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RSK & RIF 2020: A Year in Review

The year 2020 was nothing short of a roller-coaster ride for the world. From the onset of a ravaging pandemic to the unprecedented crash and recovery of the global stock, commodity, and crypto markets, 2020 made us witness it all. Amidst all the uncertainty and challenges, RSK continued to reach new heights. In fact, we believe 2020 was an exceptionally positive year for the company. 

Our high-performance smart contract platform witnessed a flurry of developments on its ecosystem ranging from increased interoperability, bolstered security, the implementation of innovative coronavirus-focused and enterprise solutions, upgrades to the RIF ecosystem and decentralized finance (DeFi), Hackatons and many other significant achievements. 

In this blog post, we take a retrospective look into RSK’s 2020 highlights. Even though much has been achieved all along last year, there is a long and exciting road ahead for us.

Increasing Interoperability with Other Blockchains

Interoperability with Ethereum and ERC20 Tokens

Right at the beginning of the year, RSK announced the launch of an interoperability bridge to connect Bitcoin with Ethereum. 

In February 2020, IOV Labs unveiled the successful launch of its RSK token bridge between its Bitcoin-based smart contracts and the Ethereum network. A milestone achievement for the RSK blockchain, the interoperability protocol allows users to seamlessly exchange RSK and Ethereum ERC20 tokens between networks.

At the time, Adrian Eidelman, RSK Strategist at IOV Labs noted:

“Interoperability has been a cornerstone of the RSK vision from the start. We believe being able to offer Bitcoin’s benefits to Ethereum users and to connect these respective developer communities is a crucial step for the blockchain ecosystem as a whole. It’s our mission to provide the tools needed for individuals to transform existing closed systems into decentralized and interconnected open networks, not only for DeFi but for a more decentralized and fair internet in general.”

Interoperability with DAI

As a result of our constant efforts towards interoperability, in October 2020, the RSK Infrastructure Framework (RIF) development team made another impactful move by introducing support for the decentralized stablecoin DAI on the popular Bitcoin-powered smart contract platform.

With a vision to boost DeFi on Bitcoin, RIF integrated support for DAI, enabling decentralized applications (dApps) developers to easily create apps on RSK that can bridge to the Ethereum network and leverage the latter’s network effects and liquidity. At the same time, the apps would benefit from RSK’s immense scalability and low cost smart contract platform.

Having DAI integrated into its ecosystem, RSK Blockchain platform users can now access DAI for all Bitcoin-backed DeFi products including the RIF token and its several protocols. The integration also allows users to send microtransactions and freely interact with smart contracts to enjoy hassle-free staking and lending.

At the time, Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar, Founder and CEO, IOV Labs commented:

“The DAI integration is another key step towards Bitcoin DeFi’s adoption. We are confident the growth of the Bitcoin ecosystem and its DeFi opportunities has only just begun, with much more to come.”

Strengthening Its Security

The year 2020 saw RSK bolster its security mechanism reaching an all-time-high hashing power, making it the most secure smart contract platform in the world. 

Similarly, towards the end of the year, RSK announced that its famous 2-way peg protocol (Powpeg) had transformed from its birth in 2018 as a federation to a decentralized element within the RSK ecosystem. 

The new RSK Powpeg entails a swathe of innovative and robust features, including protection of private keys stored in special purpose PowHSMs based on tamper-proof secure elements. Powpeg’s security is established through a layered architectural design called the defense-in-depth.

The new Powpeg gives developers an opportunity to build their dApps on a money vault. With the RSK Blockchain at their disposal and the benefit of two years of uninterrupted 2-way peg security, we believe this is without a doubt the best alternative in the industry for Bitcoin holders who seek to dabble in the rapidly growing DeFi landscape.

Tackling the Coronavirus Pandemic

Due to the pandemic, we felt the responsibility to take action and alleviate the suffering of many people. In May 2020, an official announcement by RSK stated that it was powering the GiveTrack donation tracking system by providing financial aid to the ones adversely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

BitGive launched the BitGive COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund with an initial fundraising goal of $20,000 dedicated to providing personal safety equipment for healthcare and medical professionals and to provide monetary assistance to the ones unfortunate enough to lose their jobs and source of income due to the battered condition of the global economy. 

