The Bitcoin network continues to grow, with numerous ecosystems emerging and competing to make a difference in the space.
With BTC’s market capitalization currently over $400 billion and having surpassed the $1 trillion mark in the recent past, the network has enormous room for growth.
In the list below, we’ll highlight four blockchain ecosystems positioning themselves to serve as the cornerstone of next-gen digital assets that Bitcoin developers should have on their radar.
Mintlayer is a layer-2 protocol that provides the infrastructure and critical tools to build disruptive projects, including DeFi, dApps, and smart contracts on Bitcoin.
By giving developers the means to build on the Bitcoin network, the protocol enables them to realize the network’s full potential, laying the foundation for pushing the limits of Bitcoin.
Mintlayer is the first and only DeFi/Bitcoin platform to achieve direct interoperability with the native Bitcoin network. The protocol aims to develop a DEX for atomic swaps, giving users certainty and delivering security against counterparty risk.
Mintlayer also aims to improve scalability on the Bitcoin network with its UTXO model and Signature aggregation. The UTXO model facilitates P2P transaction batching, allowing users to batch multiple token transactions into one transaction.
The signature aggregation compresses payment sizes by up to 70% to prevent network congestion. Mintlayer will also support the Lightning Network, providing users with near-instant low-cost transactions. Furthermore, the protocol’s UTXO structure plus transaction batching helps improve the anonymity of payments.
The Liquid Network is a sidechain protocol built on the Bitcoin blockchain. Developed by Blockstream, the network primarily serves cryptocurrency traders, institutional investors, and exchanges and is designed to facilitate fast, private, and secure issuance, exchange, and transfer of assets on the BTC network.
Although Liquid Network runs on Bitcoin’s base layer, it is autonomous/independent and deploys various techniques to provide higher throughput and greater transaction confidentiality.
Liquid Network leverages signed blocks, which speed up transaction processing and validation, making it ideal for arbitrage traders who perform rapid cross-exchange trades to make profits. New blocks are confirmed within two minutes, which is in contrast to the ten minutes required to create a new block on the Bitcoin blockchain.
Furthermore, the Bitcoin network uses a public ledger to improve transparency. As a result, third parties can view transaction details, which can be a bother for entities executing large-scale transactions. Liquid Network’s confidential transactions conceal key transaction data from third parties, making it visible only to direct participants.
Also, Liquid’s higher throughput limits network clogs and ensures lower transaction costs. As a result, retail and institutional investors can trade BTC at low transaction costs while leveraging Bitcoin’s security and liquidity.
The Liquid Network continues to thrive as a popular solution for scaling and modifying the BTC network to meet enterprise needs. Without altering the underlying protocol, Liquid enhances Bitcoin and gives users more functionality without compromising security.
It also introduces tokenization, interoperability, and programmable functionality to the Bitcoin blockchain, enabling it to hold onto its position as the world’s top blockchain against Ethereum, Solana, Cardano, and other more recent competitors.
Developed by a group of Argentine developers, Rootstock (RSK) is a layer-2 smart contract sidechain built on the Bitcoin network. Rootstock allows dApps developers to build DeFi protocols, NFTs, etc., while leveraging every Bitcoin blockchain attribute, including decentralization, transparency, high level of security, and stability.
Without a doubt, RSK will improve the BTC ecosystem with its two-way peg design secured by the RSK Federation. It delivers a solution to BTC’s lack of smart contracts with a Turing-complete RSK Virtual Machine (RVM), which is also compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).
Scalability is one of the primary issues legacy blockchains like the Bitcoin blockchain encounter, and RSK aims to fix it without sacrificing decentralization or consuming store space. Up to 300 transactions can be processed per second using Rootstock, making BTC faster.
Rootstock’s services are also aimed at increasing transactability. With its cutting-edge protocols like DECOR and GHOST, RSK can enable immediate payments, unlike Bitcoin, where transactions take much longer.
Lastly, RSK employs a Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus variant called merged mining. This allows the same miners that secure the Bitcoin network to also secure RSK. Because of this, Bitcoin miners are actively supporting it.
RSK is an ambitious project, and how it integrates into an evolving landscape and enhances the Bitcoin network’s functionality is an interesting trend to monitor as projects that optimize the legacy blockchain continue to emerge.
Layer-1 blockchain solution, Stacks, was created to bring smart contracts and dApps to the Bitcoin network. Stacks takes everything that makes Bitcoin powerful and adds new features to it without forking or altering the original Bitcoin network.
To do this, Stacks uses a Proof of Transfer (PoX) consensus mechanism to link to the Bitcoin blockchain, with miners paying in BTC to create new STX tokens.
Thousands of Stacks transactions result in a single Bitcoin network hash. As a result, these transactions are settled automatically every time a block is created on Bitcoin. In addition, Stacks has introduced the concept of microblocks, allowing confirmation to happen within seconds.
Stacks also released a new smart contract programming language called Clarity. This programming language’s unique and unambiguous syntax design makes it secure and easy to build with.
The Bitcoin network has significantly expanded over the last decade. However, we live in a world where the adoption of smart contracts, DeFi, NFTs, and Dapps is expanding at breakneck speed.
As blockchain technology expands, new protocols are emerging and attempting to further disrupt an already revolutionary space. While there is no way to tell the future, these four blockchains are crucial to improving several aspects of the Bitcoin blockchain, demonstrating a serious potential to become leaders in the Bitcoin ecosystem.
Hence, these blockchains must be monitored closely since they could revolutionize the Bitcoin network as we know it.
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