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Ruben Altman AMA Session

Published on: 26 August, 2019

On this post, RSK´s Head of Adoption Ruben Altman, provides the answers to his AMA session.

Which are the main pros over Blockstream’s Liquid (RSK Main Competitor)?

There are only two other Bitcoin sidechain projects that are currently active: Liquid and Truthcoin’s drivechain. Liquid is a federated sidechain, somehow similar to RSK. Liquid aims to be an inter-exchange settlement network linking together cryptocurrency exchanges, enabling faster Bitcoin transactions. It’s optimized for a single use case. RSK is much more generic and programmable, having stateful smart-contracts. Also, RSK is highly compatible with Ethereum applications, libraries and toolchains. It has a large ecosystem and trained developers. Liquid applications currently depend on a single library provided by Blockstream and has a niche ecosystem.

Another key difference, is that Liquid uses its Federation for block consensus, while RSK uses merge-mining and currently it has about 40% of Bitcoin’s hashrate. Therefore, RSK has actual “thermodynamic” security. Anyone can participate in RSK merge-mining, so anyone can receive transaction fees.

Regarding onchain transaction throughput, RSK can achieve a higher volume than Liquid because essentially, RSK’s payment transactions are smaller than Liquid’s. However, currently the transaction throughput in RSK is limited by its miners, which can increase or decrease the block gas limit. In following RSK network upgrades, we may see two important developments implemented: the LTCP protocol (see RSKIP53) and parallel transaction processing (see RSKIP04). These improvements together enable 30x transaction throughput increase in RSK. Another key difference between RSK and Liquid is that the RSK peg is open. It can be used by individual users without going through an exchange, and a KYC process. However, the fastest way to get RBTC is still exchanging BTC at a crypto exchange because it takes a day to transfer bitcoins to RSK using the peg. In terms of Federation security, Liquid uses a 11-out-of-15 multisig with a 2-of-3 time-locked emergency spend, and RSK uses a 8-out-of-15 multisig, so each sidechain has different trade offs between availability and security.


Do you think adoption has been any good so far? What are your views on improving it further?

There has been an acceleration of developers choosing to build their solution on top of RSK. Some of the solutions already available on the RSK platform are Circle of Angels, Bitgive and Blockchain for Humanity all of them charity initiatives, dexFreight a logistics platform; Watafan, a dapp for fans, Crypto Spaceshift a gaming app, Tokkenit a loyalty app, Insuretech, an insurance protection solution; Chronologic, decentralized scheduling, Signatura legal services solutions on blockchain, and new ones that are under development such as Investoland, a global decentralized investment platform & Money On Chain, a solution aimed at managing the volatility of crypto assets.

Some relevant use cases that are currently working with RSK can be seen on our website ( The page does not list every use-case running on RSK, there are other projects related to government, banking, gaming, logistics, dev-tools and other industries that are onboard or will be launched on RSK that will be communicated soon. With that being said, we have launched many initiatives this year like the opening of the RSK Innovation Studio in San Francisco, the Ecosystem Fund or the launch of the operations in Asia that we expect will boost adoption of the platform. Our continued focus as an organization, is on increasing network adoption and building use cases and applications that tackle financial inclusion and other problems.


What other companies are in process of moving towards RSK/RIF?

There are many companies moving to RSK/RIF but we can´t comment publicly the ones that are in process, unless they decide to do it public like Investoland and Money On Chain.


Do you think with more adoption we can have better exchanges?

We believe that with more adoption we will be more attractive to the ecosystem as a whole.


I’m curious how you see the token price being affected by adoption and the connection to RIF. RBTC is basically a pegged bitcoin token, whereas RIF (token) is a method of investment exposure? (i.e. is it the rif token that will be affected by the adoption/success of RSK?)

