Rootstock aims to enhance, or in a sense, “upgrade” Bitcoin by providing faster transaction times, better scalability, merge mining capabilities, as well as new features that will potentially unlock unprecedented use case scenarios for Bitcoin.
Commonly referred to as RSK, Rootstock is the first open-source smart contract platform with an integrated Turing complete system for Bitcoin, meaning that the network will be able to compute any algorithmically computable function. Operating where one Rootoshi is pegged at a one-to-one ratio to a Satoshi, Rootstock works by using a semi-trust free sidechain as Bitcoin does not currently support smart contracts.
The security of the Bitcoin network is also an initiative for Rootstock that they taking on through a hybrid security model called the “RSK Federation”. Several industry-leading Bitcoin companies have pledged support. The list includes Bitfinex, Blocktrail, Xapo, and Bitgo just to name a few. The list at the time of writing contains 24 companies of similar caliber and is expected to grow further.
Wences Casares, CEO of Xapo, said
“We are very excited about what RSK is doing by bringing Ethereum-like capabilities to the Bitcoin network. This will take the Bitcoin ecosystem to the next level and unveil the endless possibilities of the Blockchain technology.”
The Federation is described as a group of 'well-known' and 'community respected' members. They would be responsible for signing Federated checkpoints for Proof of Work mined blocks, as a means to prevent a 51 percent attack when RSK’s hashing power is below 50 percent of the total Bitcoin hashing power.
In a worst-case scenario, where Rootstock’s mining power is below 5 percent of Bitcoin’s, their last resort protocol will execute, where the Federation can create signed blocks. The Federation also becomes inactive once “Rootstock’s hashing power is over 66 percent of the maximum Bitcoin difficulty observed in the best chain and the fees paid a block is higher or equal to the average reward of a Bitcoin block.”
Each member will be identified via a public key for the checkpoints signature scheme and the Federation will be able to add or remove members using an integrated voting system where an action is only executed when a high percentage of the members vote.
Rootstock is also excited about the institutional application that comes from the RSK Federation. Thanks to the generation of external security checkpoints, active “oracling” services to gather information from external sources, as well as providing instant peg liquidity and multi-signature services to users, and more than 20 institutions plan to launch services with RSK stated Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar, RSK Labs CEO.
“This hybrid security model will be key to promote institutional use cases. We have more than 20 international banks, insurance companies, governments and development agencies that are planning to launch their services over RSK.”
In addition to this, Sergio Lerner, RSK Chief Scientist, is working together with several universities and security experts to standardize security standards for smart contracts as well as best practices for them.
RSK launched its initial test net, named Lotus, earlier this year in May. It is currently being tested by some select partners. Later on this year, Rootstock is planning to release new use cases as well as additional hashing power for its mining network. Turmeric, the new version of their test net, is scheduled for release at the end of September with their production network (Ginger) planned to be online by early 2017.