Expert opinion

Interview Questions for IOV Labs CEO Daniel Fogg

In the rapidly evolving world of cryptocurrencies, IOV Labs is one of the startups at the forefront of transforming Bitcoin's network. Famed for its status as a store of value, Bitcoin has long been considered digital gold. But, according to CEO Daniel Fogg, IOV Labs seeks to expand Bitcoin's utility beyond just a store of value, leveraging its unparalleled hash power to support other use cases. 

In this exclusive interview, we sit down with Fogg to discuss the future of Bitcoin, the potential of Rootstock, the Rootstock Grant Program, and how they're working to build a new global economy on the foundation of decentralized finance.

  1. Please share your insights on why converting the Bitcoin network from being predominantly a store of value has been challenging.

Bitcoin's original design philosophy centered on simplicity and security, prioritizing its role as a digital currency and store of value. This deliberate approach limited its capacity for complex smart contracts, a cornerstone of a fully decentralized financial system. 

Satoshi Nakamoto always envisioned more for Bitcoin. In fact, he even posted on the BitcoinTalk Forums about the idea of a completely separate network and a separate block chain that shares the CPU power of Bitcoin. This concept inspired the founders to build the first Bitcoin sidechain, publish the Rootstock whitepaper in 2015, and launch the mainnet in 2018. 

Today, Rootstock is the home of DeFi on Bitcoin; providing users access to a range of financial services for lending, borrowing, sending, and saving. 

The understandably cautious nature of Bitcoin's development community, driven by a commitment to network security and stability, has also traditionally hindered progress and innovation. However, some exciting proposals in the works around drivechain (BIPs 300+301) could bring Rootstock closer to complete decentralization. This is something that we are excited about.” 

There’s still a general lack of understanding of the tremendous power of Bitcoin sidechains. Rootstock combines the interoperability and programmability of Ethereum with the security and store of value for Bitcoin all on one network while preserving the integrity of the Bitcoin main chain. The challenge today is as much about educating the world about the potential of Bitcoin sidechains as it is about improving the technical aspects of the network. 

  1. Some critics argue that Bitcoin's infrastructure is less conducive to development and innovation than other blockchains like Ethereum. What's your take on this?

That’s true, and that’s exactly how it should be. Rootstock was designed so Bitcoin could exist in its relatively pure form while allowing programmability, experimentation, and innovation to occur on a separate but cryptographically connected network. 

  1. The Rootstock Strategic Grants Program is quite the step towards fully leveraging the technology behind Bitcoin. How successful was the first wave of the program, and what exciting projects have you encountered so far?

“Both the Scaling Bitcoin Hackathon and Wave I of the Rootstock Strategic Grants Programme far exceeded our expectations in terms of interest. We are now in the final stage of judging for Wave I of the grants program and hope to be able to share some of the successful participants really soon. We’ve seen some exciting proposals, including a proposal to bring Taproot Assets to Rootstock and a concept to create more interoperability between different Bitcoin layer 2s rapidly. 

We received over 850 registrations for the Scaling Bitcoin Hackathon and announced the winners this week, many of which are now investigating how our grants programme could further fuel their projects. 

Those winners included RSK-NFT, a dApp that unlocks and amplifies the intrinsic value of non-fungible tokens, and Tuki, a self-custodial debit card designed to bridge the gap between crypto and traditional financial systems. 

Building on the success of the Scaling Bitcoin Hackathon, we are also supporting the Bitcoin Olympics Hackathon, where builders and developers can win part of a $100k prize pool by creating compelling products on Bitcoin using Rootstock and other BTC-aligned tech.”

  1. IOV Labs is now known for its work in making Bitcoin more accessible for fintech developers and founders. Could you elaborate on some solutions and tools your team has developed?

Our mission at IOV Labs is to provide the next generation of fintech innovators with the decentralized tools and technology to build a new global economy. 

We do this in many ways, from supporting the growth of Rootstock to working on other initiatives to educate and aid organizations in harnessing the power of distributed ledger technology to enhance the products and services they offer customers globally significantly.  

One of these initiatives was the development of RIF, a set of open-source protocols and software libraries that make it easier than ever to deploy dApps and web3 services secured by Bitcoin.

We also recently formed a dedicated team exclusively focused on Developer Experience. Their work developing tools and documentation makes it easier than ever for developers and founders to deploy new protocols on Rootstock. 

  1. Aside from the Grants program, what does IOV Labs provide to fintech developers and founders interested in building on Bitcoin with any other support?

Through our co-creation programme, we have started putting our best product managers, developers, and marketers in the service of some of the largest fintech companies in the developing world. Together with those partners, they are exploring what we call ‘Everyday DeFi’ use cases at a massive scale: equitable lending, inflation protection, and borderless payments. 

Billions of dollars of transactions are flowing through antiquated, slow, and expensive legacy financial systems. Through our co-creation programme, we are bringing those transactions into Rootstock. 

International remittances for cents, not dollars, easy access to stable currencies from any country globally, some of the best savings rates globally delivered through low-risk instruments, and the ability to borrow small amounts of money at reasonable rates. 

We have multiple pilots launching this year that are the product of our co-creation programme. And I am extremely excited about what we have seen so far. 

  1. There's a growing interest in DeFi applications built on Bitcoin. How does IOV Labs plan to facilitate this trend?

We have a major grants programme with $2.5M committed in FY2023. We also have a big focus on improving developer experience on Rootstock, from documentation to improvements in SDKs. This is hard but important work. We are putting some of our best product developers and engineers into co-creation projects with some of the world’s most innovative financial institutions. 

And we continue to advocate for the benefits of Rootstock as the best Bitcoin layer 2, for RIF as the scaling layer for Rootstock, and as Everyday DeFi as the biggest market opportunity for blockchain technology.

  1. Lastly, what future developments can we anticipate from IOV Labs in its mission to expand Bitcoin's functionality and accessibility for fintech developers and founders?

Watch this space! We have several exciting announcements coming up related to RIF, Rootstock, and Bitcoin.