Is ZK-Proof the Answer to Bitcoin’s Ordinal and BRC-20 Problems?



The bitcoin (BTC) network has faced a litmus test in recent weeks, as demands for ordinals and BRC-20 tokens are being minted on major blockchains.

The resulting increase in fees and transaction congestion has dismayed the wider bitcoin community, noting that some BRC-20 tokens, including meme tokens, have attracted billions of dollars in capital in recent weeks.

The Ethereum ecosystem has benefited from the development of scaling solutions that have brought about massive improvements in network capacity and processing power. Zero-knowledge proofs (zk-proofs) have made headlines, especially in the past few months, with many projects adopting the scaling technology.

Cointelegraph spoke exclusively to Eli Ben-Sasson, co-founder of StarkWare and pioneer of zk-STARKs (Zero-Knowledge Scalable Transparent Arguments of Knowledge), to find out whether the technology could be the answer to bitcoin’s latest challenge. Is.

Zk-proofs are cryptographic protocols that allow a party to prove a statement or data to be true without revealing any information. The technology assures privacy and security while increasing the capacity of blockchains, notably by reducing the computational load required to verify transactions and other data and information stored on the chain.

Related: zk-STARKs vs zk-SNARKs Explained

The renowned mathematician and cryptographer credits bitcoin for starting his journey of exploration around the promise of validity, cryptographic and zero-knowledge proofs to improve blockchain technology. Highlighting the scaling solution and the “deeply connected” nature of the blockchain, Ben-Sasson summarized zk-proof’s potential to benefit the bitcoin network:

“Proofs of Validity and STARKs allow you to use mathematical integrity in a very efficient way to expand the class of integrity that blockchains offer to invite anyone to participate and add more capacity to the network.” covers.”

Bitcoin’s blockchain will continue to function as an inner circle of integrity, while zk-proofs expand the origin of integrity and bring more capacity, which Ben-Sasson describes as a “positive flywheel” effect:

“The more efficiencies you bring, the more social functions you can use, whether it’s money, you can make micropayments, or you can add new things if smart contracts allow it. And Then there is more trust in the system and it adds more value.”

Ben-Sasson reiterated his belief that the bitcoin network could see greater integrity and efficiency than the mathematical benefits afforded by proofs of validity. He noted that the likes of bitcoin developers Greg Maxwell, Gavin Andresen and Mike Hearn were early proponents of stark transparent proofs of validity and privacy, which do not require trusted setup and remain quantum secure.

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The ability of bitcoin, which serves first and foremost as decentralized hard money, to allow for more general forms of computation and social functions remains a talking point for its community. For Ben-Sasson, the ability to incorporate zk-proof was clearly driven by market demand for additional functionality on top of bitcoin powered by the BRC-20 token:

“For this (BRC-20) to really be the level of integrity that bitcoin offers, there has to be a hard fork that allows these things to be verified and validated and bitcoin has integrity. And that’s a big decision. And there is a great deal of debate.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, ZeroSync Association is a newly formed startup developing a zk-proof powered tool that allows users to verify the state of the bitcoin network without downloading the blockchain or relying on a third party for verification. can trust.

ZeroSync’s Proof of Validity allows users to instantly verify the on-chain status of bitcoins, removing the need to download the more than 500GB of blockchain data currently required to sync a bitcoin node.

ZeroSync co-founder Robin Linus told Cointelegraph that its proof-of-chain state does not directly solve network congestion, but will remove the need for users to download inscriptions off the bitcoin blockchain.

However, zk-proof still promises to help relieve existing network congestion. Linus added that ZeroSync has also developed a bitcoin client-side verification protocol dubbed zkCoins, which allows processing up to 100 token transactions per second:

“It uses inscription, but has a much smaller on-chain footprint than BRC-20, and doesn’t bloat the UTXO set.”

Linus said that a SNARK (zero-knowledge concise non-interactive logic of knowledge) validator zk-rollup on the core layer of bitcoin, along with trusted bridges to sidechains, as well as a whole range of scaling solutions including the ability to peg BTC to zkCoins. Spectrum can be enabled. Increase Privacy and Increase Throughput:

“It is great to see that proof of validity is now gaining more traction in the bitcoin community. People have already started discussing a new opcode on the bitcoin-dev mailing list.”

Linus also pointed out that other bitcoin layer-2 scaling solutions such as Lightning Network, Fedimint and Chashu, a privacy-preserving custodian based on Chaumian eCash, have seen interest following network congestion driven by Ordinals and BRC-20 minting.

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