DeFi on Bitcoin Part 1: A Guide To Building dApps With Rootstockby@rootstock_io
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8,432 reads

DeFi on Bitcoin Part 1: A Guide To Building dApps With Rootstock

by RootstockJuly 27th, 2023
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Blockchain technology has revolutionized numerous industries by providing secure and transparent decentralized solutions, starting with Bitcoin. Bitcoin pioneered the blockchain revolution, establishing a decentralized and secure framework for storing value and peer-to-peer transactions. However, it was primarily a transactional system with limited programmability.
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Blockchain technology has revolutionized numerous industries by providing secure and transparent decentralized solutions, starting with Bitcoin.

Bitcoin pioneered the blockchain revolution, establishing a decentralized and secure framework for storing value and peer-to-peer transactions. However, it was primarily a transactional system with limited programmability.

Ethereum came along to address this limitation, introducing a platform with native support for complex smart contracts, allowing the creation of DeFi and becoming a gateway for Web3 applications. However, this came at the cost of losing Bitcoin’s level of security.

This is where the EVM-compatible Bitcoin layer 2 solution Rootstock comes into play, combining the security of Bitcoin with the programmability of Ethereum.

In this article, we explore how layer 2 solutions extend the capabilities of Bitcoin, why developers choose Rootstock to build on Bitcoin, and how you can start building your own app or service on the Rootstock blockchain.

But first…

What Is the Rootstock Blockchain?

Rootstock, formerly known as RSK, is an EVM-compatible sidechain built upon the Bitcoin network.

It combines the best of Bitcoin and Ethereum, allowing the creation of dApps while taking advantage of the robust security of Bitcoin. Over 50% of the hashing power that secures Bitcoin also protects Rootstock through a Proof of Work (PoW) mechanism known as Merge Mining.

Like most sidechains, Rootstock works by connecting to the main chain through a two-way-peg system or bridge. This way, developers can represent Bitcoins as Smart Bitcoins (RBTC) inside Rootstock, the token used to pay for the gas required for the execution of transactions.

RBTC is pegged 1:1 with BTC, which means, that in Rootstock, there are exactly 21M RBTC. The Powpeg allows the transfer of bitcoins from the Bitcoin blockchain to the Rootstock blockchain and vice-versa.

Powpeg is the most trustless and secure bridge to Rootstock, but as a result, it also takes the longest to process. If you need RBTC quickly, you can use RIF Flyover and Sovryn FastBTC which take under 30 minutes to bridge RBTC and BTC.

Why Developers Choose to Build on Rootstock

Developing on Rootstock holds substantial advantages, including:

1. Scaling Bitcoin While Maintaining Security:

Rootstock blockchain is highly secure as it is built on Bitcoin’s PoW consensus security mechanism. A large portion of Bitcoin miners participate in Rootstock merge-mining, providing the persistence and liveness blockchain properties required for effectively securing the Rootstock network.

The role of merged-miners in the Powpeg protocol is the largest and most crucial layer of Rootstock's defense-in-depth approach to securing the bridge between Rootstock and Bitcoin.

2. EVM-Compatibility With Rootstock Virtual Machine:

Rootstock supports deploying Smart Contracts since it is EVM-compatible. This means that developers familiar with EVM-compatible dApps can seamlessly build new projects and migrate existing ones to Rootstock. See How to Port your Ethereum Projects to Rootstock.

This interoperability with Ethereum smart contracts is attributed to the Rootstock Virtual Machine (RVM), based on the Ethereum Virtual Machine, which enables the execution of Ethereum smart contracts on Rootstock.

Developers can seamlessly use the same code, smart contract programming language (Solidity), tooling, and libraries when building Rootstock applications. In turn, this gives the Ethereum community a cheaper and faster alternative for interacting with their favorite dApps.

Users can also send their Rootstock assets to Metamask, a popular Ethereum digital wallet.

3. Lower Fees:

Rootstock provides lower transaction costs than Ethereum and Bitcoin (about 50 times cheaper gas fees). This is made possible via the layer 2 nature of Rootstock, enabling it to process multiple transactions in parallel, ultimately batching the cost of multiple transactions.

