sCrypt and Smart Contracts – the Perfect Match

July 8, 2024

We recently sat down with Xiaohui Liu, the founder and CEO of sCrypt, to ask a few questions about his company, products and approach to developing smart contracts. 

Xiaohui is a former Research Scientist at Facebook, where he conducted fundamental research to make internet access available worldwide. He also holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science, specialising in peer-to-peer distributed networking. 

sCrypt is a UTXO-blockchain development platform that offers a suite of tools and infrastructure to enhance and accelerate the development process of decentralised applications (dApps). It provides a rich set of APIs and software development kits (SDKs) that simplify blockchain interactions, such as querying blockchain data, sending transactions, issuing tokens, and developing smart contracts. It specialises in UTXO blockchains and supports multiple of them, such as Bitcoin and Bitcoin SV. 

For context, Tokenovate has a growing library of sophisticated smart contract types. In theory, we could build these by assembling the opcode primitives of Bitcoin Script from the ground up, but sCrypt enables us to develop them at a higher level, which is faster, less error-prone, and achievable by a wider pool of developers, which has a direct impact on our ability to scale.

Hello Xiaohui – how are you?

Very well, thanks. All good here in Silicon Valley! 

In a nutshell, what is the role of sCrypt?

Most blockchain development activities happen on account-based chains like Ethereum and Solana. Contrary to popular belief, UTXO chains like Bitcoin are also programmable and scalable. sCrypt makes it easier for builders to develop on UTXO-based blockchains, by providing APIs and SDKs to simplify their work and accelerate development.

What is smart about Smart Contracts?

It is smart in the sense that the contract code is public, transparent and immutable. Everyone can view it on a public blockchain and can be confident it will execute as its code specifies. Trustless.

Why TypeScript? A language without loop constructs would be truer to the script it generates, for example.

sCrypt allows developers to use TypeScript to write smart contracts. It is a superset of JavaScript, the most popular programming language in the world. TypeScript adds optional static types to JavaScript, allowing for early error detection and improved code quality, which are essential and paramount to smart contracts that deal with real value assets. Using TypeScript enables millions of Web2 developers to reuse their knowledge to develop on Bitcoin.

sCrypt uses a strict subset of TypeScript that disallows unbounded loops.

The reintroduction of OP_CAT is a big thing in the world of BTC these days – what is significant about OP_CAT? Will this bring BTC on a par with BSV?

OP_CAT is a simple opcode in the original Bitcoin. Despite its simplicity, it enables many types of smart contracts that were impossible before, such as covenants, vaults, and Merkle proofs. It opens up a wide range of use cases.

It will bring BTC one step closer to the capabilities of BSV, but still much less powerful since many other opcodes remain disabled on BTC, such as OP_MUL.

What’s the most ingenious sCrypt-built Smart Contract you’ve come across so far? 

Zero-knowledge proof (ZKP). ZKP is regarded as the most sophisticated smart contracts on the market across all blockchains. By implementing ZKP in sCrypt on UTXO-chains, we demonstrate they are at least as expressive and powerful as account-based chains like Ethereum.

Is it better that the world has one dominant blockchain, or that we have multiple blockchains?

One dominant chain is better than multiple ones in the long term, due to network effects. One global internet is better than multiple incompatible intranets. In the short term, many blockchains are expected to coexist and compete to be the dominant one.

If you could change one thing about Bitcoin Script, what would it be?

Make numbers big-endian, instead of little-endian, to be consistent with numbers elsewhere in Bitcoin such as in digital signatures. Also use prevalent 2’s complement, not signed magnitude. Easier to work with, especially when converting from bytes.

The sCrypt blog is a goldmine of blockchain, smart contract and cryptography wisdom – is there anything in there that you feel has been underutilised?

Use smart contracts to securely store bitcoins (called Account Abstraction in Ethereum): turn every smart phone into a hardware wallet and non-custodial vaults

Use tokens to represent Real-World Assets (like bonds, insurances, and options) and then use smart contracts to manage and trade them more efficiently. Tokenovate is a trailblazer in applying blockchain to derivatives. Other RWAs are worth disrupting as well. RWAs are more sensible than tokens issued out of thin air and backed by nothing.

AI was one of the big themes at the London Blockchain Conference this year. It’s clearly an area of rapid progress – what smart things do you see at the intersection of AI and blockchain?

We can definitely use AI to help developers to build on chain apps. For example, we have used customised ChatGPT to guide developers to program sCrypt contracts.

Finally, make a prediction – where will we be with all this in two years’ time?

Bitcoin compatible blockchains will be within the top 3 chains where developers want to build their apps on.

Thank you, Xiaohui! 

To learn more about sCrypt, as well as read their very detailed technical blog posts, visit sCrypt’s website. Connect with Xiaohui on LinkedIn.

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