Blockchain technology is being stirred by a new interest in making different chains work together, especially regarding Bitcoin. Until recently, Ethereum had been stealing the spotlight due to its flexible smart contract capabilities that fostered the blossoming decentralized finance (DeFi) sector.
However, Bitcoin, with its unmatched market influence, is back in the spotlight. The pivot toward blockchain interoperability has experts contemplating a potentially diminishing aura around Ethereum.
What Is the Promise of Bitcoin Interoperability?
The growing allure of interoperability with Bitcoin is clear because it is seen as the behemoth of market value and stability in the crypto industry. Besides, institutions have always shown a keen interest in Bitcoin as a store of value.
Ramani Ramachandran, CEO of Router Protocol, told BeInCrypto that the shift towards fostering interoperability with Bitcoin, especially with advancing Layer 2 solutions, illustrates the widespread desire for a more connected blockchain ecosystem. It is about letting Bitcoin engage directly in DeFi, ushering in more liquidity and collateral options.
“Bitcoin’s role could evolve significantly with interoperability. It would enable Bitcoin to directly engage in DeFi, offering liquidity and collateral options. Smart contracts could work across several chains, allowing financial transactions and cross-chain collaborations,” Ramachandran said.
However, Bitcoin was not initially built with flexible smart contract capabilities. It was a key feature that was brought up by Ethereum and made it the darling of DeFi and broader blockchain applications.
“Bitcoin’s scripting language, while designed for security, presents challenges for achieving meaningful interoperability with other protocols. These protocols must facilitate the secure exchange of data and assets between different blockchains, even when they have varying capabilities,” Ramachandran added.
Such lack of versatility in Bitcoin presents a technical hill to climb. Indeed, it would require building smart contract frameworks that can take Bitcoin’s limited scripts and execute them on other chains.
This could enable cross-chain functionality without compromising security, boosting Bitcoin’s adoption as Taiyang Zhang, CEO of Ren Protocol, also noted.
“We believe the first step toward accelerating the mass adoption of Bitcoin as a global, monetary policy revolution is through a state-of-the-art interoperability protocol designed to meet the trust and security needs of Bitcoin users and decentralized financial markets,” Zhang affirmed.
Bringing Ethereum Virtual Machine to Bitcoin
Although achieving Bitcoin interoperability without other blockchains represents a significant challenge, initiatives are already underway to bridge this gap.
“Router Protocol is working together with Rootstock (RSK) to bring smart contracts and Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) compatibility to Bitcoin. People often chose to build on Ethereum due to the use cases available, but bringing those same use cases to Bitcoin will completely change the game. It will allow popular stablecoins, such as USDC and USDT, to be traded across any supported chain, including Bitcoin,” Ramachandran stated.
This kind of bridge attempts to marry Bitcoin’s market dominance with smart contract capabilities. It would make it a more flexible player in the DeFi space with unlimited ripple effects.
By opening up Bitcoin’s liquidity to the DeFi sector, there is potential for a significant influx of funds. Subsequently presenting more sophisticated financial activities within DeFi and introducing Bitcoin holders to a new playground.
The effect could be profound, as Ramachandran noted. Bitcoin’s inclusion in DeFi could diversify the collateral assets available, reducing the risk and potentially improving the stability of DeFi platforms.
“For a long time, store of value has been the only value proposition for Bitcoin. That can finally change. Interoperability would also enable Bitcoin holders to participate in DeFi, where they could earn yield by providing liquidity, lending assets, or participating in other yield-generating activities,” Ramachandran added.
The broader market dynamics could also morph with Bitcoin interoperability. The integration could lead to more efficient arbitrage opportunities across different blockchains, which may reduce overall market volatility.
This change could paint Bitcoin in a new light, pulling more institutional investors toward DeFi, and igniting a new bull run as Moshe Hogeg, CEO of tomiNet, stated.
“When I look at the crypto landscape today, seeing the new blockchains focus on UX, scalability, interoperability, privacy layers, oracles, gaming infrastructure and real world assets… I call the next bull run to be the biggest of them all,” Hogeg said.
The Future Is Bright Despite Growing Skepticism
As Ramachandran envisioned, the future could see Bitcoin and other top blockchains achieving full interoperability within the next five years. This transition aims to foster shared liquidity, propel innovation, and bring a collective push towards a more interconnected crypto ecosystem.
However, there is a counter-narrative. Some maximalists believe Bitcoin should remain “isolated” to preserve its core value propositions.
“You can’t stop them. Well, of course! Bitcoin is designed to be censor resistant. [It] doesn’t stop us mildly commenting on the sheer waste and stupidity of an encoding. at least do something efficient. Otherwise, it’s another proof of consumption of block-space thingy,” Adam Back, CEO of Blockstream said.
Ramachandran appreciates these concerns but argues that interoperability does not essentially alter Bitcoin’s fundamental values. It is about balancing the potential benefits against the risks while maintaining the integrity that makes Bitcoin unique.
This unfolding narrative around Bitcoin interoperability places Ethereum on shaky ground. Ethereum’s early start in DeFi and smart contracts had given it an edge. But as the crypto market begins to pivot towards Bitcoin interoperability, Ethereum might find its stronghold challenged.
Still, Ramachandran suggests pushing towards interoperability with Bitcoin could be a tide that lifts all boats in the crypto harbor, fostering a collaborative rather than competitive spirit among blockchain networks.