Part 1 of the Bitcoin journey is full. Over the previous 10 years we’ve seen the Bitcoin community rebuff questions as as to if it might survive as an idea. At present, we see the bitcoin cryptocurrency gaining financial premium as outstanding institutional traders determine it as the last word inflation hedge. As we transition into 2021, observers are turning their consideration to what a monetary market constructed all over the world’s first cryptocurrency will find yourself trying like.

The speak of the city over the previous yr has been centered on the potential of decentralized finance (DeFi) for digital property and monetary sensible contracts, protocols and purposes constructed on Ethereum. A improvement with equally promising potential to shake up crypto markets are layer 2 applied sciences, the overlaying community of companies that broaden on a blockchain’s capabilities. 

This publish is a part of CoinDesk’s 2020 12 months in Overview – a set of op-eds, essays and interviews in regards to the yr in crypto and past. Edan Yago is a neuroscientist and entrepreneur who dropped all the pieces 9 years in the past to give attention to Bitcoin. He has most not too long ago contributed to bitcoin-native DeFi platform Sovryn. Beforehand, Yago based Cement DAO and Epiphyte to offer international remittance with bitcoin.

This yr has seen the rollout of the primary layer 2 tasks. In truth, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin himself has acknowledged that layer 2 is now the roadmap for Ethereum, and by extension different blockchains, too. Which means different scaling options, or methods to enhance a blockchain’s performance comparable to tokens – utility particular bits of code – might change into out of date. 

Will the success of layer 2 developments imply the demise of altcoins? 

2020: The excessive watermark for altcoins

At first there was solely Bitcoin, and it did one thing fairly outstanding – it created worth out of nowhere. The Bitcoin blockchain had been designed to create just one factor – bitcoin. As others jumped onto this alchemist bandwagon, a mess of different cash had been created that had been meant to perform in a particular utility like well being care, id or gaming. In actuality, virtually all of those tasks ended up going nowhere. 

There was one notable exception. Ethereum, and its provision of sensible contracts supplied actual performance even when the outcomes of its open system are doubtful. Its native foreign money, ether, is the second-most fashionable cryptocurrency after bitcoin and it’s quickly rising. Ethereum’s first “killer app” was the preliminary coin providing, a technique to create extra tokens. 

Nevertheless, with the rise of DeFi in 2020 Ethereum’s technological flaws have come into aid. 

Ethereum is infamous for being extremely gradual, costly to make use of and inefficient to the purpose the place it’s generally troublesome to even get a transaction in. Progress has been frustratingly gradual on Ethereum 2.0, the blockchain improve designed to deal with these points. Because of this, Ethereum builders in 2020 turned to layer 2. 

Come up, layer 2

This yr, the applied sciences round layer 2 have matured dramatically. On Ethereum, this has taken the type of DeFi tasks being constructed on rollups (off-chain aggregations of transactions inside an Ethereum sensible contract) consisting of each Optimistic rollups and zero-knowledge proofs or ZK-Rollups. When performing transactions on a rollup, the one confirmations made on Ethereum are in mixture, which means that for the overwhelming majority of transactions Ethereum’s native foreign money doesn’t should be concerned in any respect. Such a transfer considerably alters the significance of the underlying chain.

On Bitcoin, DeFi purposes are being rolled out on Lightning community and sidechains comparable to RSK. 2020 was additionally the yr that interchain options comparable to Polkadot, NEAR and Cosmos went reside, successfully as layer 2 options for Bitcoin and Ethereum linked through “blockchain bridges.” As an example, Sovryn, a decentralized bitcoin buying and selling and lending platform, takes benefit of Bitcoin layer 2 know-how whereas deploying a bridge to the Ethereum ecosystem. Preserving its native foreign money as bitcoin and giving primacy to stablecoins leads to an answer that’s quicker, cheaper, safer and simple to make use of. What this implies is that the primacy of the “chain” is diminishing quick.


Till now the success of a blockchain lay with the variety of individuals prepared to imagine in its mission. Shopping for into an preliminary coin providing or a token was just like betting on that individual chain succeeding towards rivals in a crowded market. 

Layer 2 options characterize a fragmentation of the chain-first strategy. As a result of there are such a lot of layer 2 strategies and techniques, and no clear approach for the ecosystem to coalesce round any considered one of them, the fragmentation we’ve seen this yr will worsen. Whereas layer 1 techniques like Bitcoin and Ethereum have built-in interoperable requirements, layer 2 doesn’t. The implication is that the community impact will now not be within the chain however within the property. Take a look at bitcoin and tether in 2020. Each have migrated huge worth throughout chains as a result of the tokens themselves are the focus, not the chains.

In face layer 1 of irrelevancy, these altcoins will by nature lose their justification to exist.

bitcoin, stablecoins and different tokens, as in ether. 

See additionally: Ethereum Launches Personal ‘Ether’ Coin, With Tens of millions Already Offered

The {dollars} and bitcoin on the Ethereum chain successfully present the power to switch worth with out the necessity for ETH. Sensible contracts can simply be ported to a special chain when transferring tokens over on a bridge (which is what occurs whether or not you’re transferring to RSK, Polkadot or a rollup). What we’ll start to see is the breakup of the Ethereum ecosystem in a world the place two notably larger currencies, {dollars} and bitcoin, are accepted and liquid types of worth switch. The primacy of ETH is unclear, it’s future unsure.

What’s coming

Trying ahead, it’s anticipated that charges on Ethereum will very quickly change into so excessive that new and present customers alike shall be pushed out. A few of them will abandon DeFi and self-sovereignty altogether and go to exchanges. Some will migrate to layer 2 within the type of rollups. And a few will make the most of the interoperability supplied by “bridges” through RSK, Polkadot or Cosmos. 

The fragmentation of the sensible contract house is predicted imminently. As an alternative of consolidating across the completely different base layer blockchains, a consolidation will happen round property. 

Tokens will flourish greater than ever, however the nature of those tokens will change. Relatively than making an attempt to seize a financial premia, tokens will characterize different sorts of asset courses comparable to fairness and debt within the type of crypto bonds and derivatives. 

See additionally: Edan Yago – Neglect Ethereum, DeFi Is Being Constructed on Bitcoin

What we’re going to understand in 2021 is that the decentralized financial system is successfully represented solely by bitcoin and stablecoins. That’s it – they’ve received that sport. Now that the sport is over the subsequent problem goes to be the decentralization of the monetary layer, and the creation of economic tokens will play an necessary half in that. For bitcoin, we’re on the finish of the start.

Not a proto-money, bitcoin is changing into the reserve foreign money of the way forward for finance. For altcoins we’re at the start of the top. Bitcoin is now not restricted to a single chain, and the speculation of chain particular currencies is being debunked.


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