Motion Proposal to Integrate Bitcoin With the Internet Computer Is Approved

The plan will add smart contracts to Bitcoin through an application of Chain Key cryptography that will directly integrate the networks.

The Internet Computer community is actively shaping the blockchain’s feature and upgrade roadmap, with robust discussion taking place within the Developer Forum. The DFINITY Foundation is committing R&D resources to the Internet Computer ecosystem in the form of technical contributions. Technical upgrades are subject to community discussion, voting, and approval via motion proposals to the Network Nervous System (NNS).

A proposal (#20586) to initiate work for the “Direct Integration of the Internet Computer with the Bitcoin Network” was submitted to the NNS on September 15, 2021 at 15:00 UTC. Voting by neuron holders ended 48 hours later on September 17, with 96.55% approval logged at a voting power of 301,806,620.

The DFINITY Foundation and Internet Computer Association, and by extension their corresponding neuron followers, abstained from early voting until the broader community of ICP neuron holders had a chance to vote on the proposal.

At each stage of a proposal’s lifecycle, neuron holders will have the ability to direct the Foundation’s effort in making the Internet Computer more efficient, faster, and easier to use for developers. The community decides what upgrades are initiated and what code is adopted, allowing the Internet Computer to evolve in real time. The proposal for starting work on directly integrating the Bitcoin and Internet Computer networks was recently initiated by popular consensus.

There are many types of NNS proposals. This one is a Motion proposal that does not actively change the code of the Internet Computer, but it does provide an on-chain mechanism for the community to vote on the direction. This particular proposal, for example, was to approve the design and plan of the Bitcoin integration with the Internet Computer. It will take months and multiple NNS proposals to update the code.

Summary

Bitcoin is a payment network without support for smart contracts. The Internet Computer will provide smart contracts that can natively hold, send, and receive Bitcoin (without the need for bridges or private keys) through an application of Chain Key cryptography, which will directly integrate the networks.

The scope of this feature is the integration of the Internet Computer with the Bitcoin blockchain with the following goals: (1) Making powerful smart contract functionality available for Bitcoin transactions; (2) enabling Bitcoin transactions with fast finality and low transaction cost.

Smart contract support for Bitcoin would add tremendous value, leveraging the combined strength of the Bitcoin network as the world’s digital gold reserve and the Internet Computer as a platform for securely and efficiently executing smart contracts.

An example class of applications that will become possible with this integration are decentralized finance (DeFi) applications, which can currently be implemented only with wrapped bitcoin and additional trusted entities on blockchains such as Ethereum. Moreover, bitcoin could be used for paying for any kind of services on the Internet Computer, opening up an endless number of application scenarios.

You can find details, updates, and ask questions on the proposal’s Developer Forum thread.

Documentation

Draft plan for feature.

Timeline

  • Draft plan for feature posted on the forum for review: September 10, 2021, 15:00 UTC
  • NNS Motion Proposal (#20586) submission: September 15, 2021, 15:00 UTC
  • Community Conversation with Thomas Locher, DFINITY senior researcher and an author of the Bitcoin integration proposal, on Bitcoin Integration: September 16, 16:00 UTC
  • NNS Motion Proposal (#20586) expiration: September 17, 2021, 15:00 UTC
  • If this NNS proposal passes, then subsequent NNS proposals will follow the proposed design along with code updates. Implementation, testing, and deployment will take months: Q4 2021.

Next Steps

Now that the motion has passed, the research team behind the design will continue to update the community on the project process and timeline. The implementation will take months, so constant communication and updates will be important.

Though the motion has passed, there is substantial community feedback to take into account, such as concerns about replica process sandboxing as a security requirement for Bitcoin integration. As dev forum user lasmtjs wrote in the Developer Forum:

“I would like to see canister sandboxing per process before deploying these features.”

Because of similar feedback, the research team will soon put forth to the community a project on sandboxing (led by Helge Bahmann, senior researcher for operating system security) where the usual “open design” iterative process will occur.

Updates

9/15/2021 — cycle_dao issued a statement on the Direct Integration of Internet Computer With Bitcoin Network motion proposal summarizing some of the community discussion to date, noting that it will vote Yes on this proposal.

“This is the first time we’re able to tokenize Bitcoin without trusted custodians and without the over-collateralized stake-backed model that is not capital efficient. It will not only unlock this asset for the IC, but after the Ethereum integration, IC-wrapped BTC could then be used in Ethereum DeFi.”
— Norton Wang

09/16/21 — With approximately 35 hours remaining within the voting period, Yes votes logged voting power amounting to 10,151,625 and 3.25%, with 0.02% and a voting power of 69,181 voting No.

09/17/21 — With approximately 12 hours remaining within the voting period, Yes votes logged voting power amounting to 11,791,499 and 3.77%, with 0.03% and a voting power of 80,499 voting No.

09/17/21 — With less than 2 hours remaining within the voting period, Yes votes logged voting power amounting to 14,468,452 and 4.63%, with 3.45% and a voting power of 10,768,700 voting No.

09/17/21 — With less than an hour remaining within the voting period, Yes votes logged voting power amounting to 43,323,052 and 13.86%, with 3.45% and a voting power of 10,768,706 voting No.

09/17/21 — At the close of voting, Yes votes logged voting power amounting to 301,806,620 and 96.55%, with 3.45% and a voting power of 10,768,706 voting No.

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Motion Proposal to Integrate Bitcoin With the Internet Computer Is Approved was originally published in The Internet Computer Review on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Publication date: 
09/17/2021 - 18:53
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