Building on Bitcoin: 4th Halving Ushers In An Era of Bitcoin Innovation
Grant Nissly on May 8th, 2024
The Stacks Foundation hosted the Building on Bitcoin: Halving Edition Virtual event on April 25. The event featured dozens of the most prominent voices in the Bitcoin builder ecosystem, covering Bitcoin + AI, DeFi, Stacking, Ordinals, rollups, and more.

Whether you were an active participant or missed out on the live sessions, the event is now available on YouTube and X.
Below you will find summaries of key talks from the event.
This Halving is Different
Moderator: Natalie Brunell (CoinStories Podcast)
Speakers: Maksim Balashevich (Sentiment AG), Rena Shah (Trust Machines), Matthew Sigel (VanEck)

Bitcoin's fourth halving occurs in a world vastly different from Satoshi Nakamoto's time. Today, there is broad retail and institutional adoption via U.S. spot ETFs alongside serious geopolitical events.

The panel discussed macro influences, noting the ongoing bull market, the need to build layers on Bitcoin, and the impact of the U.S. Presidential election on crypto's future.

From Digital Gold to Cloud Casino: Will Runes Bring Degens to Bitcoin?
Moderator: 0xDima (SatScreener)
Speakers: Akshat Vaidya (Maelstrom), Jason Lau (OKX), Rafael Cardenas (Hiro)

The panel discussed the impact of the Runes protocol on Bitcoin's ecosystem. They discussed how Runes aim to accommodate “degens” and meme coins, offering an alternative to BRC-20s, though many may lack value.

Rafael predicts Runes will move to Layer 2s due to high Layer 1 fees, Akshat highlights the niche for high-fee Bitcoin meme coins, and Jason emphasizes improving user experience by addressing friction in using Runes and BRC-20s.

What Can Bitcoin Do Better?
Moderator: Kyle Ellicott (Bitcoin Frontier Fund)
Speakers: Meltem Demirors (Stacks Foundation) and Ryan Selkis (Messari)

The panel discussed the recent developments in the Bitcoin ecosystem, including the halving event, rising mining fees, new token experiments, and a growing number of Layer 2 protocols.

Ryan and Meltem explored the potential impact of these developments on Bitcoin's long-term sustainability, the need for a vibrant fee market, and the emergence of a more modular and composable architecture.

The conversation also touched on the evolving Bitcoin culture and the importance of inclusivity.

Fighting Fragmentation: Why Bitcoin UX Needs a Level-Up
Moderator: Ren Crypto Fish (Electric Capital)
Speakers: Nick Sainato (, Kevin Kim (Phantom), Mark Hendrickson (Leather)

The panel highlighted friction caused by Bitcoin's infrastructure differing from other chains, the complexity of the UTXO model that wallets must abstract, and the need to improve non-custodial crypto onboarding by reducing user reliance on private keys.

They also explored Bitcoin's fragmented user experience, especially around different address types across wallets/marketplaces.

Bitcoin for a Billion Users
Speaker: Illia Polosukhin (NEAR Protocol)

Illia Polosukhin discussed the critical role of chain abstraction in onboarding the next billion Bitcoin users. He explained how chain abstraction bridges Bitcoin and AI, allowing consumers to interact with crypto without explicit knowledge.

Polosukhin connected the dots between these technologies, positioning chain abstraction as the missing link to bringing a billion new users to Bitcoin.

Why Bitcoin Matters in the AI Era
Moderator: Charlie Spears (Blockspace Media)
Speakers: Brittany Laughlin (Stacks Foundation), Margueritte De Courcelle / Coin Artist (Blockade Labs), Illia Polosukhin (NEAR Protocol)

The panel discussed the intersection of AI and Bitcoin, exploring how AI agents could interact with blockchains, smart contracts, and decentralized applications.

The panel discussed using AI for natural language interfaces, autonomous agents coordinating DAOs, crowdsourcing model training, token incentives for AI compute/curation, and the challenges of AI hallucinations.

Overall, the panel envisions AI enhancing user experiences, automation, creativity, and governance within the crypto ecosystem.

It's Time for Bitcoiners to Start Thinking About Interop
Moderator: Will Foxley (Blockspace Media)
Speakers: Robinson Burkey (Wormhole Foundation), Ahmad Alkabra (Rootstock Labs), Alex Miller (Hiro)

The panel discussed Bitcoin interoperability, examining the demand for enabling Bitcoin to interact with other blockchains and Layer 2 solutions.

