Banks and Bitcoin, Let's Talk About Layers

Week of March 17, 2023

This edition’s theme: Layers.

From layered and complex banking ‘situations’ to a continued rise in the profile of Bitcoin and its layers, there has been more to keep up with than most 7-8 day periods in recent memory. For some of you, it might have been a pretty stressful week as you were rugged by one or more of your banks. For others, you might have enjoyed the ride as Bitcoin sentiment turned bullish in the face of bank bailouts around the world.

Many of you reading this particular newsletter likely experienced a bit of both.

As builders, we have to exist in the messy overlap between legacy systems and emerging systems. We live where idealism and vision for a better future have to meet the practical realities of running companies in today’s world.

Your crypto holdings were safe, but are you set up to deliver payroll with it? What banks are still friendly to crypto companies? Where should I move my cash, my treasury? Could our mission really be hampered because the very thing we endeavor to replace, at least in part, crumbled underneath us as we were building?

For each of you, the answers to these questions will look slightly different, but the last one in particular is important to wrestle with. In order for us to have a true alternative to the current legacy system, the new system we’re building has to do more and do it better. And, it might have to do it sooner than later.

Each of us in this Working Group is funneling our energy and resources into sBTC for that exact reason. We believe sBTC is one more major aspect of the Bitcoin layers that will ultimately enable a more robust, secure, transparent, and people-owned alternative to the system we have today. And, as recent events highlight, what we build has to stand strong even as weaknesses in our current systems put pressure on the ways we can operate.

For those of us in the Bitcoin community, this past week was not a wake-up call. We’ve been painfully aware of what needs to be done for years. But it can be a prescient reminder of why we’re doing what we’re doing and the urgency with which we need to do it.

Look out for next week:

  • A bevy of new hackathon and event announcements 📆 

  • More news on the sBTC Alpha testnet 🧪 

💻 Engineering Updates

  • igor

    • Great progress on sBTC Alpha this week, plan to announce sBTC Alpha testnet release during SIP Community call on 3/24.

    • Completed items for sBTC Alpha include:

      • sBTC Bridge Front-End

      • sBTC Bridge API

    • Remaining items for sBTC Alpha:

      • Medium risk: Signing Peg Out transactions.

      • Low risk: Add stacks-coord polling to stacks-node to retrieve peg-in/wrap list

      • Low risk: deployment infrastructure

    • sBTC Mini development kicked off this week, including the introduction of a ‘skeleton’ for sBTC mini

  • Jacinta

    • Merged: PR-178 core eng cleanup of error handling

    • Merged: PR-175 separate public and private components of Frost DKG signing rounds for speedup

    • WIP: stacks node polling of peg-in list handling

  • stjepan

    • WIP: PR-180 stacks-doctor - a CLI tool for analyzing and debugging Stacks nodes

  • Ӿoloki

    • Merged: PR#174 core-eng: Sign Peg Out request

    • Merged: PR#170 core-eng: dkg_end unit test should fail

    • Merged: PR#163 core-eng: Repeat DKG and nonce rounds until the aggregate public key and random commitment sum both have even y coords

  • donpdonp

    • Helped: PR#183 Stacker/Signer install documentation

    • Merged: PR#146 peg-out btc transaction builder

    • Helped: PR#174 sign peg-out request

    • Helped: PR#88 stacks-coordinator polls stacks-node for peg operations

  • fjs

    • Done: prefixes to C secp256k1 lib: PR#39

    • Done: sbtc-bridge deployment to CloudFlare PR#47

    • WiP: review sbtc-bridge and sbtc-bridge-api.

    • WiP: clean-up a frost-net. PR#50

    • WiP: alpha retrospective.

  • mpj

    • Merged: PR#176 Scaffolds project sbtc-mini

    • Merged: PR#177 Improve test and add CI for clarinet

    • In review: PR#171 Randomize port of bitcoind util for integration test

    • WIP: reviewing codes/bounties and see what I can contribute to

⚒️ Go-To-Market Updates

  • Completed partner one-pager with recent Stacks ecosystem highlights (Link)

  • Published Request for Comment on sOrds, Ordinals infrastructure that utilizes the sBTC system (Link)

  • Further sBTC brand progress, narrowed to 2 leading concepts and planning to share with Comms WG next week

  • Completed V1 of documentation needed for prospective sBTC signers

  • Logged several positive calls with well-known potential signers & bridges

🌍 Around the Ecosystem

  • ALEX raises $2.5M to accelerate Bitcoin DeFi (Link)

  • Element8 (Stacks Accelerator, Stacks Grants) secures $200m (Link)

  • The Bitcoin Frontier Fund doubles down on Bitcoin startups (Link)

  • Hiro ships Bitcoin Ordinals Explorer (Link)

  • Xverse launched Sats Connect, an open-source Bitcoin wallet API that connects apps to Bitcoin wallets and enables PSBT signing. (Link)

  • Muneeb chatted with Forbes (👇️)

Signing Off,
sBTC Working Group