What Is Botanix? A Guide to the EVM-Compatible Spiderchain for Bitcoin

Learn about Botanix Lab’s EVM-compatible Spiderchain, a second-layer protocol built on top of Bitcoin.

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Bitcoin Layers
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Elizabeth Olson

Published

March 27, 2024

Botanix Labs is working to create a dApp ecosystem for Bitcoin that is equal to or even better than Ethereum’s. Read on to learn about the Botanix Protocol and how it plans to transform Bitcoin. 

What Is the Botanix Protocol?

The Botanix Protocol is an EVM-equivalent Layer 2 network built on top of Bitcoin by Botanix Labs. 

The project has forked the Rust implementation of Ethereum to leverage the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), helping developers to build decentralized applications (dApps) on Bitcoin. This will convert Bitcoin into a blockchain that is not only highly decentralized and secure but also capable of supporting dApp development. 

Botanix maintains a link to the base layer blockchain via a two-way peg bridge that enables users to “move” BTC back and forth between Botanix and Bitcoin. 

The bridged BTC is locked in multisig wallets secured by Orchestrator nodes, which act as liquidity sources for Botanix. A series of these multisig wallets create the Spiderchain, another key component for the Botanix Protocol. 

Moreover, Botanix uses the Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus model but still leverages Bitcoin’s Proof-of-Work (PoW) model to inherit Bitcoin's finality. The protocol requires Orchestrator nodes to stake BTC, helping ensure that they will guard the BTC that users bridge to the Botanix Protocol.  

What Is Botanix Labs?

Botanix Labs is the company behind the Botanix Protocol. It was established in 2023 by Willem Schroe, an Electrical Engineer and MBA from Belgium who is currently based in the U.S. 

Botanix Labs is building an EVM ecosystem on Bitcoin that aims to transform the leading network for digital money into a programmable layer capable of powering the future of DeFi. 

According to the developers, this will scale Bitcoin and potentially boost mass adoption. The Botanix Protocol is currently in the testnet stage of development and plans to launch on the mainnet in Q2 2024.  

How Does Botanix’s EVM-Compatible Spiderchain Work?

Here’s a breakdown of the different components that contribute to Botanix’s operations.

Orchestrator Nodes

Orchestrator nodes are responsible for creating new blocks, validating transactions, and minting and burning synthetic bitcoin on Botanix. Moreover, they participate in the Spiderchain by safeguarding the BTC locked in multisig wallets after a user has bridged from the Bitcoin base layer to Botanix. 

Therefore, Spiderchain is a distributed network of a successive series of multisig wallets between Orchestrator nodes. A new multisig wallet is created with every Bitcoin block. The Botanix Protocol randomly selects the Orchestrator node to protect a newly created multisig wallet. 

Synthetic bitcoin is the native token of Botanix. It is pegged to BTC on a ratio of 1:1 and is the main element in the Botanix two-way peg bridge system. So, Spiderchain could be referred to as a sidechain because of this bridging system and its independent consensus mechanism. 

Botanix adopts a PoS consensus model that requires Orchestrator nodes to stake their own funds (BTC) to remain honest. These funds are held on the Spiderchain, and rewards are paid in BTC. If an Orchestrator node operator engages in malicious behavior, their stake is slashed as punishment for their action. 

Orchestrators are randomly selected to create new blocks and validate transactions based on the amount of their stake. This can create a centralization problem since large stakers have a greater chance of being chosen. Botanix counterbalances this centralization risk by inheriting Bitcoin’s decentralization properties, as each synthetic bitcoin on Botanix is pegged to one bitcoin on the base layer.  

Finality

All Botanix transactions finally settle on the Bitcoin blockchain, making them immutable, decentralized, and secure. 

To achieve this finality, Orchestrator nodes post the root hash of the current Botanix Merkle Tree to the base layer. For every Bitcoin block, an Orchestrator node communicates the Merkle Tree root hash to other nodes on Botanix and then inscribes it on Bitcoin. In the simplest terms, a Merkle Tree root hash is a summary of the transaction data in a Botanix block. Blocks on Botanix are generated about every 12 seconds, which is faster than Bitcoin’s average 10-minute block time.

Once posted to Bitcoin, the data is verified and added to the chain. If an Orchestrator posts the wrong Merkle Tree root hash to the main chain, other Orchestrators will see the mistake. Therefore, the Botanix Protocol will not achieve finality, and the responsible node will be punished by having its stake slashed.

