- Has scaling got you down?
- Are your BTC hodlings threatened by Ethereum, Z-Cash, Ripple, and Other Ethereum?
- Did you want to support every possible transaction type, but can’t because core’s design is set in stone for the rest of its lifetime?
- Does ‘using a separate currency at each individual store’ sound like a dumb idea to you, so dumb that it contradicts the very purpose of money?
If you think that blocks are too small, or too big, or that they should contain more message-types, or fewer message-types, or if you think the CoreDevs should be fired, or if you don’t want anyone firing your favorite Devs, then sidechains might be for you!
What are sidechains?
Sidechains are alternate chains of Bitcoin (“Alt-chains”) which do not have their own token. To use them, individuals deposit BTC into the sidechain (at a 1:1 rate) which they later redeem (also at a 1:1 rate). Therefore, the total number of BTC currency units remains fixed at 21 million, no matter how many chains are used.
Benefits of Sidechains
- Permissionless Innovation: Anyone can develop / run their own code, without facing the (near-impossible) task of also bootstrapping a new unit of money.
- Anti-Scam: SCs filter out get-rich-quick schemes (the ‘get rich’ part is now impossible). Therefore, good projects can stand out and receive our attention.
- Eliminates Competition: Bitcoin will always have the best code, because it can copy any code that exists.
- Freedom to Choose: Satoshi’s consensus protocol requires everyone to agree on everything, down to the very last byte. Sidechains allow users to choose which benefits they would like to pay for.
- Faster Progress: SCs let us test new features. The tests are safe – if these features fail, they won’t take down the main network. However, the tests are also informative – real BTC is on the line.
Peter Todd / Luke-Jr Told Me That Sidechains Are Insecure
Drivechain’s security model is commonly misunderstood. Here it is, short and simple:
- When BTC are deposited (from mainchain to sidechain), they are placed into a special account. Miners “own” this account, and can send these funds wherever they like.
- That might sound like a problem, but it isn’t because the box can only be opened infrequently (two or three times a year), and a super-majority of miners must leave a note on the box in advance. This note states exactly where the miners intend to transfer the money, and the sidechain software creates/validates the “correct” note automatically.
- So, to steal, miners need to write an invalid note on the box, and leave it there for multiple months. Then, if no one interferes, the sidechain is robbed.
The lengthy multi-month delay might sound prohibitively inconvenient, but it isn’t because of instant atomic cross-chain swaps. Investment-banker-types will buy your side-BTC with their main-BTC, at competitive rates. So, in practice, the delay can be avoided by paying a small fee.
The model is sound because we assume that miners are uninterested in “stealing”. We justify this assumption by the fact that, in our pre-sidechain world, miners can already “steal”, through a process of  depositing BTC to an exchange,  selling that BTC for fiat (which they withdraw), and  rewriting the last 3 or 4 days of chain history, to un-confirm the deposit in step . It appears that miners are unwilling to betray network-integrity to such an obvious and serious degree. This is assumed to be comparable to the sidechain-case (where miners must allow an easily-corrected error to persist for several months).
Demo Video and Screenshots
View our Demo Video.
Two instances of Bitcoin, at time=0:
Mine some mainchain Bitcoin, open the sidechain’s “transfer” tab:
Make a deposit (from mainchain to sidechain, these happen instantly):
Make a withdrawal (from sidechain to mainchain, these are very slow):
Time passes. Eventually the withdrawal is confirmed:
The BTC has completed its round trip journey!
Check out the sidebar for more info.
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