What is BTP and why is it so great that ICON BTP 1.0 launch has been announced?
Recently, the ICON BTP 1.0 launch was announced. In this article, we’d like to take you through the ins and outs of BTP 1.0 and why it’s so great. But first, what is the reason behind implementing a Blockchain Transmission Protocol (BTP)?
The ICON Network’s goal is to “hyper connect the world” through blockchain technology. And with doing so, the concept of interoperability arizes. This is where the Blockchain Transmission Protocol (BTP) comes in. As the ICON Foundation puts it: “To realize blockchain’s full potential, we want distinct protocols to have compatible ways to interact and communicate with each other, and the ability to interoperate at the protocol level.”. Which is why they have developed BTP.
🧐 What is BTP?
The Blockchain Transmission Protocol is a standard that aims to achieve interoperability in blockchains. Those would include different types of blockchains with various consensus models and algorithms. Interoperability refers to the ability of different types of computer systems to exchange information. In the blockchain, interoperability means the possibility for different protocols to exchange data, value, and make use of it. It involves transferring on and off-chain assets and ensuring consistency between systems, which has been a significant challenge in the community.
The importance of interoperability is that blockchain technologies’ success will eventually come down to how different blockchain networks are able to communicate and integrate with each other and off-chain networks. Furthermore, it will also help to eliminate intermediaries or other third parties. BTP makes transfers from one chain to another without using a centralized platform possible through smart contracts.
The ICON Foundation gives the practical example of the ICONLOOP enterprise partners, such as MyID applications. Decentralized ID data in MyID is verified on the ICON Network, allowing its owners to exchange messages to a public or private network that is connected via BTP, without having to resubmit their document and public key to each chain. The image below illustrates this concept.
- 👉 For more information on blockchain interoperability, click here.
Before the announcement of BTP 1.0, ICON’s first efforts were focussed on BTP version 0.5. A BTP is a set of standard rules that makes it possible for users and smart contract to communicate with other blockchains. The 0.5 version utilized record event message on the source blockchain and they relayed it to the destination blockchain.
This means if a sender on “Blockchain X” likes to transfer digital assets to a receiver on “Blockchain Y”, a pair of token SCOREs (Smart Contract on Reliable Environment) needs to be deployed, one for each blockchain. The sender then sends a transaction to the token score on “Blockchain X”, the token score includes an identifier for the destination blockchain, address of the receiver and the amount to be sent. When this is received, the token score on Blockchain X records all the data as a BTP message. A relayer (a specific server that looks for BTP messages) finds the message, forwards it to the blockchain that it corresponds with. And then, finally, the receiver will receive the content of the BTP message and collect the number of digital assets sent by the “Sender”. Now, BTP 1.0 builds further on this concept, in the hope of being able to commercialize it.
So, what are the building blocks of this BTP? And how does participation work?
The design of ICON’s BTP allows both full participation and partial participation. Because of its flexible design, blockchains that do not support smart contracts (yet), can still partially participate in BTP transactions. In these cases, the blockchain would participate as a sender only, however, and cannot receive anything.
When it comes to full participation, the sender blockchain needs to have block finality and the participating blockchains must support smart contract capability. Block finality refers to the affirmation that all well-formed blocks can’t be revoked once committed to the blockchain. In the case of BTP, finality means that the blockchain that functions as the sender needs to reach finality and transmit irreversible results to the receiving blockchain, which are then verified through smart contracts. Blockchains need to implement one of the below-listed components using smart contracts, to allow a fully-fledged BTP:
- BTP Message Center to build BTP messages and pass to a Relay for message delivery,
- BTP Message Verifier to verify and decode the message received from a Relay to BTP Messages.
- BTP Service Handler to deliver BTP messages to service smart contracts.
The building blocks of BTP makes it possible to transmit data and preserve its integrity and validity. The sender and receiver need to comply with the BTP standards and functions defined by the ICON Foundation. Those are:
- Message specifications — all messages should include sender, recipient, service name, service data, and serial number.
- Message relayers — this refers to the application to examine and deliver BTP messages between blockchain. It always needs to be independent of any of the blockchains.
- Message verifies — these work as validators for the data that is collected by the message relayers.
- Service Smart Contracts, as referred to above, verified BTP messages are delivered to the Service Smart Contract so the transaction from the sender blockchain’s smart contract can be completed in the recipient blockchain’s smart contract.
If you haven’t yet, check out the video below for an interoperability BTP demo from the ICON Foundation.
At Stakin, we are more than excited to see that ICON’s BTP is launching. We’ve been supporting the ICON project as a Main P-Rep since decentralization, as we believe that the future of blockchain lies in Proof-of-Stake and Interoperability. ICON will know have both of these critical features. With ICONLOOP and its network of Enterprise partners, it now has all the relevant cards to become a leading option when building a Dapp or connecting a blockchain.
DISCLAIMER: This is not financial advice. Staking, delegation, and cryptocurrencies involve a high degree of risk, and there is always the possibility of loss, including the loss of all staked digital assets. Additionally, delegators are at risk of slashing in case of security or liveness faults on some protocols. We advise you to do your due diligence before choosing a validator.