Several of the most influential Bitcoin companies have expressed their support to promote Smart Contracts over the Bitcoin network by participating in the RSK Federation. They include Bitcointoyou, Bitex, Bitfinex, bitFlyer, Bitgo, Bitoasis, Bitpay, Bitso, Bits of Gold, Bitstamp, Blockchain, Blockchain Intelligence Group, Blocktrail, BTCC, BitKan, JAXX, SurBTC, CoinBR, Huobi, OKCoin, Paycase, Tether, Unocoin, and Xapo.

The RSK federation will provide additional services such as generating external security checkpoints and active “oracling” services to gather information from external sources. Federation members will also provide other services to RSK users such as instant peg liquidity and multisig services. All are in a bid to avoid another Dao-like episode.  

RSK’s initial Testnet (Lotus) which launched in May 2016 is currently being tested by selected partners. The company says it expects to release its new version of the Testnet (Turmeric) by the end of September 2016 and launch its production network (Ginger) during Q1 2017.

Cointelegraph spoke to Gabriel Kurman, RSK's co-founder, about how Rootstock will better bring Ethereum-like capabilities to the Bitcoin network, strengthen the network and benefit Bitcoin miners.

“BTC miners did not have any possibility of participating in the smart contract ecosystem until now,” he says via Skype. “RSK allows them to do merge-mining, run both Blockchains at the same time and gain fees from Bitcoin mining, as well as RSK mining (running RSK contracts).”

Cointelegraph: Do you agree with the view that Rootstock can and will implement all Ethereum functionalities faster and more securely? Why?

Gabriel Kurman: RSK is fully compatible with Solidity and Web3 in order to allow all developers and companies from the ETH/ETC community to have the option to run their solutions with the security of the Bitcoin network behind it.

Having said that, it is worth mentioning that RSK’s VM has several security improvements and performance optimizations designed by our Chief Scientist, Sergio Lerner. We have already done some improvements on our Java VM implementation which improved overall performance significantly.

On top of that, some of the most relevant improvements to be released in the near future include Contract runtime versioning, Contract Hibernation, Java-based toolchain and compiler for Smart contracts and for next year we expect to offer higher privacy via Zero-knowledge proofs out of the box.

CT: What is Rootstock's business model? How does it intend to turn a profit?

GK: We at RSK have decided not to create a new tradable coin, and instead used Bitcoin as fuel to run our contracts. As a consequence, all value created for the use cases in our platform will strengthen the Bitcoin network.

On top of this, we allow Bitcoin miners to participate in the smart contract revolution by merge-mining RSK with the same hardware and energy consumption they already use to mine Bitcoin. In this way, BTC/RSK miners will receive 80% of the fuel generated on the RSK Blockchain and RSK labs will receive the remaining part to continue developing the platform, reward full nodes and repay investors.

CT: What is the latest on Rootstock? Is it out yet? And if so, when?

GK: The most exciting news this week is that we have gathered a unique group of the most important Bitcoin exchanges and wallets of the world to be part of the RSK Federation. The RSK Federation will provide key additional services to RSK users and most importantly will be a crucial component of the platform’s hybrid security model which will be key in developing large scale corporate and governmental solutions.

At the same time we are currently implementing the RSK merge-mining plugin on the pool software of the most important Bitcoin miners and pools around the globe. We expect RSK to be the most secure Smart Contract platform in the world pretty soon.

CT: Rootstock has been hailed as an Ethereum killer for a year now. What is special about it? Do we even need it?

GK: I’d say the most important difference is that RSK is based on the most secure and well-tested Blockchain network in the world, the Bitcoin Blockchain.

At the same time, at RSK Labs we are completely focused and committed to support the development of practical use cases which can transform society in a positive way. The company’s purpose transpires into the development of technical improvements and additional security layers necessary to facilitate large-scale financial inclusion solutions, IoT interfaces, pure democracies and government transparency.

On top of this, we take consensus processes and economic incentives very seriously as we understand them as a key part of the Blockchain technology. For this reason, we are planning to open the governance of the platform in the future to make sure that all key stakeholders of the Bitcoin/RSK ecosystem have their voice in future enhancements of the platform.

Finally, another key difference is that we will NEVER promote a hard fork to revert a transaction among peers as we believe that a basic pillar of the Blockchain technology is the trust built around the social contract which ensures the immutability of the ledger.

That combination of a clear vision, a well-paced balance between innovation and robustness and security makes RSK a unique value proposition.

CT: How does one invest in Rootstock?

GK: So far, the best way to benefit as an investor from what we are doing at RSK is to buy Bitcoin, given the fact that all Smart Contracts running on RSK will pay execution fuel with Bitcoin.

We are very thankful to the whole ecosystem and its permanent interest in investing in RSK Labs. Once the technical development of the platform is mature enough, we will look for ways to allow all members of the ecosystem to participate in RSK Labs. We currently have more than 20 strategic partners testing their solutions on RSK. After our next release in late September we expect to increase this number to 100 real use cases being tested.

Our goal is to include several new security and performance features, run a full security audit of the platform and launch our commercial version (Ginger) in Q1 2017.

Regarding the use cases, all interested parties willing to test our platform before the public release should write us to: