RSK Labs’ much-awaited bitcoin-based smart contract platform and sidechain is finally ready on the mainnet as the company successfully mined its genesis block on January 4, 2018, after nearly three years of toiling.
The new sidechain is still in beta with limited distribution, but it comes with the promise to provide some serious scaling benefits to the Bitcoin network.
The breakthrough came nearly a month after the source code for Bamboo, RSK’s first-ever mainnet version, was rolled out for peer review. In addition to mining the genesis block, RSK also appealed the developer community worldwide to give their feedback as part of the company’s “Bug Bounty Program.”
The Bug Bounty Program is there to reward anybody who reports any bugs or potential glitches in the sidechain to RSK.
The node and wallet client of the RSK network is available for download on GitHub. There is also a separate blockchain explorer, as well as a stats panel that allows real-time assessment of the RSK network.
“Initially only 21 smartbitcoins will circulate in the RSK mainnet beta (Bamboo), and they will be allocated to the first 100 companies participating on the RSK incentive program. Although the peg between Bitcoin and RSK will be fully functional, only white-listed addresses will be able to send bitcoins and get smartbitcoins in return. All funds from transactions originated on non-white listed addresses will be returned,” RSK’s chief executive Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar said during his conversation with Bitcoin.com.
Meanwhile, the RSK team is actively working on other wallets including the ones from MyEtherWallet and Jaxx. The company already made it clear that they hoped to see RSK being integrated into most bitcoin wallets in the foreseeable future.
According to Zaldivar, the new sidechain has paved the way for a much faster transaction speed compared to the current speed in the Bitcoin network. He claims Bamboo is optimized to support as many as 100 transactions per second, thus guaranteeing drastic improvement in scalability. Among other things, this will also result in significant reduction in transaction costs.
What’s even better is that not only does RSK outperform bitcoin by offering a much-improved transaction speed, it does so while still maintaining a high-degree of decentralization. (Note: The average RSK payment is significantly shorter than bitcoin payments, hence the transaction speed is way faster.) In the initial stages a group of companies known as the ‘federation’ have control over the money put into the sidechains, but once bitcoin miners and federation members are onboarded, the network will be rolled out to the public.
However, not all of the Bitcoin community is optimistic; Peter Todd said many of the criticisms he raised against sidechains in April 2014 are still relevant today:
1. Merged mining tends towards centralised pools, since each new Sidechain adds overhead to the miner. Pool centralisation risks include censoring of SPV proofs 2. SPV proof based pegs are fundamentally not 100% secure.
— James C. (@digi_james) January 6, 2018
On the other hand, RSK developers are optimistic that they will soon be able to increase the transaction speed to up to 2,000 transactions a second by ensuring parallel processing of smart contracts, transaction compression, and full node incentives. Together with its homegrown Lumino off-chain technology, these improvements are likely to push the efficiency of the network by ten-fold at some point in the future according to RSK’s Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar.