Meet RootStock (RSK) an interesting project that groups the creation of its own token ecosystem, smart contracts, instant payments network, digital identification system and distributed storage using the Bitcoin blockchain and integrated sidechains solutions.

Lto second level platform RootStock, Also known as RSKWas designed in order to allow the creation of smarts contracts or smart contracts within the blockchain of Bitcoin, but without changing anything in the way Bitcoin works.

Bitcoin was deliberately designed with high restrictions when executing smart contracts, due to the search for a solid and secure platform. However, due to the boom in block chains as Ethereum, which do allow the creation of evolved smart contracts, there are many requests to be able to execute advanced smart contracts in Bitcoin.

Despite the fact that implementing the necessary changes in Bitcoin for this to happen is something really complicated at the consensus level, projects like RSK offer solutions aimed at satisfying this need. In the next chapter of Bit2Me Academy we will explain in detail what it is, how it works and the features of RootStock.

What is RootStock (RSK)?

The RSK platform is a language based protocol Solidity it works like a side chain running in parallel to the Bitcoin blockchain. This protocol is based on a bidirectional communication that operates as a bridge to connect both chains. In this way, it allows the Bitcoin network to assist RSK in its execution. That is why the native currency or token of the RSK platform is the RSK smart bitcoin (RBTC), which has a 1: 1 ratio with the original currency of the Bitcoin network, bitcoin (BTC).

Thanks to the functionality of this platform, today it is possible to enjoy decentralized applications (DApps) and complex smart contracts within the Bitcoin network, in much the same way as they occur within Ethereum networks, EOS and others. But with all the security and robustness that the Bitcoin blockchain enjoys thanks to its great computing power.

Origin and creation of the RSK protocol

The RSK protocol is born from the evolution and merger of two major crypto platforms: QixCoin y Ethereum. QixCoin is a platform designed by the Argentine developer and researcher Sergio Demian Lerner. Lerner first met Bitcoin two years after its launch, and has been passionate about getting to know the Bitcoin network and its blockchain technology in depth ever since.

Thus, in 2011 Lerner, who is a highly recognized computer security researcher worldwide, began to develop his own research on Bitcoin and blockchain technology. Looking for bugs inside Bitcoin he gradually became an expert on the technology. Later in 2013, Lerner began developing new implementations of the technology in order to improve the privacy, scalability, and usability levels of the network. As well as improving its decentralization and efficiency in carrying out payments and transactions.

All this research and development process led Lerner to create the QixCoin platform. This is a blockchain that integrated its own token that allowed the development of a Turing Complete virtual machine. The project at an early stage was preparing to use Ethereum's Solidity language, still under development at the time. But despite this, QixCoin allowed the implementation of DApps and smart contracts within the Bitcoin blockchain. A huge technical advance over other platforms of its time.

Later, in 2015 the QixCoin project was redesigned, emerging the RSK protocol that we know today. With RSK, Bitcoin can enjoy many functionalities that were not possible or that were limited within its blockchain from the beginning. Currently the development of RSK is in the hands of IOV Labs, the company that resulted from the transformation RSK Labs and joined all its developments in the same suite.

How does RSK work?

RSK is a second level protocol which operates on a blockchain parallel to the Bitcoin blockchain. However, both networks use the protocol Proof of Work (PoW) to perform validations and generate new blocks within your blockchains. Likewise, both networks use the mining algorithm SHA-256. A feature that allows both blockchains to perform the combined mining or merged mining using the same mining equipment and the same computational computing power.

However, RSK provides special features or functionalities that are not possible in the Bitcoin network, for example: RSK Federation, made up of recognized and trusted companies that allow users to exchange their currencies in both blockchains when they need to use functions of the RSK platform. Or have bitcoins sent back to the parallel chain when they need to use them on the main network. On the other hand, RSK allows the implementation of the protocol DECOR +, with which fair and equitable control can be maintained among miners so that they carry out their work in a completely reliable and transparent manner.

Likewise, each time a user requires an action within the RSK network, he must transfer funds from the Bitcoin network, which will be blocked or frozen by the RSK Federation. Once this is done, those bitcoins are transformed into RSK's native token, RBTC in a 1: 1 ratio. These tokens will be used by users to pay miners for actions executed within the RSK platform, such as the execution or processing of smart contracts or the implementation of DApps. Likewise, if users do not use RBTC tokens, they can request the process of returning RBTCs to BTC, to use them in the main chain, that is, in Bitcoin.