The RIF token is a utility token. Hence, it is not viewed as an investment opportunity. While the RSK Live Mainnet requires, -and will always do-, smart contract execution to be paid in Smart Bitcoins (RBTC) maintaining full incentive alignment with the Bitcoin Ecosystem, RIF OS Protocols aim to create and off-chain layer of infrastructure that initially is built on top of the RSK Ecosystem but will be integrated in the future with other smart contract enabled platforms like Ethereum & EOS. In order to do so, is important to have a token that is neutral to any of those networks and for which price is defined in connection with the supply and demand of infrastructure services regardless of the particular price of the native cryptocurrency of the network (RBTC, ETH, EOS, etc). From a user perspective it doesn’t pose any additional friction as we expect that in the near future DEXs (Decentralized Exchanges) will provide instant conversion between the native currencies of the networks where RIF OS Protocols are integrated an RIF Token. The portability of the RIF token will create economies of scale and strengthen the antifragility of the Decentralized Ecosystem as a whole bringing the Internet of Value one step closer to realization. The main reason is that we envision RIF OS, in the long term, as a unified Marketplace for off-chain infrastructure services that can be consumed by every smart contract enabled crypto-economy (i.e. RSK, Ethereum, EOS). In that context, having a portable / neutral token is a benefit.


What does a miner get if they decide to merge mine RSK?

Miners earn 80% percentage of the transaction fees from every RSK block they mine. These incentives will become more and more attractive while the RSK platform drives adoption, and the number of transactions in the network increase. Since merge mining in RSK does not require any additional cost to the one required to mine Bitcoin, RSK provides an additional revenue stream for the Bitcoin miners using the same hardware and electricity. More information about RSK merge mining can be found here.

We are currently looking for other ways to incentivize all RSK key players -including mining pools- to better align incentives while the network is bootstrapped. We’ll keep the community posted on any update about this.


Does using Rootstock still require getting added to a whitelist? If so, when will it not be?

There may be a confusion in some people about the need of being whitelisted to use RSK. It’s worth pointing out that anyone can use RSK to deploy and run smart contracts, send and receive transactions, build dApps, etc. There is no limitation in terms of required permissions. What is whitelisted is the use of the 2-Way peg to convert BTC into RBTC -there’s no whitelist in place to get BTC back from RBTC-. We implemented this limitation while in Beta until we were sure that it was secure enough to open to the general public. We expect this limitation to be removed before the end of the year. It’s also worth mentioning that users can get RBTC through supported exchanges.


Any news about the IOV wallet as part of RIF libraries? Was this the one announced recently joint with Mellow?

Mellow wallet is under development but not yet available.


Is there a DEX where RSK tokens can be easily listed on? Recently it was discussed in the telegram group, wondering if you could share some more light into it?

No, there is not for the moment.


Should dApps set up their own nodes?

During the development process, public nodes can be used but is recommended for dApps in production environments, to run their own infrastructures.


What is RSK scalability plan based on?

In RSK research lab, we evaluate new proposals and work on scaling methods frequently. Still, the scaling long term strategy has not changed much since RSK was launched. The main priority is to reduce resources consumed by onchain transactions as much as possible. Why? Because all layer-2 solutions require emergency procedures where users must go on-chain for arbitration in case of disputes. In case of Payment Channel Networks, publishing the last states in a limited time-window is critical. If the onchain capacity is too low or if transaction costs are too high, then the poorer users, which are transacting lower amounts, will risk losing their locked deposits. This is because the cost of arbitration will be higher than the amounts locked. So we developed a generic and innovative framework to scale blockchains: shrinking-chain scaling. It’s based on the insight that the blockchains can be compressed, and also that the compression technique used can involve interactions with the users to rewrite past parts of the blockchain. This means that a block can be compressed after it has been mined. This is specially powerful for blockchains with VMs, when compressing transactions means providing proofs of executions that are expensive to generate.