The Botanix EVM

The Botanix EVM lives on top of the protocol’s hardware and node layer. It is responsible for running and compiling smart contract code into a readable format. Also, the EVM computes the current status of the Layer 2 protocol. 

Unlike Bitcoin which uses a UTXO model, the Botanix EVM utilizes the accounts-based model just like Ethereum. The two models represent the different ways blockchains process and record transactions.

The UTXO model keeps track of users’ individual coins represented as Unspent Transaction Outputs (UTXOs). Each UTXO is designated to a different wallet address. To better understand this model, imagine a scenario where you want to purchase a cup of coffee worth $2 and have a $5 note. You will give the coffee shop your $5 and receive $3 in change. If this data was recorded on the Bitcoin blockchain, the $5 bill and the $3 change would be represented as two separate UTXOs. Therefore, your BTC balance represents these two UTXOs.

On the contrary, the accounts-based model works like a bank account that records fund transfers as debits and credits. That means a blockchain running this model will track the balance changes in a user’s account. For instance, if Alice wants to send Bob $20 worth of ETH, the blockchain will instruct its nodes to decrease the balance in Alice’s account by $20 and increase Bob’s balance by the same amount.

Bridging

Botanix enables users to bridge BTC to and from the main chain. This process is similar to the two-way bridge system used by Bitcoin sidechains. 

In Botanix, a user can “move” BTC from the base layer by locking it in a multisig wallet. In return, a Botanix smart contract mints an equivalent amount of synthetic bitcoin and issues it to the user, enabling them to interact with the dApps built on the Layer 2 network. 

The BTC that enters Botanix is stored in a new multisig wallet that is controlled and safeguarded by random Orchestrator nodes. Users can also request to move back to the base layer, prompting the Botanix smart contract to burn synthetic bitcoin and release the locked BTC. 

Benefits And Drawbacks of Botanix’s Spiderchain?

Now that you understand how Botanix works, let’s look at the pros and cons.

Benefits

  • Scales Bitcoin by enhancing programmability
  • Inherits Bitcoin’s PoW security model
  • Promotes dApp development on Bitcoin
  • Permits the bridging of BTC to and from the base layer
  • Ethereum dApps can be “copied and pasted” on Bitcoin

Drawbacks

  • Competitors are also using EVM and sidechain technology to scale Bitcoin
  • Too early to tell how impactful the protocol will be

What Does Botanix’s Spiderchain Bring to Bitcoin?

Once live, Botanix promises to impact Bitcoin in the following ways:

Facilitate dApp Development

By leveraging a full EVM client, Botanix might enable developers to build a variety of dApps secured by Bitcoin. 

EVM supports fully expressive smart contracts written in Solidity. That means it can support dApps development or allow projects to “copy and paste” their Ethereum dApps on Botanix. 

Examples of dApps that can run on Botanix include decentralized exchanges (DEXes), decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), prediction markets, gaming protocols, NFT marketplaces, and lending platforms.

Promote NFT Creation

Smart contracts mint non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and assign and reassign ownership. Therefore, by supporting EVM-powered smart contracts, Botanix will promote the creation of NFTs while leveraging Bitcoin’s robust security. 

Also, popular Ethereum NFT projects can “copy and paste” their collections on Bitcoin, making them available to the Bitcoin community.

Increase Utility

By bringing dApp development and NFTs to Bitcoin, Botanix could boost Bitcoin’s utility and attract new users. As a result, a Layer 2 protocol like Botanix can help Bitcoin attain its goal of mass adoption and even boost revenue sources for Bitcoin miners. 

As the Bitcoin block reward halves approximately every four years, miners will also depend on Layer 2 use cases to make money through transaction fees.

Xverse: Your Gateway to Web3 Built on Bitcoin

Xverse is a popular Web3 wallet built for the Bitcoin ecosystem. The non-custodial wallet supports BTC, Stacks assets, Ordinals, BRC-20, and Runes

Botanix dApps will need a wallet like Xverse to reach the Bitcoin community. Fortunately, Xverse offers an easy way for developers to connect their dApps to Xverse through Sats Connect, an API that allows dApps to pull users’ wallet addresses and request users to sign transactions. Here’s a guide on how to get started with this API.

Download Xverse today to explore the exciting world of Web3 built on Bitcoin.

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