Smart contracts have been mostly associated with the Ethereum blockchain and its what made Ethereum stand out from the crowd of over 1,000 cryptocurrencies.
However, before Vitalik Buterin even thought about creating an improved and more scalable blockchain network – Satoshi Nakamoto had already thought about the potential of smart contracts.
With all the issues that Bitcoin blockchain has been facing recently, a new solution has been brought by a blockchain startup Chain – Bitcoin smart contracts.
Thanks to the arrival of Ivy, a San Francisco based company, the Bitcoin blockchain is one step closer to having its self-executable agreements and getting closer to the Ethereum power.
Bitcoin Smart Contracts Are Possible
Chain has developed its own high-level smart contract language and Bitcoin Script – a low-level programming language for the largest blockchain worldwide.
Ivy will help developers with writing custom, SegWith-compatible Bitcoin addresses that can enforce conditions supported by the Bitcoin protocol – similarly to how Ethereum smart contracts work.
The new code will be capable of verifying signatures, hash commitments and timelocks.
The range of functions that Bitcoin script supports, however, more limited than those supported by the Ethereum Turing-complete network.
Even though Ethereum is much more advanced in terms of smart contract programming, it compromises on its security.
This year alone, the Ethereum network has been a victim of many hackers’ attacks, and keeping the network secure is a priority for Bitcoin.
Hence, even though Bitcoin’s script functionality has been largely overlooked in the history of the blockchain, Ivy intends to change that.
Bitcoin’s Programming Language Problems
Bitcoin Script has a low-level assembly language, which isn’t the most user-friendly to work with. Hence the smart contracts’ implementation has always been a delayed upgrade.
The language released by Chain – Ivy Playground – functions as a safe space for developers to play around and experiment with before it gets implemented correctly.
The Ivy language is still at the very early stage of development. Hence it has to go through some rigorous tests before it’s implemented.
In a blog post announcing the release of Ivy, Chain explained:
“Bitcoin allows you to write [smart] contracts using a low-level programming language, Bitcoin Script. Every Bitcoin address corresponds to a Bitcoin Script program. When you send bitcoins to an address, you are essentially locking them in a safety deposit box on the blockchain. These boxes are typically referred to as “unspent transaction outputs,” but we’ll refer to them as “contracts.” Each contract has an address, which corresponds to a program that must be satisfied in order to unlock and spend the bitcoins.”
So far, Bitcoin Script has been primarily used to create multisig wallets, but thanks to the Lightning Network and the new Ivy language, developers can finally start exploring the Bitcoin network to the full extent.
Bitcoin Smart Contracts by Chain will undoubtedly start driving the Bitcoin price up as the network is finally heading towards a more precise direction.
However, bear in mind that Ivy programming language is still in the test version more for educational and research purposes rather than an established software prototype.
Read more about the potential of smart contracts.