Proof-Of-Stake On Bitcoin? Discussing Botanix’s Spiderchains

In a recent interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Shinobi sat down with Willem Schroé from Botanix Labs to discuss the progress and vision behind Spiderchains, an innovative scaling solution soon to be released to the public. Despite the flurry of attention surrounding other layer solutions like BitVM and rollups, the team at Botanix has been steadily laying out the groundwork for a distributed network capable of supporting 10,000 nodes, leveraging a unique combination of multisig and proof-of-stake (PoS) mechanisms.

Design Overview

Schroé describes Spiderchains as a decentralized network of multisigs, similar in concept to the Lightning Network but using a different architecture. “If you start with this idea of a multisig, but then think bigger…you will generate one multisig, a bigger multisig, then a frost multisig of 100 random members.”

This decentralized network of multisigs forms the backbone of Spiderchain, ensuring the security of the assets deposited to the platform. Spiderchain uses the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) as an execution environment and secures it using a novel PoS mechanism, enhancing the network’s security and decentralization. The design aims to address issues commonly associated with other layer 2 solutions, particularly those on Ethereum, which often suffer from centralization and security vulnerabilities. The architecture of Spiderchain prioritizes decentralization and security through its unique integration of multisig and PoS mechanisms.

Combining Proof of Stake and Proof of Work

Building a PoS consensus layer on top of Bitcoin’s proof of work (PoW) system addresses many issues inherent in pure PoS systems. Willem, once a “proof of work maximalist,” explained the benefits of this hybrid approach. The combination of PoS and PoW also solves security concerns related to randomization and finality. This integration allows Spiderchain to inherit the finality of Bitcoin, further strengthening its security model.

By using Bitcoin’s block hash for randomization, Spiderchain ensures a secure and reliable method for selecting validators, thus enhancing the overall stability and security of the network. Schroé pointed out that this unique approach resolves many of the centralization and security issues that typically plague pure PoS systems.

Security and Forward Security

One of the standout features of Spiderchain is its forward security, a concept borrowed from encryption. Forward security means that even if a key is compromised, it cannot be used to decrypt previous transactions, enhancing the overall security framework of the network. This feature ensures that historical transaction data remains secure even if future keys are exposed. The protocol achieves this by frequently rotating keys and using unique keys for each transaction, preventing any single point of failure from compromising the entire chain’s security.

“When you think about the roadmaps of different rollups, at some point for upgradability, you’ll have to introduce a time delay. But even with a time delay, let’s say you have a two-week time delay or a 30-day time delay, after those 30 days, an attacker still knows exactly that he’ll be able to steal the funds. With forward security, that’s a big unknown.”

This approach not only protects past transactions but also bolsters trust in the network’s resilience against potential attacks.

Slashing and Capital Efficiency

Spiderchain also implements slashing rules to penalize malicious stakers, further securing the network. This robust mechanism ensures that any malicious actions are promptly and effectively addressed. Moreover, the design of provides capital efficiency and decentralized ownership. Unlike other layer 2 solutions that rely on a single smart contract with a large amount of funds, Spiderchain distributes the risk across multiple multisigs. “You no longer have that honeypot, you also have suddenly like decentralized ownership. There’s no single party that can own that whole thing,” Schroé emphasized. This design also allows for greater participation and security, making it a significant improvement over existing models.

Progress and Vision

Willem acknowledged the complexity of building on Bitcoin, even with recent advancements. He emphasized Botanix Labs’ dedication to the project and their focus on moving from white paper concepts to a fully functional product. “There’s a lot to be built. It’s not easy to actually build to go from that white paper to actually to a working product. And so we’ve been heads down, we’ve been building,” he explained.

Looking ahead, Willem shared the exciting news that the federated sidechain of Spiderchain is expected to go live soon. “We’ve implemented the bigger Frost Multisigs, we’ve built the initial federation. We will start with a federated sidechain and basically build out from there.” he announced.

Botanix’s Spiderchain has been live on testnet since November and has already processed over one million transactions.