On April 3, 2023, the Dfinity Foundation, a development team behind the Internet Computer (ICP) network, announced the launch of a native ICP token called “chain-key bitcoin” or “ckBTC.” The bitcoin derivative is backed 1:1 with the leading cryptocurrency asset. On Monday, Dfinity detailed that the technology “builds on the protocol-level integration with the Bitcoin network.”
Breaking Away from Custodians and Bridges: The Benefits of Chain-Key Bitcoin’s Smart Contract-Based System
On Twitter, the Dfinity Foundation announced the full release of chain-key bitcoin, also known as ckBTC. “Proposals 115468, 115470 & 115473 have been adopted with flying colors,” the team explained. “Many thanks to all the [ICP] people who voted manually to make this happen.” According to a blog post, ckBTC is backed 1:1 with bitcoin (BTC), and the system operates with “centralized custodians, no bridges, and no traditional cloud providers.”
The ICP-based bitcoin derivative is considered a “significant breakthrough in blockchain interoperability,” and the technology is integrated with Bitcoin at the protocol level, according to the Dfinity blog post. The ckBTC system uses vaults called canisters, which work with a smart contract instead of relying on a custodian or bridge. Essentially, to obtain ckBTC, a person needs to deposit BTC in exchange for the ICP token, and withdrawals work the same way when ckBTC is redeemed for real bitcoin.
“Any canister can submit Bitcoin transactions to the Bitcoin network through ICP nodes, thanks to the direct protocol-level integration,” Dfinity explains. The company insists that the technology has significant potential and can add to new use cases.
“[Native cross-chain technology] has the potential to enable new cross-chain capabilities and unleash a plethora of 100% on-chain services, such as multi-token transactions or multi-token wallet systems, which would greatly streamline the crypto user experience,” notes Dfinity’s blog post.
The announcement further details that several ICP-based decentralized applications (dapps), including Openchat, Iclighthouse, Plethora Game, and Distrikt App, already support ckBTC. While many blockchains have bitcoin derivative tokens, most rely on bridges or custodians. For example, the largest bitcoin derivative WBTC leverages the custodian Bitgo for minting and redemption purposes.
What potential do you see in the native cross-chain technology behind ckBTC, and how do you think it will impact the future of blockchain interoperability? Share your thoughts about this subject in the comments section below.
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Author: Jamie Redman