Expanding Bitcoin’s Potential: The ZetaChain Initiative Supported by Jane Street Capital

Despite dominating the crypto market, Bitcoin’s applications have been limited compared to other blockchains that enable a wide range of asset transfers, from financial products to video games.

For instance, Ethereum boasts nearly 6,000 monthly developers actively building on its network, as of October 1, according to data from Developer Report. In contrast, Bitcoin has just under 1,000 monthly developers.

California-based startup ZetaChain aims to address this disparity by integrating Bitcoin into the thriving decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem. Following its substantial $27 million Series A raise in August, the company has been actively forming partnerships to expand its blockchain network.

ZetaChain operates as a Layer 1 blockchain, allowing developers to build decentralized apps (dApps) and access other blockchains without relying on “bridges” or “wrapped coins,” popular solutions that address the challenge of interoperability across different networks in the crypto space.

Ankur Nandwani, a core contributor to ZetaChain, highlights one of the platform’s key innovations—enabling developers to deploy smart contracts on the blockchain that can interact with native Bitcoin, effectively adding a smart contract layer to Bitcoin. Smart contracts, initially introduced by Ethereum, are lines of code that execute based on predefined rules and have given rise to various applications, including non-fungible tokens.

“Every blockchain is like an isolated state, and we are connecting them,” explained Nandwani in an interview with TechCrunch. “Most people use Bitcoin as gold. If you can borrow against gold, you should be able to do the same with Bitcoin.”

Today, ZetaChain announced the addition of native Bitcoin support to decentralized exchange (DEX) Sushi, enabling users to swap Bitcoin across 30 networks. Sushi achieves this by deploying its Ethereum virtual machine (EVM)-compatible smart contract on ZetaChain, allowing seamless support for native Bitcoins with minimal adjustments.

These Sushi smart contracts can be accessed directly from the Bitcoin network, eliminating the need for Bitcoin users to leave their network.

“This enhancement is not just about increased liquidity from Bitcoin; it marks the beginning of a new chapter in DeFi, one where we witness more practical use cases of interoperability and improved connectivity,” commented Sushi’s “head chef” Jared Grey.

In October, ZetaChain integrated with OKX’s self-custodial wallet, enabling users to access dApps on various networks and utilize their Bitcoins in dApps without the necessity of wrapping or bridging from the Bitcoin network itself.

Founded in 2021 by serial entrepreneur Nandwani, ZetaChain secured its Series A funding round in August, with investors from diverse backgrounds including quantitative trading firm Jane Street Capital, crypto exchange Blockchain.com, and China-focused early-stage VC firm Sky9.

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