Shrinking-chain scaling can delay this processing and compression can be market based, the blockchain provides monetary incentives for compression. It can also be mandatory: blocks are compressed after some predefined time. A special case that is simple yet powerful is signature aggregation. Signatures take 70% of the transaction space in RSK. Therefore, we developed the LTCP protocol, that fits in the shrinking-chain framework. LTCP removes unnecessary signatures and also compresses transactions using user-defined presets. If RSK applies LTCP in a network upgrade, we could enable the RIF payments network to serve a 10M users today, 100M users in two years and a billion users in five years, using some reasonable projections on usage patterns for 2nd layer networks. This could be accomplished while still enabling standard PCs to run full nodes.

To advance towards this long term plan, we’ve proposed for the next network upgrade several new features: storage rent (see RSKIP113), parallel transaction processing (RSKIP04), and for the following one, LTCP and a new faster VM. Each one of them enables a decrease in the cost of payments. Since RSK is focused on financial inclusion, secure, fast and cheap payments is our priority.

Now what about scaling contract execution? RSK-Sidechains (or shards) and verifiable computation (and zero-knowledge proofs in particular) are two techniques for smart-contract executing scaling that are being evaluated by many blockchain development teams and I’m sure the best solution has not yet been created. If the onchain VM is expressive and fast enough, we will create the conditions for these solutions to be built on top of RSK. Other networks may implode because onchain scaling was not correctly addressed, or was addressed too late. With a good onchain layer, everything is possible. So we are now focusing in having the cheapest onchain infrastructure to enable financial inclusion. Plus, the Lumino 2nd layer payment solution for RIF payments and other projects, will take the lead bringing more 2nd layer scaling solutions.


What incentives does a project have to be developed on RSK?

The main reasons why developers choose RSK Smart Contract Network over other networks are security and scalability. RSK is the most secure smart contracts platform. RSK has less onchain activity than Ethereum (which is something you would expect for a blockchain that is one year and a half old). Therefore, the blockchain is much smaller than Ethereum. However, prior to the 1.0.0 release, the RSK blockchain could grow as fast as Ethereum for equal transaction volumes. With the advent of the Unitrie, that is part of the 1.0.0 release, the blockchain state is ten times smaller. For example, the last world-state consumes no more than 50 Mbytes. The current Ethereum state consumes about 130 GB. That’s 2600 times more. You can find more information about the Unitrie here.

From a programming capabilities perspective, the RSK Network is on par with Ethereum as both natively support Solidity smart contracts and the same APIs. These levels of compatibility make it seamless for developers to port their Dapps to the RSK Network and leverage on their acquired abilities/knowledge.

From a security perspective, the RSK Network is protected by the Bitcoin Network computing power and uses the same hashing mechanism as Bitcoin which is the safest decentralized network in the world. Although other security models like EOS’ DPoS or Ethereum’s PoW based on general purpose hardware might bring some benefits, none of those networks has battle-tested and custodied so much value as the Bitcoin Network. RSK is combining the best of Bitcoin and Ethereum under one roof.


What’s the status of the Blockchain Innovation and Development Studio in San Francisco? Also, what is the next big announcement RSK has for us?

The SF Innovation Studio was officially launched in early June and is currently focused on developing some much-needed tools for developers, including the developers website. In August, we did a demo of the Ganache integration at Trufflecon, and we will soon launch our own set of web3 libraries. In addition, we will soon launch an open-sourced wallet based on these libraries.

The studio also engages with developers and startups to work collaboratively on innovative tools and dApps that can bring value to the RSK ecosystem. We also work closely with the Ecosystem Fund, which is run from the same office as the Studio in SF. If you want to contact us, feel free to drop us a line at


Do you have a calendar of next RSK Meetups?

We will be adding soon a calendar of events at the website and let the community know when it goes live. We are planning to participate in the coming months in the Decentralized Storage Summit in Berlin, Blockchain Week San Francisco, Blockchain week in Japan, Defi and Dapps event in TelAviv, in Blockchain Summit Latam events in Colombia, Peru, Chile and Brazil, Blockchain Summit Uruguay and around those we are planning to held RSK´s meetups as well and also planning to host meetups in Singapore and Shangai.