One of the things that has proven more than challenging for Bitcoin, is its community's recalcitrance when it comes to updating or making any dramatic changes to the system. But this is something that looks to be changing, especially with the introduction of RSK.
RSK, itself, is one of the first general purpose smart contract platforms which is secured by the Bitcoin network, and it's been built as a sidechain to Bitcoin, and acts to reward the numerous Bitcoin miners via merge-mining. This allows these miners to serve as active participants in the RSK Smart Contract ecosystem.
A significant plus for this RSK blockchain is that they will instantly gain a monumental hashrate, due to all of the Bitcoin miners being able to mine and secure RSK chain as well, all without the need for additional hardware to do it. As a result, this means that miners can participate on the RSK Chain, providing them with extra revenue at no extra cost to them.
In A Statement Made On RSK's Official Website:
“RSK directly “plugs in” to achieve a perfect merged-mining and to ensure that cryptographic work, that will be discarded in Bitcoin mining, is reused in the first smart contract open-source platform secured by the Bitcoin network. RSK has an agreement with Bitcoin miners: we share with them 80% of the fees arising from transactions made within the smart contract network.”
As the RSK blockchain intends to host a wide number of clients and smart contracts: including financial industry players of all scales, educational institutions from schools to academic research institutes, to large importing companies, governmental bodies all the way to interested individuals.
This means that RSK has gone from a silent outsider, to going on a major offensive operation against Ethereum's whole business model.
As a result, there are a myriad of new and existing opportunities within the market, boasting unlimited potential, down to the fact that Ethereum has existed in the space as the sole competitor, with no real rivals in its vision to challenge them for ground. A further advantage that RSK has is that it has access to a massive hashrate, reputable and secure network, a safer environment for developers, and a much higher throughput and completely solved scalability.
As previously mentioned, the underlying transaction speed on the RSK chain will stand at 400 transactions per second (simple payment transactions). However, RSK is not satisfied with resting on the laurels of this figure, and intends to reach 2,000 transactions per second, made possible by using its Lumino technology, which is a second layer network, which will be embedded on RSK's following its release.
Smart contracts are coded in the language as is commonly used by Ethereum's smart contracts, and is helped by RSK's Virtual Machine is fully compatible with ETH's VM. Operating as a side-chain, RSK allows for all Ethereum features without interfering with the main chain.
This is because the sidechain doesn't require the same rules as the main chain, it has faster blocks, and, as a result, can conduct far more transactions, all of which condense back to the main chain, while Bitcoin sidechains will be the new altcoins. Currently, the testnet is live and in operation, with the mainnet to be launched later on.
No New Coins
Unlike other platforms, RSK has announced that it will not have an ICO, nor will it have its own digital token. Instead, the will create and implement a two way peg between both Bitcoin blockchain and RSK's, in order to ensure a fixed conversion between BTC and SBTC, or Smart Bitcoins (1 SBTC = 1 BTC).
Rootstock, as it stands, operates as a sidechain, this means that it has its own blockchain (its own block time and comparable size), however, what separates it from the other altcoin's blockchain is that it doesn't have its own native token. So, in order . to use Rootstock, users won't need to buy a new token, instead, they will be able to use their Bitcoin directly on RootStock's platform.
So RSK is as capable of doing everything as Ethereum, but instead of using ETH for its gas, it uses BTC.
Sidechains are a game changing technology, and will probably eliminate a number of other cryptocurrencies. The only issue is that needs to be fixed at the moment in order for this to take place, is a trustless way to conduct a two way peg, as currently, Rootstock relies heavily on a federated peg made up of 25 companies in order to ensure this peg.
Through this system, RSK will be able to import ETH Dapps directly, along with RSK operating with a second layer, so they have very few risks of mainnet forks thanks to its coding. You can still use Bitcoin as your storage of value with all the security of the Bitcoin blockchain.
Many enthusiasts do like to point out, Bitcoin is evolving into a decentralized, immutable, sovereign, high value asset that many other aspects (which includes smart contracts) will be “anchored to” in the future.