Introducing Echo

Sep 10, 2019

As Bitcoin and the broader cryptocurrency ecosystem continue to mature, it’s becoming increasingly clear that public blockchains will replace today’s financial infrastructure with networks that are more open, programmatic, and sovereign. While Bitcoin has begun to reach scale as a global store of value, its use is still often siloed in centralized services that expose users to the risk of a trusted third party, like exchanges and custodians. To minimize this risk, developers and entrepreneurs have long sought to use Bitcoin in more expressive smart contracts that would enable users to access a variety of financial services, while remaining in control of their value at all times. Innovation has been strong to date, but still lags the true potential of Bitcoin-backed financial applications. That’s why we’re building Echo: a network for creating sovereign, decentralized applications that work with Bitcoin. With Echo, developers will be able to build a wide range of applications that integrate Bitcoin, helping usher in a new era of usability for the world’s first cryptocurrency.

Why Integrate Bitcoin

Bitcoin is the value layer that the internet has always needed. And today, Bitcoin is stronger than ever.

  • $1 billion has cumulatively been paid in transaction fees
  • The average cost basis of all Bitcoin holders is approximately $100 billion
  • The market value of all outstanding bitcoins is approximately $185 billion
  • The Bitcoin network has settled roughly $2 trillion worth of transactions
  • The Bitcoin network miners collectively produce 100 exahashes per second (that’s 10^20 hashes).
  • Bitcoin dominance is above 70% and growing

Since the early days of Bitcoin, the users have searched for ways to "do more" with their Bitcoin. And this has led to a Cambrian explosion of technologies, applications, and even Bitcoin competitors. In particular, the interest in building complex applications that could be as decentralized and unstoppable as the Bitcoin network has grown ever since Nick Szabo coined the term "smart contracts" in 1994. And because of Bitcoin's purposefully limited scripting language and the widespread consensus required to make a protocol change (involving miners, developers, and users), that vision has been pursued on platforms like Omni, Mastercoin, RSK, colored coins, and eventually spawned a whole set of smart contract protocols like Ethereum.

Yet as developers have built these next-generation smart contract platforms (and raised billions of dollars of funding in the process), each of these platforms has created its own currency. From ETH to EOS and beyond, the excitement and speculative demand for these platforms have led to a monetary premium beyond the fees needed to run the network and today these currencies are used as a store of value or a medium of exchange by their various communities.

At Echo, we don't want to try to create a better currency or store of value than Bitcoin. Instead, we're focused on allowing people to do more with their Bitcoin. Rather than trying to build a userbase from scratch, we want to tap into the userbase and liquidity of Bitcoin to give the tens of millions of Bitcoin holders the ability to use new types of applications.

Echo's History

Echo was originally started as a research and development program by the team at Pixelplex, a leading international blockchain development company. Pixelplex began building smart contract protocols in 2014, working on BitShares and Graphene to develop the first delegated proof of stake (dPoS) blockchain. Since 2014, Pixelplex has contributed to the development of several other learning smart contract platforms, including Qtum and Vechain and worked with some of the brightest technical minds in the space. As a 100+ strong development team, Pixelplex saw the opportunity for building a developer-friendly network that could work with, rather than compete against Bitcoin. Since 2017, Pixelplex's team has been developing the infrastructure, tooling, wallets, and documentation for the Echo network.

Build with Echo

With Echo, developers can build smart contracts with Solidity and tools they're already familiar with from the Ethereum ecosystem. They can also leverage the power of Echo's cutting-edge x64 virtual machine to build complex applications using higher-level languages such as C++, Python, Go and Rust. This virtual machine unlocks the world of smart contract development to millions of new developers who don't have a background with blockchain programming. Developer and users alike will benefit from the Echo PoWR consensus mechanism, which provides the best balance of performance and decentralization properties.

But critically, Echo allows anyone to use a decentralized application with Bitcoin - no new tokens required. Simply transfer BTC to an Echo-compatible wallet, and you're able to use a new ecosystem of apps (even pay transaction fees in BTC!). And for developers, this means you can build apps that hold, transact in, and escrow BTC:

  • Stablecoins collateralized in BTC
  • Decentralized exchanges that trade BTC
  • Asset issuance
  • BTC derivatives
  • DAOs that manage BTC portfolios
  • Suggest an idea on Discord
Overall, we want Echo to be the engine that enables people to earn Bitcoin by adding value to the digital economy.

If smart contracts serve as the digital equivalent of a "legal system", a common framework for people to work together, coordinate, and transact - Echo is a new layer for Bitcoin users to interact. With Echo, developers can focus on building permissionless applications that enable users to coordinate and earn Bitcoin. Curation markets for signaling of topics and content, bounties for digital services, decentralized reputation systems, prediction markets, DAOs, DEXs, etc. are all highly intriguing experiments happening on other blockchains that could benefit from the liquidity, trust, and user base of Bitcoin as their native monetary backbone.

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.