They explored different approaches like bridges, sidechains, and rollups, each with trade-offs in user experience, security, and decentralization.

Key priorities highlighted were upholding Bitcoin's core values of decentralization and security while improving developer experience and cross-chain integration. The panel also emphasized understanding end goals, working with oracles, and strategizing for the wider ecosystem as important interoperability considerations.

Muneeb Ali in Conversation With BOB's Alexei Zamyatin
Moderator: Kyle Ellicott (Bitcoin Frontier Fund)
Speakers: Muneeb Ali (Trust Machines), Alexei Zamyatin (BOB)

The panel explored Bitcoin interoperability and the evolving ecosystem of Layer 2 solutions built on Bitcoin.

They discussed the demand for scalability, the challenges of user experience, and approaches like sidechains, rollups, and bridges that aim to improve speed, security, and decentralization while enabling new use cases like DeFi integrations.

Key priorities highlighted were upholding Bitcoin's core values while accelerating innovation and increasing adoption across the broader crypto ecosystem.

Bitcoin Semantics Session: Rollups
Speaker: Janusz Grzegorz (Bitcoin Layers)

Janusz clarified the semantics around Bitcoin rollups, emphasizing they are alternative blockchains using Bitcoin for data availability, not trustless Layer 2 solutions (yet).

He advocated for analyzing each implementation's trust properties and risks independently. However, he remains optimistic about Bitcoin rollups' potential to enable new use cases atop Bitcoin.

Rollups and Sidechains: What's the Difference?
Speakers: Janusz Grzegorz (Bitcoin Layers), Andre Serrano (Stacks Foundation), Elena Giralt (Hiro Systems)

The panel discussed the need for Bitcoin layers to increase functionality and scalability while inheriting Bitcoin's security and liquidity.

They explored different approaches like rollups, sidechains, and application layers, each with trade-offs in trust assumptions, decentralization, and seamless user experiences like unilateral exits.

The panelists emphasized the importance of open-source collaboration, ongoing research, and communicating the risks and trust models of emerging Bitcoin layer solutions to enable informed decision-making as the ecosystem evolves.

Bird's Eye View on Nakamoto
Moderator: Andre Serrano (Stacks Foundation)
Speaker: Kenny Rogers (Stacks Foundation)

Andre Serrano and Kenny Rogers discussed the upcoming Nakamoto upgrade to the STX Network, which will introduce fast blocks and Bitcoin finality.

This upgrade will significantly improve the user and developer experience, with faster transaction confirmation times and increased security. The upgrade also introduces a new role for Stackers, who will act as signers to validate and broadcast new blocks (and will be compensated with a Bitcoin yield).

Smart Contracts: Build, Test & Integrate With the Hiro Platform
Speakers: Leah McBeth (Hiro)

In this session, Leah dives into the process of writing and testing a Stacks Smart Contract, empowering builders to bring Bitcoin applications to life.

What the Halving Means for Bitcoin DeFi
Moderator: Tycho Onnasch (Zest Protocol & Stacking DAO)
Speakers: Hadan Esperidiao (ALEX), Dylan Floyd (BitFlow), Jakob Schillinger (Hermetica)


The panel discussed the impact of the Bitcoin halving on decentralized finance (DeFi) and the growing ecosystem of Layer 2 solutions built on top of Bitcoin.

They explored the potential for these Layer 2 protocols to provide better user experiences, programmability, and scalability for DeFi applications, while leveraging Bitcoin's security and decentralization.

The panelists shared their perspectives on the future of Bitcoin DeFi, including the development of stablecoins, lending protocols, and the tokenization of traditional assets on the Bitcoin network.

Building on Bitcoin Hackathon
Moderator: Adam Haun (Stacks Foundation)
Speakers: Dom Kwok (EasyA), Phil Kwok (EasyA)

Adam, Dom, and Phil discussed EasyA's app that teaches blockchain concepts and prepares users for hackathons.

They covered the EasyA Boston hackathon where participants will showcase their projects built on the Stacks Bitcoin layer.

Thank you to all!
Our speakers, moderators, and organizers made the Building on Bitcoin event a major success.

If you want to watch the event in full, find it on YouTube and X.