RSK played its part in tackling the COVID-19 menace by powering the GiveTrack donation tracking platform that ensures donors complete transparency and also gives them the option to make the donations in either fiat or cryptocurrencies. In addition, GiveTrack tracks how funds are spent and provides donors with direct evidence-based reporting while using the RSK smart contracts architecture. 

Commenting on the development, Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar, Founder and CEO of IOV Labs, noted:

“BitGive harnesses the distributed power of blockchain to connect donors with impactful causes and move funds globally with maximum transparency, security, and efficiency. We’re honored to contribute to their COVID-19 Relief Fund and support the efforts of these wonderful organizations.”

Turning the Pandemic into an Opportunity

Stemming out of a sense of giving back to society, the idea of the Post COVID Hack (PCH) came into prominence leveraging blockchain technology for social impact. We called upon developers to utilize their lockdown time in a productive manner and the community responded strongly with thousands of participants and several use cases (more than 1,200 participants and over 5,000 developers were involved with the event).

Essentially, the hackathon had two broad themes: the socio-economic inclusion track and the open track. This way, the hackathon was not only able to help the underprivileged via the open nature of DeFi but also provided an open field to all developers who were able to design solutions to address the pandemic’s collateral damage.

The Enterprise Adoption of RSK

Joining the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger

Midway through the year, in June, IOV Labs announced they had officially joined the Linux Foundation and Hyperledger in a tremendous achievement for open-source blockchain technologies. Joining the rapidly budding Hyperledger community made it possible for IOV Labs to leverage the Hyperledger Besu technology in addition to its own RIF-based technologies to create government and enterprise-geared projects. 

At the time, IOV Labs CEO Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar commented:

“We are thrilled to become part of the Linux Foundation, one of the leading organizations in the promotion of open source software and ecosystems. All of the software used within the RSK network and developed by IOV Labs is open source and our ethos closely aligns with that of Linux. Our membership in the Linux Foundation and Hyperledger will accelerate adoption of open blockchain standards that foster financial freedom, transparency and trust.”

Gasnor Kickstarts RSK-Powered Blockchain Pilot

In March 2020, IOV Labs announced the successful launch of Gasnet, a DLT-based network geared towards Argentina’s natural gas distribution ecosystem. Notably, Gasnet utilizes RSK smart contracts and its RIF-powered second-layer solutions to help the network boost its efficiency, transparency and speed. Specifically, Gasnet was launched by IOV Labs in partnership with Argentinian software company Grupo Sabra. 

The seeds for the launch of Gasnet were sown in 2019 when IOV Labs partnered with Grupo Sabra to develop a permissioned blockchain for Gasnor. Just to give context on the scale of the issue at hand, Gasnor services more than two million people in Argentina.

Built on top of the RSK Enterprise suite, the Gasnet network enables the registration of all transactions that are processed within the certification of a new installation or re-installation of gas service between the future or current customer, the registered gasist and the gas distributor. This implementation allows end-to-end efficiency and transparency.

Central Bank Pilot in Argentina

Another major enterprise adoption came in the form of embracement from the nation’s central bank. During April 2020, within the framework of the 2019 Financial Innovation Roundtable,  the Central Bank of Argentina in partnership with the Blockchain Group (comprising IOV Labs, Sabra Group, Banco de la Provincia de Cordoba, BBVA, ICBC, Banco Santander, BYMA, Interbanking and Red Link) designed and executed a proof of concept to implement a decentralized system solution capable of processing direct account debit claims made by customers.

All participants would have seamless and uninterrupted access to the tech solution that utilizes the RSK smart contract technology to make daily financial transactions in a secure, transparent and standardized manner without any hindrance. 

Safeguarding Nuclear Power Stations

RSK delivered another spectacular use-case during 2020 when it came to light that Nuclearis, a manufacturer of precision mechanical components for the nuclear industry was tapping the Bitcoin-based smart contracts platform to verify the manufacturing blueprints of parts that are used to build nuclear power plants. Headquartered in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nuclearis announced that it was using RSK’s blockchain to safeguard its critical documents. 

