Announcing the Metaxy Testnet and Bitcoin Sidechain

Nov 22, 2019

We are proud to announce the release of Echo’s newest testnet version 0.13, the Metaxy network! Metaxy is the Greek word for “between”, as this testnet is the first version to support the bridge between Bitcoin and Echo. This is a huge milestone for the team and marks the full set of features planned for Echo’s mainnet release.

What’s new in this release?

  • New sidechain support for Bitcoin
  • Updated sidechain mechanism for Ethereum and ERC-20 assets
  • Protocol Optimizations
  • Token economics and fee adjustments
  • Node Account Configuration
  • Updated EVM and Solidity support (up to and including version 0.5.11)
  • View the full release notes

The most exciting part of this release is full sidechain support for Bitcoin. Sidechains are a mechanism that allows users to transfer cryptocurrencies to and from other blockchains. The Echo sidechain extends the existing functionality of Bitcoin by enabling the development of more complex smart contracts without needing to make any changes to the main Bitcoin blockchain. Through this pegged sidechain, users can deposit or transfer BTC onto the Echo network, where it is transformed into Echo BTC (eBTC), which can be used to send payments, interact with smart contracts, or even as collateral for decentralized finance (“DeFi”) applications. At any time, the user can transfer the eBTC back to the Bitcoin network and receive an on-chain, layer 1 BTC transaction.

This first iteration of the Echo sidechain is an improvement on existing sidechain approaches built by RSK and Liquid, but is still just the first step in the plan to create a truly permissionless sidechain. The current sidechain is operated by a committee of elected network participants who have voting rights to accept/reject network events (incoming transactions, transfer events, membership changes, etc.) All events require a 2/3 approval from the committee, meaning no committee member can make decisions independently. You can read the whitepaper describing the current sidechain implementation here. Support for the sidechains within Echo wallets will be available within the coming weeks.

The next iteration of the Echo sidechain will minimize the trust required in the committee members by using the ECHO PoWR consensus mechanism and threshold signatures to randomly select committee members on a rotating basis. This means committee members will be changing frequently and selected from a random pool, therefore significantly reducing the risk of collusion among committee members.

For more information on the 0.13 release, check out the documentation here

Note: We are currently waiting for awaiting approval from the app store to make the mobile wallet compatible with the new testnet. We will post in our community channels when the update is available. For now, feel free to use the chrome extension wallet.

Join us on this journey to build new use cases and applications with Bitcoin. Get involved and learn more by:

Team Echo

Echo is a network for creating sovereign, decentralized applications that work with Bitcoin. With Echo, developers can build a wide range of applications and smart contracts that integrate Bitcoin.