How Bitcoin can help secure proof-of-stake blockchain protocols
Bitcoin’s (BTC) proof-of-work consensus mechanism could become a useful means of securing a variety of proof-of-stake (PoS) smart contract blockchain protocols thanks to the efforts of a Stanford University professor.
David Tse and his research team are driving the use of the prominent cryptocurrency to provide additional security to PoS networks. Tse’s proprietary Babylon blockchain aims to use Bitcoin to strengthen network security and encourage BTC holders to participate in what is apparently a new approach that allows staking of Bitcoin on proof-of-stake chains.
In an interview with Cointelegraph, Tse outlined how Babylon uses the Bitcoin scripting language to connect a PoS-based slashing mechanism to the Bitcoin network. This makes it possible to create smart contracts that are able to set specific spending conditions:
“Although the Bitcoin scripting language is limited in its ability to express complex spend conditions, we have used advanced cryptography to translate the slashing conditions of a PoS chain into a spendable transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain.”
Tse said Babylon’s BTC staking protocol allows BTC to be used to secure its network without having to modify or share the Bitcoin protocol. This also gives BTC holders the opportunity to earn rewards for contributing to the security of the PoS network by staking their BTC.
“Our method essentially transforms the cutting state of a Proof-of-Stake chain into a usable Bitcoin transaction. This way, the staked BTC does not need to be connected to the PoS chain at all.”
The Stanford professor also added that the simplicity of the approach also maximizes the security of blockchains by avoiding potential vulnerabilities associated with cross-chain bridges. As Cointelegraph previously explored, cross-chain hacks and exploits have been widespread, leading to over $2 billion being fled in the past year.
Bitcoin remains unsurpassed as the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization and continues to operate on the original specifications set by its pseudonymous creator Satoshi Nakamoto.
Nonetheless, the ecosystem has seen renewed interest and growth with the launch of Bitcoin Ordinals, which allow users to enter non-fungible tokens (NFTs) at individual satoshis, the smallest value of a unit of BTC.
Similarly, Professor Tse believes that protocols like Babylon expand the use of Bitcoin beyond being a simple store of value or medium of exchange by sharing Bitcoin’s robust security with other chains and applications:
“We aim to scale Bitcoin’s security in a manner similar to Ethereum’s scaling efforts, effectively sharing Bitcoin’s robust security with the rest of the decentralized world.”
New approaches to blockchain consensus continue to be developed by the broader cryptocurrency ecosystem. Proof-of-stake chains have benefited from and are rapidly adopting new approaches such as zero-knowledge proofs (zk-proofs). The likes of StarkWare co-founder Eli Ben-Sasson, who pioneered the technology, also believe zk-proofs could greatly benefit the proof-of-work Bitcoin blockchain.
Magazine: This is how Ethereum’s ZK rollups can become interoperable