BCT special – Scaling Bitcoin with RSK Labs

Blockchain – space rocketing to bring the Internet of Value to all!

by Oana Dumitru

Last week, Blockchain Talks organized a special edition event that benefited of one of the most inspiring coincidence! It was organized in the same time as the famous Falcon Heavy launch and the importance of such a historic event seemed to match so well the topics touched by the speakers of the evening.

Excited Blockchain Talks community watching Falcon Heavy launch into space

Feeling all a bit star-struck and in awe of the magnificent spaceship and that amazing starman in his red car, we started the evening by first focusing on some more earthly innovation and ground-breaking ideas. Despite addressing life on this planet (for now) , all the initiatives presented have a distinctive impact to key elements of human society: education, creativity, exchange of value and identity.

Educating the masses and bypassing the middlemen

Richard Maaghul from Odem.io kicked off with an introduction of their initiative to connect educators and students without any middle-men who usually govern the system. By a simple show of hands, we found that Blockhaintalks’audience is mostly highly-educated, but education is not so easily accessible in other parts of the world. In less developed countries, where people also would like to further their knowledge and skills, getting access to qualitative education usually comes at a very expensive price that only further increases by adding more middle men into the equation. Promising top quality and professionally curated educational content from Ivy League and beyond, Odem is using smart contracts to guarantee trust, reduced cost and direct connection between students and educators.

Blockchain to protect and reward creativity

Mobilum, a creative content platform for the gaming industry solves major problems for creators. Wojciech Kaszycki the founder of the platform has a long-lasting experience in setting up businesses in the IT environment. As part of his experience in this domain, he came to understand the unfairness that content creators face when distributing their work. For example in a photographer’s case, if he or she would like to distribute their work to a market hub where users can download and pay for the photos, the market hub would get a commission of 30-50% of the price paid for the photo, 20-50% would go to the agencies that intermediate the transaction and only 5-20% ends up in the pocket of the actual creator. In a world where we are all creators as we all have a potent camera in the back of our phones, the potential to change this imbalanced relationship is huge.

Mobilum seems to have found a way to deal with these issues by putting all the property rights in smart contracts; the creator does not have to trust Mobilum as everything is coded in the contract allowing for transparency, trust and proof of usage for the creators and users. By using the Mobilum wallet and token, transactions are easily closed. We heard Mobilum is discussing with credit card companies and want to connect the technology to payment systems, so we will follow-up to hear more about it. For early bid access and bonus to their ICO, use AMS2018 code.

Bitcoin and how it could reach a higher impact on financial economics

Probably the most anticipated presentation of the evening, Gabriel Kurman’s talk on RSK and the boundless possibilities of the Internet of value was really a treat for the audience.

Rootstock, the first open-source smart contract platform power-driven by the Bitcoin network is where technology meets social impact. Taking us through an economist’s view on Bitcoin, Gabriel explained how until recently the Internet despite changing our lives, it only solved how information circulates in the network. Through Internet, we actually just tell our bank to credit from our account and debit into someone else’s, we do not actually transfer the value ourselves and even more the transfer can easily be copied. This is what Bitcoin changed, it become possible to exchange value through digital files that cannot be double spent.

Gabriel Kurman from RSK

Because of the opportunities Bitcoin opened up, Gabriel thinks we are living historical moments that will change economics and the way value is transferred globally. Bitcoin offers an alternative option, one in which people trust cryptography and mathematics more than humans in central banks.

However, still nowadays more than 50% of the world’s population does not have access to the financial system due to the expensive barriers that are in place. Through smart contracts, an automate financial system can be created that will eliminate most human intervention and will allow for cheaper access.

When envisioning their platform, the founders of RSK realized they had to choose to go for either the trusted Bitcoin or the programmability of smart contracts by Ethereum. They didn’t want to choose, so they created RSK - smart contracts powered by Bitcoin.

RSK is a Turing-complete RSK Virtual Machine (RVM) allowing smart-contracts – this means that it allows to code any computable rules or instructions within programs or in this case contracts.  Furthermore, RSK is allowing for speedy transactions with as low as 10seconds for first confirmations of transactions and going up to 400 transactions per second, subject to Bitcoin improvements. Also, any smart contract coded in Solidity, the platform used for Etherum smart contracts, can be run on RSK. Therefore, RSK is  creating a bridge between Etherum smart contracts and Bitcoin.