Federation: RSK approved members

RSK has an internal operation of the permitted and federated type. In other words, all the members that support the RSK ecosystem are fully registered and identified. They are the well-known members of the Federation and their work is essential for the functioning of RSK.

The operation of the Federation is simple, its task is to block and unblock funds that enter and leave the RSK ecosystem. In exchange for their work, the members of the Federation are awarded 1% of the transaction fees generated in RSK, to cover the costs of hardware and maintenance.

Basically what happens when exchanging BTC for RBTC (RSK BTC), is that the Federation nodes receive some BTC and block their use within the network. Upon receiving these BTCs, the Federation authorizes the issuance of the same amount of RBTCs on the RSK network. When RBTC needs to be converted back to BTC, RBTC is blocked on the RSK network and the same amount of BTC is unlocked on the Bitcoin network. A swap structure that allows RSK participation securely.

But to achieve this functionality without using full Turing smart contracts (which are not supported in Bitcoin) RSK uses a two-way pin system that requires trust in a set of semi-trusted third parties (STTP). These semi-reliable and fully identified third parties are the Federation. Thus the Federation holds the keys that protect the funds blocked in the two-way system. No STTP alone can control blocked BTCs, but only most of them have the ability to release BTC funds. So basically, the members of the Federation what they have is a series of multi-signature addresses under their control, with which they lock and unlock funds as needed.

Of course, there is an automated process that allows you to modify the composition of this Federation. Each member of the Federation can accept or reject a change of composition. The process, which is rare, is driven by a smart contract, so it is open to the public. The protocol has a consensus enforced delay of one week until the change is activated. This allows users to transfer the Bitcoins back to the Bitcoin network in case they do not trust the new composition of the Federation. As of January 2019, the RSK Federation comprises 15 known notaries.

RVM: RSK Virtual Machine Turing Complete

Without this implementation it is highly unlikely that the RSK protocol will work correctly. The RSK virtual machine (RVM) allows the use of a Turing Complete platform through which smart contracts and DApps can be executed without major obstacles or inconveniences. So RVM is the heart of the RSK platform.

For its part, as the RSK virtual machine is compatible with the Ethereum platform virtual machine, the EVM, it is possible to import contracts from RSK to Ethereum, or vice versa. A process that does not demand great work capacity thanks to its compatibility, and which in turn offers great benefits. As the improvement in the processing capacity of transactions, allowing the interaction between smart contracts, DApps and users to be carried out much faster and more efficiently.

RIF OS, an integrated solution for Bitcoin

Currently, IOV Labs has started to develop RIF OS, a solution that integrates all the technologies it currently has in development and works on its RSK protocol. RIF OS seeks to transform itself thanks to this integration into a platform that encompasses a series of services that allow the development of DApps, DeFi, digital identity ecosystems, payment systems, communication, data storage and cross-chain or inter-chain bridges. You can read his whitepaper directly on this link.

With these features, IOV Labs aims to provide tools to overcome Bitcoin's current weaknesses, without having to unnecessarily alter its protocol. For example, RIF Directory is the RIF OS digital identity system. This system would be equivalent in functionalities to what Namecoin and Ethereum Name Services currently provide, even superior in some cases, according to its founders, because RIF Directory can be directly associated with other functionalities such as RIF Storage, to give secure access. to data stored on your network, something very similar to what it does SIA.

On the other hand, RIF OS also offers RIF Payments and Lumino Network. The first is a payment system that allows the use of stablecoins (RSK Dollar), RBTC, or some other token established within RSK. The second is a functionality that allows instant payments using any of the tokens supported by the network (either RIF Payments or given by cross-chain bridges). Lumino also allows to make integral payments in the Lightning Network in a bidirectional way, because this network is fully compatible.

Main characteristics of RSK

First, the RSK platform enables the creation and deployment of distributed programs and applications, along with complex smart contracts, in a secure and reliable manner.

