Forget Ethereum, Bitcoin Upgrade Unlocks Smart Contracts

BitVM proposes a novel approach to enabling enhanced technical capabilities on the Bitcoin network.

Bitcoin helps with Smart Contracts.
Created by Kornelija Poderskytė from DailyCoin
  • BitVM will enable sophisticated smart contracts on Bitcoin.
  • The BitVM proposal relies on off-chain processes.
  • Several limitations require ironing out.

Bitcoin launched in 2009 as a response to the broken fiat money system, paving the way for countless other digital assets to make their mark. Over a decade on, there’s no denying that Bitcoin’s technical capabilities now pale against that of second and third-generation blockchains. 

Despite its technological shortcomings, Bitcoin remains the most decentralized and trusted protocol, securing its position as the top cryptocurrency in the market. However, in a bid for the best of both worlds, developer Robin Linus has proposed a groundbreaking upgrade that could revolutionize Bitcoin’s technical capabilities, potentially rendering altcoins obsolete.

Do Anything on Bitcoin 

On October 9, Linus published a whitepaper titled “BitVM: Compute Anything on Bitcoin, which detailed proposals for enhancing Bitcoin’s technical capabilities and functionality without requiring a fork of the code or changes to the consensus rules, thus preserving Bitcoin’s integrity.


According to the white paper, the basic architecture of the upgrade moves computational load off the technologically limited base layer, relying instead on the off-chain interaction between a prover and a verifier. The prover claims a function produces a specific output for certain inputs while the verifier assesses the prover’s claim.   

“As long as both parties collaborate, they can perform arbitrarily complex, stateful off-chain computation, without leaving any trace in the chain,” read the BitVM whitepaper.

Current Bitcoin smart contract capabilities are reduced to basic metadata, such as signatures and time locks. Still, BitVM enables a more expressive smart contract design, opening up new possibilities, including games, proof verification, bridges, and prediction markets. Nonetheless, BitVM faces several technical and practical challenges to overcome. 

Challenges and Limitations

Detailing the limitations, Linus mentioned that BitVM could be more efficient by utilizing Bitcoin’s higher-level operations, including script support for 32-bit numbers and fully using each block’s 4MB capacity.


Further limitations lie in the model’s two-party setup of prover and verifier. However, Linus revealed that research is underway to extend the system to include more participants, including exploring the possibility of chaining two-way channels together.

Bitcoin developer “Bob Bodily” waded into the discussion to voice multiple drawbacks with BitVM, including it being slower, more expensive, and more complicated than Ethereum’s virtual machine (EVM). 

On the Flipside

  • Bitcoin has a history of proposals that struggle to gain traction, such as OKX’s BRC-30 token standard.
  • Alts provide a ground-up design to accommodate sophisticated functionality, whereas BitVM approaches the issue as an afterthought.

Why This Matters

Some have criticized Bitcoin as an inflexible protocol that cannot evolve. However, BitVM is challenging this notion and demonstrating that Bitcoin has the potential to compete with other cryptocurrencies in terms of functionality.

Find out more details on CZ’s post-halving Bitcoin price prediction here:
CZ Forecasts Bitcoin’s Next Future Peak: Here’s When

Discover why the community is pushing back against THORSwap reinstating swap functionality here:
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This article is for information purposes only and should not be considered trading or investment advice. Nothing herein shall be construed as financial, legal, or tax advice. Trading forex, cryptocurrencies, and CFDs pose a considerable risk of loss.

Samuel Wan

Samuel Wan is a finance professional turned crypto journalist, known for his insightful reporting on market trends, regulatory changes, and technological developments within the digital asset industry. His ability to simplify complex concepts and report the facts has made him a trusted source in the crypto community. Beyond his writing, Samuel is an active mountain biker and gamer.