This is also possible via RIF Rollup, a Rootstock scaling solution, which offers fast, on-the-spot payments at an ultra-low transaction cost by leveraging the scaling power of zero-knowledge (ZK) proofs.

4. Faster Transactions:

The Rootstock network can reach up to 300 TPS (transactions per second), way faster than Ethereum’s 27 TPS and Bitcoin’s 7 TPS. See for more information.

5. Rapidly Growing User Base

Rootstock is a rapidly growing ecosystem consisting of partners and an active developer community with over +140 dApps built on Rootstock.

6. Active Support Community

Rootstock has an active community of multilingual members across Telegram, Slack, and Discord platforms.

7. Exciting Perks and Opportunities

The Rootstock Developers Portal is a hub for all developer resources and tools needed to get started building on Rootstock.

Take advantage of opportunities and learning resources like the ambassador program to get exclusive rewards and benefits and take on an active role in advancing the Rootstock ecosystem!

Rootstock also provides a variety of resources for developers to learn about blockchain and smart contract development. Check out the Courses on Rootstock.

Why Is Rootstock a Unique Bitcoin Sidechain?

Extending Bitcoin Capabilities With Rootstock

As a sidechain, Rootstock has a unique design that enables it to extend the capabilities of Bitcoin in a seamless and secure manner. Here’s how:

Merged Mining

The Rootstock blockchain uses the same Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus algorithm as Bitcoin, except miners can generate blocks significantly faster than Bitcoin’s base layer. These Rootstock blocks are mined through a process called merged mining.

Since both blockchains use the same consensus, miners can engage in merged mining to mine for the Bitcoin and Rootstock blockchains simultaneously. Bitcoin and Rootstock consume the same mining computing power, so miners can contribute hash rate to mine blocks on Rootstock.

Ultimately, merged mining can increase a miner’s profitability without requiring additional resources.

Merged mining allows Rootstock to validate transactions, create blocks, and send them to Bitcoin. With this mining process, users can have peace of mind knowing that Rootstock smart contracts benefit from the battle-tested security of the Bitcoin blockchain.

Read more about merged mining in the Armadillo Book.


Powpeg is the two-way bridge for transferring Bitcoin to and from the Rootstock blockchain.

Technically, the Rootstock platform does not have its own native gas token. Instead, Rootstock uses RBTC, which is issued at a 1:1 ratio against BTC locked on the Bitcoin network. RBTC will always possess the same value as BTC and is used to pay transaction fees on Rootstock.

Bridging funds between Rootstock and Bitcoin is controlled by 2 main mechanisms: a vault and a smart contract. Transferring Bitcoin to Rootstock is a process known as peg-in, and requires the user to lock an amount of BTC into a vault on the Bitcoin network.

This enables unlocking the corresponding BTC amount on Rootstock.

Conversely, transferring BTC back to the Bitcoin network from Rootstock peg-out requires the user to send an amount of RBTC to a smart contract on Rootstock. This subsequently unlocks the corresponding amount of BTC from the vault on Bitcoin.

Read more about the Powpeg.

Inside the Rootstock Ecosystem

Due to its secure infrastructure and scaling capabilities, Rootstock blockchain enables developers to build a wide range of dApps including payment solutions, lending protocols, asset-swapping tools, and more.

Getting Started With Rootstock

New to smart contract deployment? Enroll for the Rootstock Blockchain developer course created by IOV Labs or see the tutorial on The Complete Full Stack dApp on Rootstock.

Expert at building dApps on Ethereum, go ahead and visit Rootstock Developer Portal to bring your dApps to life on Rootstock.

About Rootstock

Rootstock, previously known as RSK, is a game-changer in the blockchain sphere. It's a sidechain to Bitcoin that brings Ethereum's smart contract capabilities into the mix, essentially giving us the best of both worlds.

As a developer, this opens up a plethora of opportunities for DApp creation in a highly secure environment.

It's got the power of Bitcoin's security and Ethereum's programmability. Plus, transaction costs are way lower, and speeds hit up to 300 transactions per second.

So, if you're thinking of delving deeper into blockchain development, Rootstock is a solid bet. It’s high-performance, cost-effective, and perfectly primed for smart contract applications.

This could be a major stepping stone in anyone’s dev journey. You can start coding by following the Rootstock Blockchain developer course!