The recently proposed BitVM protocol has generated enthusiasm for its potential to expand Bitcoin’s smart contract capabilities without requiring upgrades to the base layer. However, experts urge a measured assessment as research remains in its early stages.
According to Bob Bodily, the CEO of Bioniq Market, BitVM leverages an Optimistic Rollup design to enable Turing-complete smart contracts on Bitcoin. This theoretically allows any computable function to be verified on-chain via a series of transactions.
The core benefit is introducing additional programmability utilizing Bitcoin’s existing feature set. No new opcodes or soft forks are necessary, highlighting BitVM’s deployability.
What you'll learn 👉
- No Upgrade Required: BitVM doesn’t necessitate upgrades; it’s ready to use immediately.
- Opt-In: Users have the choice to opt in or out, adding flexibility to their transactions.
Potential Use Cases
- Decentralizing Services: BitVM can replace centralized “Bitcoin edge” services, enhancing trustlessness.
- Trustless Contracts: DLC oracles, congestion control, coinjoin aggregators, and sidechain quorums can become 100% trustless.
- Eric Wall is cautiously optimistic about BitVM’s potential, highlighting its ability to verify zk proofs.
- Adam Back compared BitVM to Greg Maxwell’s ZKP contingent payments, but BitVM comes out as superior.
- Super Testnet calls BitVM the most exciting development in Bitcoin script history, opening doors to covenants, sidechains, and EVM-like capabilities without forks.
- Rijndael suggests that enabling BIP-119 (Simple Covenants) would make BitVM more efficient.
- Post Capone commends the positive reception and expects BitVM to further fuel innovation within Bitcoin.
Analysts tout use cases like decentralizing services, which are currently dependent on trusted intermediaries. For example, DLC oracle aggregation and sidechain quorums could transition to entirely trustless models under BitVM.
However, multiple limitations exist in BitVM’s current iteration. The multi-transaction complexity makes applications expensive and slow to execute. Programmability enhancements via soft forks could accomplish similar goals more efficiently.
There are also unresolved questions around enshrining global states and facilitating trustless bridges to sidechains. While research continues, BitVM does not yet deliver a clear path to those desired outcomes.
Additionally, the need for sizeable pre-signed transaction batches poses permission hurdles for certain 1:N setups between multiple parties. Further peer review and live testing will shed light on issues like overhead costs.
Overall, developers praise BitVM’s creative approach to expanding Bitcoin’s capabilities within existing constraints. But as a novel primitive, scrutiny from academics and trial experimentation will determine if the concept’s promise can be fulfilled.
BitVM’s primary objective is to enable “any computable function to be verified on Bitcoin.” This means Bitcoin achieves Turing completeness without requiring any changes. It introduces a runtime for programs, making Bitcoin “Turing complete enough” for most practical purposes.
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