Likewise, with all the functionalities that this protocol has, in RSK it is possible that the operations of transfers and payments are carried out much faster than in the Bitcoin network. For example, RSK implements the protocol GHOST to streamline the transaction creation and validation process. Allowing the chain to carry out between 10 to 20 transactions per second (TPS); and in turn, each transaction can be confirmed in a period of 20 to 30 seconds.

Likewise, RSK has all the characteristics of the Bitcoin network, such as a high level of security and reliability, decentralization, transparency and much more. Each implementation created in the RSK network is stored unalterable in the Bitcoin network. In other words, each action executed within RSK begins in the Bitcoin network, is executed in RSK and is registered in the Bitcoin blockchain.

As in Bitcoin, there are BIPs to propose improvements for the advancement and improvement of technology, RSK has the RSKIP. That they are technical documents prepared by the developers of the platform or the community in order to propose improvements that optimize the operation and operability of the network.

Another quality that RSK enjoys is that does not have a specific number of coins or tokens within its network. Rather, on the contrary, RBTC tokens are created by the transfer of bitcoins to the RSK network. So it is impossible to manipulate or speculate with its price, maintaining and ensuring a balance within the ecosystem of this platform.

Advantages and disadvantages of RSK


  • RSK allows the creation and implementation of smart contracts in a decentralized and autonomous way, which can be based on almost anything.
  • In RSK transaction commission fees are much cheaper than on the Bitcoin network. On average, a user can only pay between 20% or 25% for a transaction made in RSK, which would generally cost the same transaction on the Bitcoin network.
  • Thanks to the implementation of the GHOST protocol, the RSK network can extract blocks and validate transactions much faster than in the Bitcoin network. On average RSK can process between 10 and 20 TPS, with an average of confirmation between 20 and 30 seconds per transaction. However, if the Lumino protocol is implemented, the RSK network could process from 5.000 to 20.000 TPS.
  • As RSK maintains the qualities of the Bitcoin network, this platform also supports the same degree of pseudo anonymity that Bitcoin possesses. Although it should be noted that in RSK it is much more feasible to implement the coinjo or the ZK protocol to increase the privacy level of the network.


  • You could consider a disadvantage of the RSK network, that being a side chain, it does not operate as its own blockchain. Rather, its work and operations are based on another network, such as the Bitcoin blockchain. So RSK works more as a tool to empower Bitcoin; although both blockchains are independent of each other.

RSK platform use cases


The BitGive foundation has been one of the pioneers in the implementation of the Bitcoin and RSK blockchain technology for the making of charitable donations, through its cryptographic platform GiveTrack. That uses these technologies to monitor the donations received and made and the results of these in real time.

The GiveTrack platform offers reliability and responsibility for all those who wish to make humanitarian donations. Thanks to the characteristics of blockchain technology and Bitcoin and RSK networks, such as immutability, transparency and decentralization.


An investment financial marketplace that implements blockchain and RootStock technology to provide greater market decentralization. And facilitate access to all those small and medium investors who wish to access the different investment opportunities that exist in the market.


88i is an insurance platform that provides assistance and care services to users in a timely and relevant manner. Through this platform, different clients can be connected with insurance brokers in a fast, transparent and fair way.


It is no secret to anyone that the logistics and transportation industry is plagued with bureaucratic processes that generate many unnecessary delays in delivery times. In addition to disputes and even cases of theft or fraud. For this reason, the DexFreight platform, based on blockchain technology, implements smart contracts thanks to the RootStock platform. This in order to significantly improve the efficiency of the system and therefore the user experience.

The qualities provided by blockchain technology allow processes in the logistics and transportation area to undergo a 360º turn. A situation that makes it possible for all these processes to be carried out in a transparent, safe and reliable way.

Likewise, The RootStock platform has several use and application cases in different areas of everyday life. Such as the development of games, legal advisory and consultancy processes, banking processes, distribution of the food chain, and even the implementation by governments in favor of transparency and reliability of the different processes they execute.

Links of interest

Official Website

RootStock - RSK

White Paper

RootStock - RSK

Official Twitter

RootStock - RSK

Official GitHub

RootStock - RSK

Facebook Official

RootStock - RSK

Reddit thread

RootStock - RSK

Bitcointalk Forum

RootStock - RSK

Block Explorer

RootStock - RSK