Building Extrimian, a Blockchain Solution for Businesses and Governments

During September 2020, RSK and RIF allied with Grupo Sabra to create a Joint Venture named Extrimian which’s main goal is to provide seamless blockchain solutions for businesses and governments.  

Extrimian offers a platform and ecosystem called RSK Enterprise Cloud aimed for governments, entrepreneurs and enterprises. Through Extrimian, ecosystem participants will be able to create their own decentralized applications (dApps), easily set up and administrate the technological stack required to connect the enterprise to decentralized networks and even deploy consortium networks in minutes without hassle.

The Ever-Expanding RIF Ecosystem

Release of the Lumino Light Client

In May 2020, we dropped a bombshell announcement stating the launch of the Lumino Client for the RIF Lumino Payments Network (a third-layer Bitcoin scaling solution). In a nutshell, RIF Lumino Payments Network allows off-chain payment capabilities for all ERC-20 based tokens running on the RSK and RIF blockchain networks.

At the time of announcement, RIF Strategist Ale Narancio, noted:

“We are already working with several wallets to integrate the RIF Lumino Light client. Our goal is to make RIF Lumino compatible with the Lightning Network and other off-chain networks to enhance interoperability and user experience.”

Integration with Chainlink (LINK)

In August 2020 we announced the integration of Chainlink oracles into the RSK smart contracts platform as part of its RIF Gateways service. This integration enables developers to easily access Chainlink’s oracle infrastructure and connect their smart contract applications to resources outside the RSK platform.

The Launch of RIF Marketplace

Catering to the immense need for a full-fledged marketplace for all sorts of decentralized services and tools, we launched the RIF Marketplace in June 2020. Simply put, the RIF Marketplace is a one-stop-shop for a wide array of decentralized services, enabling providers and consumers to interact with each other in a secure and efficient manner.

The primary goal of the marketplace is to allow rapid and secure creation and development of decentralized sharing economies (DSE) powered by RSK and RIF. RIF’s Marketplace provides a unified and simplified interface, an extensive range of services to meet every requirement and decentralization. 

The RIF Storage Testnet Launch

Similar to the launch of the aforementioned RIF Marketplace, at the beginning of the year, we launched the RIF Storage testnet enabling developers to actually interact with a decentralized storage protocol. 

In the official announcement, the project stated that RIF Storage was already integrated with Swarm and that it had plans to integrate with IPFS and many others. In the long-run, the common vision of both Swarm and RIF is to support multiple digital currencies under the same network. 

The Release of RIF’s Self-Sovereign Identity Developer Library and Repos

It is no secret that we’ve been working extensively on developing truly decentralized self-sovereign identities (SSIDs). As a result of our long-term commitment to SSIDs, in December 2020 we officially released the self sovereign identity developer library and repos enabling developers on RIF’s ecosystem to seamlessly access RIF Identity’s developer library and repos to integrate RIF’s SSIDs into their projects.

Being inherently user-centric in nature, RIF Identity’s solution enables credential holders in the system to have complete control over their digital ID, thereby mitigating any possibility of data theft or privacy infringements. 

Making Blockchain Easily Accessible via RNS JS Library

RIF created the RNS JS library, a fully customizable library that lets developers connect directly with the RSK testnet or the RSK mainnet without any extra configuration. The main goal of the RNS JS library is to reduce the hurdles of entering the blockchain ecosystem. 

Enabling Purchase and Selling of RNS Domains

RNS is another highlight within the RIF ecosystem as it gives users the option to use human readable names for blockchain addresses. In September 2020, we announced that through RIF’s Marketplace, RNS users can now easily list their owned domains and set a price in RIF for each of those domains. Users on the marketplace can both buy and sell their preferred domains by paying or receiving the listed price, respectively. 

In a bid to maintain transparency and security, the RIF Marketplace functions as an escrow that ensures the domain is transferred to the buyer only when the corresponding payment is received.

