StarkWare launches $1M research fund for ZK Bitcoin scaling

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StarkWare’s fund seeks to promote research into OP_CAT and demonstrate its potential to unlock and benefit Bitcoin and the blockchain community in general.

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StarkWare launches $1M research fund for ZK Bitcoin scaling

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StarkWare has announced ambitious plans to bring mass use to Bitcoin using zero-knowledge (ZK) technology backed by a $1 million research fund.

The initiative seeks to scale Bitcoin and Ethereum simultaneously using ZK technology — specifically, Scalable Transparent Argument of Knowledge (STARK) cryptography.

“We aren’t Ethereum maxis; we are scaling maxis.”

StarkWare’s announcement aims to further Satoshi Nakamoto’s vision by enabling everyday micropayments and creating a scalable solution to support global Bitcoin (BTC) transactions.

Eli Ben-Sasson discussing the vision behind Bitcoin, the StarkWare research fund announcement and creating a globally inclusive economy. Source: StarkWare

Related: Are ZK-proofs the key to Europe’s new digital ID regulations?

Bringing ZK tech to Bitcoin

StarkWare CEO and cheat-proof ZK cryptography co-inventor Eli Ben-Sasson explained that “Bitcoin today is mighty, but still a fraction of what it can be” in a press release shared with Cointelegraph.

“Crypto can clean up the digital world and finance. It can deliver integrity to money and rebalance power in our society, taking it away from Big Tech and restoring it to sovereign individuals […] therefore, we need a vision that showcases this. No such vision is complete without scaling the chain that started this great project.”

Related: Matter Labs drops ZK trademark applications after industry backlash

StarkWare CEO Q&As

Speaking to Cointelegraph, Ben-Sasson spoke about the impact of deploying STARK scaling on Bitcoin:

“It’s about mass scale, period. Those enthusiastic about Bitcoin already know that the BTC vision is so great that it needs to spread, and the chain should be in mass use […] It’s about enabling Bitcoin, with all its values intact and loyal to Satoshi’s vision.”

The Bitcoin community is currently weighing up a technical proposal known as OP_CAT. If approved, it would open the door to potential STARK scaling on the BTC blockchain.

Ben-Sasson said that StarkWare supports OP_CAT because the team considers the OP_CAT Bitcoin soft fork “the safest path for Bitcoin to scale.”

Related: StarkWare ZKThreads solution could prevent fund lockups similar to FTX

The OP_CAT’s out of the bag

Speaking with Cointelegraph speculatively about the OP_CAT proposal, Ben-Sasson said:

“[If it isn’t approved], there are some solutions we’re exploring to deliver STARK scale without OP_CAT; I don’t want to say much about them now, but they could provide the basis of a workaround.”

When asking Ben-Sasson how quickly the tech could be rolled out for testing and mainstream use in the case of OP_CAT approval, he told Cointelegraph:

“Within six months of approval, quite possibly even quicker. Background — StarkWare got the very first L2, StarkEx, on Ethereum, and back then, it had sounded like science fiction.”

This latest announcement by StarkWare follows the firm’s recent introduction of the new scaling framework, dubbed ZKThreads.

According to Louis Guthmann, head of product/market strategy at StarkWare, the framework can prevent trapped funds and improve the scalability of decentralized applications. This could rule out a recurrence of the FTX-Alameda collapse.

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