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The Quest for Layer 1 Scaling: A Tale of Ambition and Reality

In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a king who was punished by the gods for his hubris to eternally roll a boulder up a hill, only for it to roll back down each time he neared the top.

The pursuit of Bitcoin scalability has become a sort of Sisyphean task.

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In our hubris, many of us thought we could outsmart Satoshi Nakamoto, the vision of Bitcoin, and many fundamentals of computer science and human nature. Instead, we have fractured Bitcoin into several variants, spawned thousands of bastardized altcoins and millions of confused players in the blockchain economy who don’t even know what Bitcoin was for or what it was capable of.

So, we persist in trying to drag Bitcoin uphill and show the world what it can do.

The dream of achieving a million transactions per second (TPS) on a proof-of-work (PoW) layer 1 blockchain is now so often dismissed as fanciful, if not outright impossible by today’s intelligentsia, influencers and common users. Critics argue that PoW is inherently slow and better suited as a store of value, while proof-of-stake (PoS) and its variants are touted as the faster, more practical alternatives.

Yet, amidst this skepticism and the prevailing narrative of limitation, there remains a beacon of ambition: BSV.

The BSV blockchain is simply an unbounded implementation of the original Bitcoin protocol; imperfect but striving for greatness abandoned by everyone who just wanted to make a quick dollar on speculation based on hype, bubbles and influence.

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The skepticism surrounding PoW scaling

The skepticism toward PoW scaling is not completely unfounded. Historically, the major PoW chains have struggled to handle high transaction volumes. The infamous CryptoKitties incident on Ethereum and the persistent congestion issues on BTC are cited as evidence that PoW cannot support large-scale, real-world applications. As a result, many in the blockchain community have shifted their focus to PoS, sidechains and layer 2 solutions, conceding that layer 1 scaling on PoW is an unattainable goal while spending billions of dollars on boondoggle technobabble “solutions” full of bubble gum and popsicle sticks.

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However, this widespread resignation is deeply premature. In fact, I’d argue that the proliferation of the idea that “Bitcoin doesn’t scale” is malicious, but that’s been covered plenty of times in the past. PoW is not a limiting factor for scalability as the consensus mechanism has nothing to do with scalability of the network or the database!

A blockchain must be ready to serve millions of users from the outset. This is not just rhetoric; it’s essential knowledge. If a blockchain is not prepared for massive adoption, it will never achieve it. The potential applications are vast: national record-keeping, daily digital cash, tokenized healthcare data, global shipping manifests and even tokenized stock markets. These are not hypothetical scenarios but real possibilities that require robust, scalable solutions, and the craziest part is there are potentially billions of dollars worth of value that could be freed up by the entrepreneurs who solve these problems!

The reality of BSV’s struggle

In the BSV space, there has been a long season of grandiose technical claims met with limited success. The journey to achieve seriously big numbers has been slow and fraught with challenges on both social and technical fronts.

This isn’t to disparage. BSV holds several world records for incredible amounts of transaction volume, and the culture among builders is some of the healthiest in the blockchain economy.

But many of us in the space have aimed a lot higher than we can deliver to date, and lots of promising projects have failed to deliver. This can largely be blamed on start-up culture or the politics in the blockchain space, but I think it is also indicative of too many people in BSV simply hoping to ride the coattails of speculation about Satoshi Nakamoto’s identity and other outside gambles that have detracted from technical and business development.

That being said, the technical development never ceased, and about five years on, we are about to make good on the promises that we have all been making.

The vision is now becoming clear: we really can implement a blockchain capable of handling real-world commerce on a global scale.

Missed opportunities

Remember CryptoKitties? Remember NBA Top Shot? These should both have been built on Bitcoin and become massive successes. But there was a civil war fought instead, and both are relegated to small niche communities on separate blockchains, unable to interact or create fractal value with each other because they are stuck in uncooperating databases.

Consider now the announcement by BlackRock to tokenize the American stock market and trade in Texas. Despite the fanfare, there is no decentralized tool robust enough to facilitate this, which is absolutely outrageous!

Meanwhile, blockchains like Solana are preoccupied with providing platforms for memecoins and celebrity endorsements, ignoring the pressing need for a scalable, practical solution for real-world commerce. Why is nobody else trying to make this work?!

Enter BSV: The beacon of hope

This is where the BSV economy steps in, and the Association (BSVA) lends a big helping hand.

The BSVA has undergone a transformation under the management of Cyrille Albrecht. In years past, the Association had something of an unclear mandate in that it existed to promote the protocol and startups, and act as a neutral third party on various issues. “BA” members and ambassadors participated in events and worked on some interesting projects, but it was always unclear to me if the juice was worth the squeeze.

In the last year or so, BSVA has been redefined to work tirelessly to define and professionalize the protocol, upgrade the legal framework, standardize communications protocols, and develop robust tooling for on-chain applications. Coming from a place of experience with the new BSVA, it has been truly refreshing (and in some cases inspiring) to work alongside their teams on truly fruitful projects.

In the next twelve months, BSV aims to become the first public blockchain capable of achieving a million TPS. This ambitious goal is driven by several key developments:

  1. Teranode: A revolutionary node architecture designed to handle unprecedented transaction volumes.
  2. sCrypt: Enabling complex on-chain contracts to be created efficiently.
  3. Standardized Overlay Network Logic: Ensuring seamless communication and transaction processing.
  4. SPV Wallet: A specific overlay network designed to allow safe, instant transactions to occur globally at any scale. 
  5. Robust Tooling for On-Chain Development: Facilitating rapid onboarding of entrepreneurs and developers to use the full potential of the network in rapid deployment.

These advancements are not the result of top-down mandates but rather a collaborative effort within the BSV economy. Project Babbage, GorillaPool and sCrypt are independently developing and maintaining the Typescript, GoLang and Python libraries, respectively, working in harmony with the BSVA leadership, and other teams are working on various tooling across the rest of the economy to truly scale.

This collaborative spirit has ushered in a productive era in the BSV ecosystem, characterized by innovation and a shared commitment to solving real world problems of money, payments and data integrity.

The urgency of scaling

The urgency of achieving this level of scalability cannot be overstated.

If Bitcoin is to fulfill its original vision of electronic cash, it must be ready for mass adoption at any moment. Delaying the development of scalable solutions until they are needed is a recipe for failure. The window of opportunity is narrow, and the blockchain that can seize it will shape the future of digital commerce.

In reflecting on the journey of BSV and the broader blockchain landscape, I cannot help but feel a sense of urgency. The dream of a truly scalable blockchain is not a mere fantasy; it is a necessity for realizing the full potential of this technology, and it is a massive opportunity to profit by providing solutions to the real economy.

WE NEED TO SCALE FIRST!

The work being done by the BSVA and its partners represents, possibly, the last, best hope for achieving this vision.

As imperfect as we are, and with the scars of battle forcing us all to compromise on the terms of victory, I am honored to be part of this opportunity!

As we stand on the cusp of a new era in blockchain technology, it is crucial to remain focused on the ultimate goal: creating a platform that can support real-world commerce on a global scale. The path is fraught with challenges, but the potential rewards are immense. In the end, the success or failure of BSV will serve as a litmus test for the viability of any and all blockchains as a transformative technology.

In the words of those who continue to push the boundaries of what is possible: if we build it, they will come. And if we fail, it will not be for lack of trying but because the dream itself was not meant to be.

Until then, the quest for a million TPS on a layer 1 PoW blockchain remains the ultimate challenge and the ultimate goal, and I really do think we are going to get there first!

Watch: Teranode & the Web3 world with edge-to-edge electronic value system

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