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Bitcoin’s Layer-2 Ecosystem is Booming as Fourth Halving Approaches

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Although many crypto experts rightly revere Bitcoin as the world’s most valuable blockchain, until relatively recently it could not be described as scalable.

With the ability to process just seven transactions per second – compared to 24,000 for Visa – the network’s technical limitations made it ill-suited to handling large transaction volumes. Moreover, its lack of support for smart contracts saw it play second fiddle in the DeFi arms race as close competitor Ethereum became the home of financial dApps and NFTs.

In the words of the late, great Notorious B.I.G., things done changed. The emergence of Layer-2 scaling solutions building on top of Bitcoin have provided much-needed scalability, relieving the burden on the main chain and causing a preponderance of new BTC use cases.

Why Bitcoin Needs Layer-2

As with Ethereum’s extensive L2 ecosystem, the auxiliary networks that have anchored to Bitcoin have attracted developers, investors and NFT collectors en masse, bringing things like smart contract functionality and non-fungible tokens to the Proof-of-Work (PoW) chain.

They’ve also prompted a renaissance of so-called builder culture in the Bitcoin community, as enterprising technologists have busily set about developing L2s to address the network’s long-standing limitations.

The interplay between the main Bitcoin network and these L2s is fascinating: effectively, secondary solutions and sidechains leverage the robust security model and decentralization of the base layer, while imbuing it with additional utility and helping it cope with a higher volume of transactions.

Some might argue that Bitcoin did not need L2 solutions. But this camp is very much of the belief that bitcoin’s sole appeal is as a store of value. Others contend that it can be both a compelling store of value and a blockchain capable of supporting permissionless financial primitives like leveraging trading and collateralized lending.

Bitcoin-based DeFi, in other words.

Bitcoin’s Growing L2 Landscape

Whether it’s due to the impending Halving, spot ETF approvals, growing Bitcoin maturity, or simply the forward-looking attitudes of those building on the PoW chain, Layer-2 projects have been building up a head of steam in the early part of 2024.

Earth Wallet is a good example. The venture, a self-custody wallet that enables users to participate in a decentralized organization, recently announced details of its very own Bitcoin L2, a scaling solution called Social Network.

In essence, Social Network is a staking protocol that aims to “make Bitcoin more user-friendly, a stable source of wealth creation, 99% less energy intensive, and positive for the environment.” It intends to achieve this by moving Ordinals media off the main Bitcoin network and into the Nostr protocol, and enabling users to securely deposit BTC in liquidity pools in return for staked bitcoin (STBTC) and Social Network (EARTH) rewards.

Since launching its testnet in early February, Earth Wallet’s Social Network has disbursed testnet BTC over 25,000 times with an announcement on the mainnet said to be coming soon.

Stacks Protocol is another L2 on the march. This open-source protocol enables smart contracts and dApps to use Bitcoin as a base layer and its native tokens has been one of the market’s biggest recent winners, outperforming BTC and posting 400% gains since last October. A multitude of dApps now call Stacks home, from NFT platform Gamma to DeFi protocol ALEX.

Not all L2s came to prominence recently, though. Lightning Network was introduced in early 2016 as a means of boosting Bitcoin’s scalability and has gone from strength to strength since. In fact, routed transactions on the LN increased by over 1200% in the last two years.

By settling bitcoin transactions off-chain, Lightning Network allows for extremely low fees and blazing fast confirmations. A number of Lightning-enabled crypto wallets now exist, facilitating cheap, near-instantaneous micro-transactions that don’t cripple the underlying L1 network. There are even Lightning ATMs in the wild.

With the total value locked in Bitcoin-based DeFi protocols having recently blown past $2 billion – up from $300 million at the turn of the year – the L2 trend shows no sign of slowing down. For bitcoiners, it means the network to which they’ve pledged fealty is well on the way to competing with Ethereum for dApp dominance.

Disclaimer: The Industry Talk section presents information from cryptocurrency brokers and is not part of the editorial content of Cryptonews.com.

The post Bitcoin’s Layer-2 Ecosystem is Booming as Fourth Halving Approaches appeared first on Cryptonews.

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