While the major payment networks like Visa can process an average of 24,000 transactions per second, Bitcoin is stuck at a measly seven. This becomes an even bigger issue during price spikes, as many people use the network and it becomes painfully slow.
The Lightning Network allows two parties who want to exchange Bitcoin to create a private channel using a multi-signature wallet for which they each hold a private key. They can then transfer Bitcoins using that channel. Transactions are only uploaded to the blockchain once the channel is closed. This allows any two parties to conduct multiple transactions between themselves, without clogging up the Bitcoin network to record each transaction separately.
Because Lightning Network transactions don’t take place directly on the blockchain, they are less secure than traditional Bitcoin payments. However, the Lightning Network enables low- or no-cost microtransactions in Bitcoin that would otherwise be uneconomical.
One further fascinating feature of the Lightning Network is the opportunity for cross-chain swaps of funds, so users could exchange Bitcoin and Litecoin between themselves, for example. The Lightning Network makes Bitcoin far more flexible and accessible, and so may ultimately help to increase adoption.
When Ethereum launched back in 2014, it made Bitcoin look like a one-trick pony. A platform that could not only store and exchange value on a blockchain but allowed programmable smart contracts and decentralized applications seemed light years ahead. The RSK Federation decided to change this by implementing a smart contract layer previously developed by a company called Rootstock onto the Bitcoin blockchain.
Now the RSK main net has launched as a Bitcoin side chain. Using RSK, a developer can code smart contracts and decentralized applications using the Solidity programming language in the same way they can on Ethereum. The RSK tokens use a two-way peg to the price of Bitcoin. When someone builds a smart contract, the relevant value of BTC is locked onto the Bitcoin blockchain, and the same amount of SBTC (the RSK platform token) is released onto RSK to fulfill the terms of the contract.
Temco is one of the first dApps to be developed on the RSK blockchain. Temco is a secure, real-time supply chain management program designed for SME clients. Using the RSK smart contracts, Temco’s tracking software will allow clients to track and trace goods from their origin all the way through until they reach the end consumer.
On why the company chose RSK to develop its solution, Temco’s Co-Founder and CEO Scott Jaesob Yoon had this to say:
“Bitcoin is the most dominant, secure and decentralized network, and has proven this in the past ten years. Thanks to off-chain solutions like Lightning Network and RSK’s development tool, Bitcoin’s ecosystem is expected to grow even bigger, and become highly adopted. This is a win-win for both blockchain dAPP companies like Temco, and for crypto economy enthusiasts.
Being a pioneer when it comes to Bitcoin smart contracts (RSK) isn’t easy and is very demanding, but we are positive it will help us make supply chains more transparent, efficient – and powered by the strongest network.”
Bitcoin is Here to Stay
While critics of Bitcoin aren’t going anywhere,neither is the technology itself. Bitcoin has a vibrant and intelligent community of people around it who are making long-term investments in its ecosystem and thus, its future.
Like it or not, Bitcoin’s in it for the long haul.