The Utilities of the RIF Token

Expanding DeFi on Bitcoin via RIF’s Stablecoin

In May 2020 Money On Chain, the company behind one of the earliest bitcoin-collateralized DeFi protocols, announced the extension of its technology to the RIF ecosystem via the release of the RIF On Chain DeFi platform powered by RIF tokens and deployed on the RSK network. 

The launch of the protocol saw three main tokens interact with each other for different purposes:  RIF Dollar (RDOC), the RIF Pro (RPRO) and RIFX.

Sharing his enthusiasm on the development, IOV Labs CEO, Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar, noted:

“It’s thrilling to experience how quickly the DeFi ecosystem has been growing, launching more products and achieving broader adoption. We are excited that top DeFi technologies such as Money on Chain are choosing the RIF token and the RBTC blockchain to evolve and position their products in this high growth competitive environment.”

RIF Token Gets Listed on Binance

Binance recently announced the listing of the RSK Infrastructure Framework (RIF) token. The exchange announced the listing of two trading pairs: RIF/BTC, and RIF/USDT.  This is the result of our constant efforts to expand RIF’s token presence on exchanges.

Integrations

Integration with CipherTrace

In August 2020, crypto intelligence firm CipherTrace added monitoring and tracing support for the RSK blockchain and RIF. This integration saw RSK blockchain getting added to CipherTrace’s clientele of over 800 virtual assets being traded on behalf of banks, exchanges, ATMs and hedge funds, among others. Notably, by extending blockchain analytics support on RSK, CipherTrace also added support for all tokens (present or future) developed on the RSK blockchain.

IOV Labs and RedFOX Labs Sign MoU

In August 2020, we announced a joint venture agreement with Coinsilium to create a 50/50 JV Company in Singapore, IOV Asia. The aim of the agreement is to develop and commercialize at scale RSK’s vast array of products, services and technologies in the Asian markets.

RSK Blockchain Enters Open Finance

Introducing TEX 

Towards the end of the DeFi summer of 2020, RSK blockchain-based DeFi protocol Money on Chain announced the launch of TEX. TEX users’ orders are processed in batches according to a variable interval of some minutes. This is an innovative concept for a DEX which was inspired by the London Spot Fix.

Powering DeFi on Bitcoin via Liquality Integration and Sovryn

In a bid to let RBTC (Bitcoin on Rootstock) holders do more than just hold their coins in a wallet, Liquality (a multi-crypto wallet that allows users to send, swap and hold cryptocurrencies) introduced support for RSK blockchain. Among other benefits, the integration lets users leverage atomic swaps between Bitcoin and RSK in just a single click. 

Sovryn was another huge milestone at the end of 2020 offering non-custodial DeFi to Bitcoin holders as well as many other interesting features.

Enter RSKSwap

We introduced our own AMM dubbed RSKSwap, a fork of UniswapV2. However, RSKSwap has a unique property in that unlike the traditional AMMs where the responsibility of market creation sits with the users, RSKSwap automates the entire process. 

Being a fully decentralized, permissionless and secure AMM, RSKSwap enables users to quickly swap ERC-20 tokens with a minimal processing fee of 0.3% to incentivize the liquidity providers. In this manner, RSKSwap also functions as a decentralized autonomous organization.

Releasing the RSK3 Libraries

Perhaps one of the major milestones accomplished in 2020 was the successful public release of rsk3.js, a powerful suite of Javascript libraries built exclusively for developers keen on developing on the robust RSK blockchain. 

Developers having prior experience with Ethereum’s web3 script will have an easy time with rsk3.js as the two platforms share most function calls and are quite similar in syntax. In addition, RSK blockchain unveiled the RWallet, the official project wallet with support for all major cryptocurrencies such as RBTC, BTC and other RIF ecosystem cryptocurrencies.

Wrapping Up

RSK and RIF have conquered numerous milestones during 2020 and we are determined to accomplish much more in 2021. With a global community of curious developers, blockchain advocates, crypto enthusiasts and the ever-expanding global ecosystem, we are ready for a monumental 2021.