Instead of using a side chain –creating an alternative blockchain “pegged” to Bitcoin, so that value can be transferred, which can conceivably be automatically secured by Bitcoin miners; RSK decided to use a drivechain which allows a two-way peg for interacting with the sidechain, meaning that instead of creating an altcoin in an alternative network, the chain works with Bicoin’s protocol’s rules and strengthens the Bitcoin network.  Currently, RSK is waiting for the approval of the Bitcoin improvements proposals and whenever the drivechain is ready, they will implement it.

RSK is a technology layer for the most adventurous developers in the world, who want to bring technology and its’ benefits to the users who most desperately need it. And this is why they are involved in various other projects such as Bitcoineta – an educational project brining a mini-van with speakers and screens to the towns and villages so people can learn more about the technology or Blockchain for Humanity – a social positive impact accelerator to generate funds for start-ups with social projects.

The invisible man & the identity challenge

Identity is mainly a philosophic concept but one that has a huge impact for the 660 million vulnerable people, most of them refugees or displaced people due to natural disasters. Most of them do not have valid birth certificates and cannot prove their identity. The current identity management system is not designed to support these situations – it is paper based, not resilient and heavily centralized.

Tey El Rjula from Tykn, a refugee himself without a documented birth certificate as it was destroyed in the Gulf war in Kuwait, was determined to find solutions to this problem. With Tykn, he created the future of resilient identity, by leveraging Blockchain technology to build electronic identity, authentication and trust services tools for governments and NGOs, in full compliance with GDPR.

Tykn allows people to register and verify their legal identity through their app and then have own right to who users would like to authorize to access it. The app will be launched in Q3 2018 and Tykn has already confirmed pilots with the Red Cross to support efforts in St. Maarten and also in Malawi. This will allow them to test their app in a crisis area where disaster struck and the country is now in rebuilding phase, but also in an underdeveloped area.

Following this inspirational usecase, the evening continued with the excited community of Blockchaintalks participants and speakers watching together the Falcon Heavy launch –and we wish that all the above #blockchain4good projects would also sky-rocket to further success!

Curious to hear more about impactful Blockchain initiatives? 

Then come to our next meet-up  in Amsterdam and hear about Blockchain workspace, Decred, Farmatrust and more about Odem.

Richard Maaghul

Rich is a seasoned Silicon Valley entrepreneur with more than two decades of direct experience in emerging-and-disruptive
technologies. In addition to co-founding ODEM.IO partner Excelorators Inc., Rich has delivered strategic solutions to Chevron Corp. and other corporations. As CEO of ODEM.IO, he is committed to using blockchain technology to expand student access to
high-quality education. 

Wojtek Kaszycki

Passionate investor looking for new business challenges employing management best practice and revolutionary technical inventions.

Over 20 years of business experience Pioneer in the area of e-commerce and m-commerce solutions. (Between 1996 and 2001 he managed the first e-commerce agency in Poland) Founder of several successful companies (Gifts of Nature; List Polska; WKM; Bizmatica Polska; BarTEC, MirroCool).

Gabriel Kurman

Economist. MBA in Capital Markets. Also Executive Member of Latin America and Argentina Bitcoin NGOs. More than 10 years of experience in corporate finance, M&A, and private equity. Previously worked at Advent International and Monsanto. Gabriel will discuss RSK's recent Mainnet Beta Release (Bamboo) which is opening up the RSK protocol for developers to interact with. RSK is the first open-source smart contract platform with a 2-way peg to Bitcoin that also rewards the Bitcoin miners via merge-mining, allowing them to actively participate in the Smart Contract revolution. RSK goal is to add value and functionality to the Bitcoin ecosystem by enabling smart-contracts, near instant payments and higher-scalability.

Tey El Rjula

After experiencing the financial crash in Dubai in 2008, Tey moved to The Hague, where he became a Blockchain Senior Analyst for wikistrat.com, as well as a Bitcoin miner. Despite never having lived in Syria, Tey was forced to move into a refugee camp for two years due to his Syrian roots, after his work permit expired. This ultimately became his main motivation behind solving the "paper-based identity" problem; consequently Tey co-founded Tykn. Besides fulfilling his duties as CEO of Tykn, Tey is also still active as a public speaker and educator on digital currencies and Blockchain technology, and is a candidate for a MSc Digital Currencies at the University of Nicosia.