Generally, smart contracts are associated with Ethereum, the Blockchain that was created to support Turing-complete, or computationally universal, smart contracts.
In a blog post Monday, Chain explains that writing smart contracts for the Bitcoin network has always been possible, but the language used to do it, Bitcoin Script, is “low-level” and has limited functionality.
Chain acknowledge that some actors, like wallets, exchanges and payment platforms, have used the language successfully for various solutions, but claim that “Bitcoin script development is considered somewhat esoteric.”
According to Chain, Ivy is a “higher-level” language that compiles to Bitcoin Script making it easier for developers to write smart contracts for the Bitcoin network:
“Ivy helps you write custom, SegWit-compatible Bitcoin addresses that enforce arbitrary combinations of conditions supported by the Bitcoin protocol including signature checks, hash commitments and timelocks”
When asked about the significance and possibility of Ivy used for Bitcoin competing with Ethereum for smart contract usability, Bitcoin developer Jimmy Song expressed his doubt, telling Cointelegraph:
“Ivy makes SCRIPT easier to handle. It doesn't change Bitcoin fundamentally, just makes coding it easier. ETH is Turing complete, which BTC cannot have without some sort of soft fork at a minimum. I don't see the "smart contracting" ability of ETH as a "feature", but more as a vulnerability. The attack surface on the ETH smart contracting platform is much greater. The fundamentals haven't changed, this is more like a nice tool for developers.”
If developers do indeed use Ivy to write smart contracts for Bitcoin, the network has a long way to catch up with Ethereum’s current status as the go-to platform for writing smart contracts.
On the other hand, Matej Michalko, the CEO of Decent, maintains a more positive outlook:
“Ivy is an excellent example of the multifaceted development of blockchain products. Cross chain referencing is proliferating and it is on its way to dominate the ecosystem. Bitcoin can now be on par with Ethereum as a great smart contracts prototyping tool for a full range of Blockchain applications. Both platforms, however, remain fundamentally different in their architectures and market adoption. It remains to be seen what blockchain use cases and platforms are going to be adopted by masses. Scalability will be one of the decisive factors. 2018 is going to be a Blockchain year.”