It had to happen sooner or later; a new programming language for smart contracts has emerged to challenge Ethereum’s dominance in the market.
Ivy, the smart contract programming language developed by CHAIN, which is a blockchain development platform, will write smart contracts for Bitcoin’s blockchain. This might cause some upset for Ethereum, which is the platform everyone associates with smart contracts and the main system for ICOs, where it has something of a market monopoly.
CHAIN announced Ivy this week and explained that it has always been possible to write smart contracts on the Bitcoin blockchain, but that up until the arricval of Ivy, the Bitcoin Script was low level and had limited functionality. In its announcement, CHAIN said: “Bitcoin script development is considered somewhat esoteric,” and whilst some wallets, exchanges and payment platforms have used it successfully, it just wasn’t fit for purpose when it came to smart contracts.
Ivy by contrast is a much higher level language that make sit easier to write contracts for the Bitcoin network. CHAIN described it thus: “Ivy helps you write custom, SegWit-compatible Bitcoin addresses that enforce arbitrary combinations of conditions supported by the Bitcoin protocol including signature checks, hash commitments and timelocks.”
However, even Bitcoin developers are not convinced that this presents a threat to Ethereum. Jimmy Song told Cointelegraph: “Ivy makes SCRIPT easier to handle. It doesn’t change Bitcoin fundamentally, just makes coding it easier. ETH is Turing complete, which BTC cannot have without some sort of soft fork at a minimum. I don’t see the “smart contracting” ability of ETH as a “feature”, but more as a vulnerability. The attack surface on the ETH smart contracting platform is much greater. The fundamentals haven’t changed, this is more like a nice tool for developers.”
This is an interesting perspective, because it suggests that the Bitcoin blockchain still has a long way to go to catch up with Ethereum, However, there are those who are feeling more positive about Ivy, such as Matej Michalko, the CEO of Decent commented in Cointelegraph: “Ivy is an excellent example of the multifaceted development of blockchain products. Cross chain referencing is proliferating and it is on its way to dominate the ecosystem. Bitcoin can now be on par with Ethereum as a great smart contracts prototyping tool for a full range of Blockchain applications. Both platforms, however, remain fundamentally different in their architectures and market adoption. It remains to be seen what blockchain use cases and platforms are going to be adopted by masses. Scalability will be one of the decisive factors. 2018 is going to be a Blockchain year.”
Who will win the battle of the smart contracts? We will have to wait and see.