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RSK is a layer two smart contract platform with its own blockchain. It operates as a Bitcoin sidechain to provide scalability, off-chain payments, lower latency, and reduced transaction costs.

Due to its reduced latency and faster transaction speeds, RSK attempts to expand Bitcoin’s uses by enabling decentralized applications and smart contracts. Learn more about RSK and what it tries to do for Bitcoin.

Key Takeaways

  • RSK is an open-source sidechain platform that hosts smart contracts.
  • Smart contracts execute the terms of agreements between two parties without an intermediary.
  • A side chain that runs smart contracts is essential in cryptocurrency due to the high costs and sluggishness of confirming Bitcoin transactions.

What Is RSK?

Rootstock Platform (RSK) is a second-layer virtual machine that addresses specific limitations of the Bitcoin blockchain. It was introduced in 2014 by developers to increase Bitcoin transaction times and provide smart contracts.

RSK is not a cryptocurrency or coin; it is a platform that runs alongside the Bitcoin blockchain. When a bitcoin (BTC) is transferred to RSK, that BTC becomes an RBTC—a smart contract-enabled bitcoin. The RBTC can be transferred back to the Bitcoin blockchain at any time for standard RSK and Bitcoin transaction fees.

Understanding RSK (RBTC)

RSK seeks to overcome long transaction confirmation times and network congestion by placing smart contracts on a sidechain. A smart contract is a script or program embedded in a blockchain that executes the terms of an agreement between two parties. This automated process reduces the need for trust in an agreement.

The blocks on Bitcoin’s blockchain are limited to one megabyte—placing a smart contract into a block reduces the block’s capacity to store transaction information and slows down the network much more than it already is. Without significant changes, the Bitcoin blockchain cannot accept additions or extra features—aspects that make a blockchain “scalable.”

A sidechain like RSK increases the scalability of the primary blockchain by allowing other tasks to be completed on a secondary blockchain and then be recognized by the primary blockchain. For example, Bitcoin’s blockchain takes around 10 minutes to verify one transaction due to the processing power and time needed to open a new block. A side chain like RSK conducts additional tasks to decrease transaction times because it allows the primary chain to focus on mining and validating.

Scalability is essential as blockchain and cryptocurrency use cases grow. Blockchains that cannot adapt or keep up with change are more likely to become obsolete.

Block confirmation in RSK takes about 34 seconds, much less than the time required for the Bitcoin blockchain. This yields much faster times for users exchanging and transferring cryptocurrency, with reduced costs. In addition to cutting down the time between initiating a transfer and its validation, the substantial price swings that can happen during that 10 minutes—called slippage—are reduced because transaction times are decreased.

You’ve experienced slippage if you’ve ever paid for something using bitcoin and had to wait for the transaction to be approved—only to find out Bitcoin’s price had dropped while you were waiting, and you suddenly didn’t have enough in your wallet to pay for the item.

How Is RSK Different From Bitcoin?

Unlike Bitcoin, RSK is not a cryptocurrency or designed to be a payment method—it is a layer that works in the background to validate transactions much faster via merged mining. Its chain validates blocks and sends them to Bitcoin’s chain.

RSK also allows decentralized finance application developers to create their DeFi protocols, NFTs, or other digital assets using the Bitcoin blockchain. This will enable Bitcoin to become a cryptocurrency ecosystem similar to Ethereum.

Layers allow more applications to use or assist a blockchain. Layers one and two are the most popularly referenced layers, but there can be four or more—depending on who you talk to.

Cryptocurrency transaction fees are paid to miners for using their resources to verify transactions and open new blocks. Fees have risen sharply since Bitcoin and Ethereum were first introduced, so RSK’s innovative approach works to lower these fees. Ethereum, in particular, has experienced large “gas fee” increases—”gas” is the term used by the Ethereum community for transaction fees and was adopted by RSK. RSK fees are much lower than Bitcoin or Ethereum, averaging around $.036.

Another prominent aspect of RSK is its focus on security. For example, it uses monetary bounties to help appeal to developers, hackers, and security professionals to help identify vulnerabilities so the system can improve overall security for stakeholders.

What Is the RSK Network?

RSK is a second-layer blockchain that facilitates faster cryptocurrency transactions and scalability.

What Is RBTC Used For?

RBTC, or the RSK Bitcoin (RBTC), is the RSK token used to pay transaction fees for smart contracts on the RSK blockchain.

Is RSK EVM Compatible?

The RSK Virtual Machine (RSKVM) is compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), but the RSKVM expands on the EVM by having additional features.

Investing in cryptocurrencies and other Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”) is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or other ICOs. Since each individual’s situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein.

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