Chain Moves to Simplify Smart Contracts on Bitcoin Blockchain

The startup released an open-source compiler that translates between Ivy, Chain's high-level smart contract language, and low-level Bitcoin Script.

AccessTimeIconDec 20, 2017 at 7:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:17 a.m. UTC
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Chain, a blockchain tech startup, is trying to make it easier to write smart contracts on the bitcoin blockchain.

The San Francisco-based company has released an open-source compiler that translates between Ivy, Chain's own high-level smart contract language, and Bitcoin Script, the low-level programming language of the world's first and largest blockchain.

According to Chain's latest blog post, Ivy aims to help developers "write custom, SegWit-compatible bitcoin addresses that enforce arbitrary combinations of conditions supported by the bitcoin protocol, including signature checks, hash commitments, and timelocks."

As reported previously, Ivy was introduced in a public demo in December 2016.

Language limitations

While ethereum's advanced smart contract functionality is a key feature that differentiates it from bitcoin, the latter does allow developers to write smart contracts using Bitcoin Script.

Yet, the limitations of the underlying virtual machine have made the language difficult to write in.

"Bitcoin Script development is considered somewhat esoteric," Chain's blog post reads.

However, it is worth noting that the Ivy language currently is more for educational and research purposes as it is still an untested prototype software.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which owns an equity stake in Chain.

Translation image via Shutterstock.


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