Andrew Barisser of Assembly Coins makes strong arguments for building on top of the pure Bitcoin blockchain, rather than creating alternatives.
Recently he wrote an open letter to Reddit, where he argued that Reddit should stick to a pure Bitcoin blockchain approach to building their planned cryptocurrency initiative, rather than going sidewise with alternative approaches. Now, probably prompted from the recent news about the Medici stock exchange that is being developed with Counterparty technology, Barisser wrote a post to criticize Counterparty.
Barisser praises Counterparty’s “sophistication which unambiguously demonstrates the intelligence of its creators: very smart people who have ambitiously tackled difficult problems.”
Counterparty is “almost pure” Bitcoin, but Barisser remains wary of any deviations from pure Bitcoin:
“It is better to build in simple, minimalistic layers that are each very good at one thing. One feature is built upon another. Introduce assets. Build tools that send dividends in pure Bitcoin. Keep them separate and simple. The same functionality that Counterparty strives for could be better accomplished by separate, compatible layers.”
“For basically every aspect of Counterparty functionality, there is an equivalent solution in Colored Coins and in side-chains. It was never necessary to do everything at once. In attempting to do so, Counterparty introduced a deeply antithetical and unwanted element: a separate native currency, XCP.”
“Make it modular. Make it lightweight. Make it on Bitcoin, or a two-way sidechain linked to Bitcoin. Simply put, we can do better.”
I tend to agree with Barisser up to a degree. Recent developments (and less recent) show that the Bitcoin baseline can be extended to incorporate the best features found in next-generation Bitcoin 2.0 frameworks. I think staying within pure Bitcoin, instead of creating alternatives or even altcoins, is the elegant and solid way to go, provided that it can be done without compromising the Bitcoin 2.0 functionality or slowing down innovation.
Barisser has no doubts. Previously, he had written:
“Colored Coins  exists on the Bitcoin Blockchain and enjoys all the advantages therein. They are proveable. They are fluid. And they can represent anything.”
It’s, of course, understandable that Barisser favors the technical solutions that he is developing himself. The discussion of the pro and contra of each approach will certainly continue for quite some time. In the intense Reddit discussion that followed Barisser’s post, main Ethereum developer Vitalik Buterin admits that “Ethereum is not superior to [Colored Coins] in every possible way because it is not directly based on Bitcoin so doesn’t have as nice interoperability properties.” However, he argues for alternatives like Ethereum, and Counterparty:
“[F]or a decentralized exchange to work, orders must be enforceable, which means that the protocol needs to have the ability to move currency units around without users’ permission. This is basically the reason why Ethereum can’t work off of [Bitcoin], and applies equally well to Counterparty.”
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