While Ethereum (ETH) and Solana (SOL) are widely touted as the major blockchains for building on, a new upgrade called Taro will see the Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain become vastly more programmable, allowing developers to mint, send and receive assets on the Bitcoin network.
Released today by Bitcoin infrastructure builders Lightning Labs, the Taro upgrade will enable developers to issue tokens on the Bitcoin testnet, a separate public version of the Bitcoin blockchain designed specifically for devs to experiment on.
Taro is a Taproot-powered protocol, originally introduced in April. Following a successful integration, Taro will bring the fundamental elements of decentralised finance (DeFi) to the Bitcoin blockchain, while the Lightning Network, a Bitcoin Layer 2 solution, would then allow for those assets to be transferred at high volume with low fees.
According to Lightning Labs’ announcement, Taro marks a major step towards “Bitcoinizing” the dollar, officially opening the gates to Bitcoin-native stablecoin payments.
“With Taro and the incredible developer community, we can build a world where users have USD-denominated balances and BTC-denominated balances (or other assets) in the same wallet, trivially sending value across the Lightning Network just as they do today,” wrote Lightning Labs.
Head of Liquidity at Lightning Labs, Alex Bosworth added his thoughts on the Taro upgrade, claiming that even the nodes that don’t support the protocol would most likely see some benefit.
Lightning Labs added that Taro’s integration with the Lightning Network will be part of the next development phase. It will be enabled once Taproot channels are successfully merged with pre-existing infrastructure.
The Taproot upgrade, which was finalised in November last year, allowed for the implementation of smart contracts and development on top of the Bitcoin blockchain. Taproot is widely recognised as the most significant upgrade to Bitcoin since SegWit was activated in 2017.
Strike raises US$80 million to expand services
Earlier this week, Bitcoin payments provider Strike raised US$80 million in a Series B funding round led by Bitcoin-focused venture capital firm Ten31.
According to Strike’s announcement, the cash will go directly into expanding partnerships with merchants and institutions. Strike also operates on the Lightning Network.
Ten31 co-founder Grant Gilliam added his thoughts on the fundraise.
“We believe Strike is poised to disrupt the financial services and payments landscape, enabling a more efficient, innovative, and inclusive financial experience for everyone,” he said.
This news comes hot on the heels of Strike’s recent API integration with major ecommerce players, BlackHawk, NCR and Shopify, which allows for instant, final settlements without the transaction fees that come along with traditional institutions such as PayPal and Stripe.
The announcements have had seemingly little effect on the price of Bitcoin, which is currently changing hands for roughly US$19,500.
Much like the rest of the crypto economy and other risk assets, Bitcoin remains highly correlated with the S&P 500 and continues to react strongly to market pressures from external to the crypto industry. Most recently, escalating tensions with Russia and a bearish outlook on inflation and interest rates have seen the asset’s price suffer.