Stacks R&D: Better Bitcoin Layers With BitVM
A new Stacks Working Group with an initial allocation of $500,000 will lead BitVM-related research and development for the leading Bitcoin L2
By Mitchell Cuevas on March 28, 2024
As the Bitcoin economy continues to blossom, a new Stacks Working Group will seek to enhance the security of Bitcoin layers by contributing to and researching BitVM, a computational engine intended to support more efficient Bitcoin scaling.

Leveraging Stacks as a robust initial case study, the BitVM-focused Working Group will look to accelerate the development of BitVM while determining how it might improve trust assumptions on the network. Technologies like BitVM are complementary to networks like Stacks and other layers seeking the most secure, direct connection to the Bitcoin L1.

BitVM is a computing paradigm that hopes to "enable a free market of second layers, potentially scaling Bitcoin to billions of users". This includes layers like Stacks, Bitcoin rollups, trust-minimized bridges, and more. The core design of BitVM takes computation off-chain and implements a fraud-proving mechanism on the Bitcoin blockchain.

As R&D progresses, the group will open-source its research and findings, ultimately hoping to offer insights to the whole Bitcoin ecosystem about BitVM-powered options for securing an exploding number of layers and projects. The Working Group not only hopes to accelerate a version of BitVM that can improve the trust assumptions of Stacks, but also to provide open-source solutions that can work for other projects and layers as they strive to make their designs more secure.

The Stacks Foundation is allocating an initial minimum of $500,000 to support the Working Group, with more funding made available as the group accomplishes milestones and progresses with the technology. Further, the Stacks ecosystem is expected to invest more than $2 million on research and development over the next 12-18 months, assuming a viable path forward is determined and steady progress can be made as BitVM and other related technologies evolve toward production-ready solutions.

Today, you can find a new open position for a 'Lead BitVM Researcher', a hire we expect to play a leadership role in the Working Group. In addition, we plan to support the onboarding of 2-3 additional software engineer hires across the ecosystem over the next 6 months that will be able to support BitVM-related efforts as they progress. These developers will collaborate as needed with BitVM core developers to support their research into securing Layer 2s on Bitcoin and are expected to contribute to the BitVM codebase.

We believe BitVM has the potential to be a key piece of infrastructure in a rapidly developing Bitcoin ecosystem and are anxious to rally resources and talent from the Stacks ecosystem to support its continued development. As some of the earliest proponents of extending Bitcoin’s functionality, we’re very excited about the potential for BitVM to improve the trust assumptions of the whole Bitcoin ecosystem and possibly underpin the security of the emerging Bitcoin economy through layers like Stacks.

All of the data, research, reports, and code generated by the Working Group will be open-sourced and made available so that the entire Bitcoin ecosystem can benefit.

In addition to supporting hires and the budget allocation for the BitVM Working Group, we will support the production of educational content focused on BitVM that will be distributed freely via events and other channels. The allocation will be subject to milestones developed by the Working Group and in concert with the Stacks community and input from BitVM core developers. Kenny Rogers, our Developer Advocate, will lead the Working Group initially and look to establish a permanent lead while driving hiring on the open position and gathering feedback on possible milestones from the community.