Is Bitcoin Really a Pet Rock? The Role of Layer 2’s in Reviving Satoshi’s Vision 

Kelly Reddington

May 28, 2024

Kelly Reddington is an Analyst at WisdomTree, where his expertise in digital assets and marketing influences the marketing of WisdomTree Prime and other key initiatives. With an educational background in cybersecurity and a shift to business and marketing at the University of Buffalo, he brings a unique perspective to the world of digital assets. His experience in marketing, combined with a passion for blockchain and crypto, positions him at the forefront of innovative strategies in understanding and marketing digital assets.

In 2008, when Satoshi Nakamoto published the Bitcoin whitepaper, introducing Bitcoin as a “peer-to-peer electronic cash system,” the primary vision was to enable direct transactions between parties, free from financial intermediaries However, as Bitcoin has evolved and the crypto market has matured, Bitcoin has faced challenges concerning scalability and flexibility due to its limited block size and transaction throughput, limiting its use in everyday transactions This has sparked significant innovation within the digital assets ecosystem, beginning with the Lightning Network, and now we are beginning to see innovations particularly through other Layer 2 (L2) solutions. These technologies promise not only to enhance Bitcoin’s scalability but also its expressiveness, paving the way for a more versatile platform. Imagine Bitcoin, but with Ethereum’s capabilities. That’s the promising future we’re headed towards. 

Bitcoin Layer 2’s 
Layer 2 solutions like ZK (Zero-Knowledge) rollups and BitVM, a virtual machine designed for Bitcoin, are at the forefront of these innovations to make Bitcoin suitable for everyday transactions. Layer 2’s process transactions off the main chain, improving transaction throughput and reducing costs, while BitVM, which is still in its early stages and largely experimental, offers a platform for executing more complex scripts that are not native to the Bitcoin blockchain. These advancements are paving the way for a Bitcoin that can be used for everyday transactions, addressing the inherent limitations of Bitcoin’s non-Turing complete design. Bitcoin was designed to be non-Turing complete to reduce the risk of vulnerabilities and exploits. 

From Non-Turing Complete to Expressive Smart Contracts 
Bitcoin was intentionally designed to be non-Turing complete to enhance its security and simplicity. A Turing-complete system can perform any computation given enough time and resources, making it susceptible to unintended and potentially malicious operations such as fraudulent transactions. By limiting Bitcoin’s scripting language to be non-Turing complete, the Bitcoin network reduces the risk of vulnerabilities such as infinite loops and other complex attacks. However, the launch of Ethereum by Vitalik Buterin and others demonstrated the potential of a Turing-complete general purpose blockchain. Ethereum’s ability to act as a general-purpose ledger has led to the creation of vibrant ecosystems around decentralized applications (dApps) and smart contracts, showcasing the benefits of a more expressive system. 

Further Innovations: Sovereign Rollups and Ordinals 
Innovations such as sovereign rollups and ordinals further demonstrate the potential for Bitcoin to support a wider range of applications.  

  • Sovereign Rollups: These operate with a high degree of independence, enabling them to leverage Bitcoin’s security while supporting new functionalities akin to those found on Ethereum. Essentially, sovereign rollups allow for the creation of scalable, application-specific blockchains that settle their transactions on the Bitcoin main chain. This enhances scalability and versatility, enabling more complex and diverse applications to be built on top of Bitcoin. Can you imagine tokenizing assets using Bitcoin as the settlement layer as opposed to Ethereum? 

  • Ordinals: This innovation introduces the ability to inscribe individual satoshis—the smallest unit of Bitcoin, equal to 0.00000001 BTC—with unique data. This allows for the creation of distinct digital assets directly on Bitcoin’s blockchain. Ordinals can be used to create and manage NFTs (non-fungible tokens) on Bitcoin, expanding its use case beyond simple financial transactions to include digital art, collectibles, and other unique digital assets. For example, to commemorate the Bitcoin ETF’s in the US, WisdomTree inscribed “Vires in Numeris” onchain. You can view it here: 

Bridging Bitcoin and Ethereum’s Capabilities 
The integration of technologies like BitVM and ZK rollups into Bitcoin does not merely enhance its functionality; it also bridges the gap between Bitcoin’s robust security features and Ethereum’s flexible, application-friendly environment. This convergence enables the development of dApps, complex financial instruments, and more, all while maintaining the decentralized and secure nature of Bitcoin. 

Bitcoin’s Ecosystem: To Infinity and Beyond 
For the average user, especially those using finance apps, the advancements in Bitcoin Layer 2 solutions could have several significant impacts: 

  • Faster Transaction Settlements:  
    Using Layer 2 solutions like the Lightning Network, users can experience near-instantaneous transaction settlements. This means you could buy a coffee or pay for groceries with Bitcoin and have the transaction complete in seconds, rather than waiting for several confirmations on the main chain, which can take from several minutes to an hour. 

  • Lower Fees:  
    Transactions processed on Layer 2 solutions typically incur much lower fees compared to those on the main Bitcoin blockchain. This makes everyday purchases more cost-effective, encouraging more frequent use of Bitcoin for small transactions. 

  • Enhanced Functionality:  
    Layer 2 solutions bring more expressiveness to Bitcoin, allowing for complex financial instruments and smart contracts. Users could engage in more sophisticated financial transactions directly within apps. For example, they could set up automated payments, create decentralized finance (DeFi) agreements, or participate in more complex financial instruments, all secured by the Bitcoin network. 

  • Improved Security and Privacy:  
    Layer 2 solutions often come with enhanced security and privacy features. Technologies like ZK rollups incorporate advanced cryptographic techniques to enhance transaction privacy. Users can expect greater confidentiality for their transactions, protecting their financial data from being publicly exposed. Leveraging Bitcoin’s robust security model, Layer 2 solutions can provide a secure environment for transactions and smart contracts. Users can trust that their assets and transaction data are well-protected. 

Recently, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, quipped that Bitcoin “does nothing” and is a “pet rock.” Some have even said that Bitcoin has failed as a currency. Is that true? Maybe, but also maybe not. The ongoing innovations in Layer 2 solutions are transforming Bitcoin, addressing its current limitations, and pushing it towards a future where it can play a more active role in everyday personal finance. 

As the Bitcoin community continues to build on Satoshi Nakamoto’s original vision of a “peer-to-peer electronic cash system,” the exploration and implementation of Layer 2 solutions like ZK rollups, BitVM, and sovereign rollups are essential. They represent a pathway toward a Bitcoin that can meet the needs of our everyday personal financial activities. Bitcoin was intended to be used as a currency; it just needs a little help getting there. Layer 2 solutions are capable of supporting the dynamic range of applications that characterize modern blockchain ecosystems present on Ethereum, and Bitcoin will soon join the ranks of an expressive, general-purpose ledger. The future of the Bitcoin ecosystem looks not only bright but also increasingly expansive. Imagine a world where buying your morning coffee with Bitcoin is as fast and convenient as using any traditional payment method. 

Stay in the know

Sign up to get our latest insights!

Similar Articles

Get the WisdomTree Prime® app

Scan the QR Code to download the app.

WisdomTree Prime® is available in:

We plan on being in all 50 states soon!
If we aren’t currently available in your state, join our waitlist below.

By clicking “Submit”, you acknowledge reading the privacy policy and disclosures.