Date - Cryptocurrency X Webflow Template
April 17, 2024
Reading Time - Cryptocurrency X Webflow Template
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 min read

An Overview of wBTC and dlcBTC Merchant Networks

Discover the key differences between wBTC and dlcBTC merchant networks. Learn how dlcBTC's decentralized method improves efficiency, security, and affordability for bridging Bitcoin to Ethereum.

An Overview of wBTC and dlcBTC Merchant Networks

Key Takeaways

  • The wBTC merchant network operates on a centralized model with custody managed by BitGo, whereas the dlcBTC merchant network introduces a decentralized system utilizing DLCs for self-custody.
  • The dlcBTC merchant system significantly outpaces wBTC in minting speed, leveraging smart contracts for a process that's 3-10 times faster, enhancing liquidity and user experience.
  • dlcBTC's non-custodial nature translates into lower operational costs, making transactions 25%-50% cheaper than those in the wBTC system, offering economic advantages to users and merchants alike.
  • wBTC's reliance on centralized custody by BitGo poses potential regulatory challenges, while dlcBTC's decentralized approach minimizes such concerns, offering a more flexible and accessible solution for the DeFi space.
  • By eliminating central points of failure and leveraging advanced cryptography, the dlcBTC merchant network offers a more secure solution, aligning with the core principles of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

In the dynamic world of decentralized finance (DeFi), converting Bitcoin (BTC) into a liquid, Ethereum-compatible token is a pivotal innovation in ensuring cross-chain value transfer. Merchants, playing a crucial role, navigate the complexities of minting and burning wrapped tokens, thus bridging two leading blockchains seamlessly. Wrapped Bitcoin (wBTC) and its innovative counterpart, Discreet Log Contract Bitcoin (dlcBTC), stand at the forefront of this intersection, facilitating Bitcoin's entry into Ethereum's DeFi ecosystem.

While wBTC relies on a traditional, centralized model involving custodians, dlcBTC introduces a ground-breaking self-custodial approach through Discreet Log Contracts (DLC). This article embarks on a comparative journey, dissecting the mechanisms behind wBTC and dlcBTC merchant networks, their economic models, and the efficiencies they bring to the DeFi landscape. Our exploration aims to unveil the strategic merits of dlcBTC, especially in enhancing efficiency, security, and cost-effectiveness, thereby offering a fresh perspective on the future of wrapped Bitcoin.

wBTC Merchant System

The wBTC merchant system operates through a consortium of licensed entities comprising 15 to 20 companies, each authorized by the wBTC Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO). The DAO members include BitGo, Maker, Kyber, Gnosis, The Ocean, DDEX, Nuo, Blockfolio, GOPAX, Loopring, AirSwap, Set Protocol, Compound, Prycto, and AAVE. 

The members are the backbone of wBTC's operations, ensuring a regulated and secure environment for wrapping BTC into wBTC. Central to this system is the custody service provided by BitGo, a trusted digital asset custody service. Merchants send their BTC collateral to BitGo, which, upon verification, issues wBTC tokens to the merchants in a process akin to minting.

Merchants in the wBTC network act as wholesalers, engaging in large Over-The-Counter (OTC) trades with exchanges and funds, facilitating the distribution of wBTC. These exchanges, serving as the retail layer, offer wBTC to the broader market, thus enabling retail investors to access BTC's value within the Ethereum ecosystem. The economic model revolves around trading fees merchants earn when selling wBTC on exchanges and swap fees incurred by retail buyers, creating a revenue-generating cycle that sustains the wBTC ecosystem.

The reliance on BitGo to manage the custody and minting of wBTC tokens introduces elements of centralization into a space that fundamentally values decentralization. Centralized custody solutions, while providing a certain level of trust and reliability, also present a single point of failure. Concentrating assets under one custodian increases the risk of security breaches, operational errors, and potential insolvency.

Moreover, regulatory implications loom as BitGo must navigate complex legal frameworks across different jurisdictions. Compliance with these regulations can impose additional constraints on the operation and accessibility of wBTC, potentially limiting its adoption and integration into the global DeFi landscape. These challenges underscore the need for a balance between innovation in tokenization and the foundational principles of decentralization and security that underpin the crypto domain.

dlcBTC Merchant System

The dlcBTC merchant system is a forward step in wrapping Bitcoin, addressing the centralization and custody concerns associated with its predecessor, wBTC. Unlike wBTC, dlcBTC introduces a decentralized approach, enabling merchants to lock BTC in Discreet Log Contracts (DLCs). This ground-breaking shift enhances the security and efficiency of the minting process and dramatically reduces the costs and regulatory complexities often encountered in traditional custodial services.

Leveraging the existing infrastructure and experience of wBTC merchants, such as Amber Group, Galaxy and others, dlcBTC aims to streamline the transition towards a more decentralized and autonomous system. The minting process, though conceptually similar to that of wBTC, is vastly improved through the use of Ethereum smart contracts. These contracts facilitate a quicker, more transparent, and efficient token issuance process, cutting down the minting time to a fraction of what is required in the wBTC system.

Economically, dlcBTC offers a more attractive model for both merchants and users. The absence of a central custodian and the associated costs translate into lower fees for minting and burning tokens, making dlcBTC transactions 25%-50% cheaper than wBTC. Furthermore, the enhanced speed of minting—being 3 to 10 times faster than wBTC—augments the liquidity and accessibility of dlcBTC in the DeFi ecosystem, offering significant advantages in terms of transaction throughput and user experience.

In essence, the dlcBTC merchant system encapsulates the true spirit of decentralization sought by the Bitcoin community. By mitigating the risks and limitations inherent in centralized custody and streamlining the minting process, dlcBTC not only broadens the appeal of wrapped Bitcoin but also sets a new standard for efficiency, security, and cost-effectiveness in the DeFi space.

Key Differences Between wBTC and dlcBTC Merchant Systems 

Feature wBTC Merchant Network dlcBTC Merchant Network
Custody model Centralized custody by BitGo Decentralized model that allows merchants to self-lock the BTC collateral.
Minting process Partially automated, making the process time-consuming Fully automated, making it 3-10 times faster than wBTC.
Regulatory implications Potentially higher due to centralized custody and financial regulations. Minimal regulatory issues by avoiding centralized custody.
Fees The management of BTC reserves by BitGo introduces additional fees, such as vault fees, making it expensive. The management of BTC reserves by smart contracts eliminates custodial overhead costs, making dlcBTC cheaper by 25-50% than wBTC.
Deposit insurance BitGo doesn’t cover user deposits. Not applicable since merchants self-custody their BTC deposits when minting dlcBTC.


The comparison between wBTC and dlcBTC merchant systems underscores a pivotal shift towards greater decentralization and efficiency in bridging Bitcoin with Ethereum's DeFi ecosystem. While wBTC paved the initial path by tokenizing Bitcoin on Ethereum, its reliance on centralized custody highlighted the need for a more decentralized approach. dlcBTC answers this call by leveraging DLCs to offer a self-custodial, efficient, and cost-effective alternative. The approach enhances security by eliminating central points of failure and minimizes regulatory hurdles, making it a compelling choice for the future of wrapped Bitcoin. As the DeFi landscape evolves, dlcBTC's innovative approach could set a new standard for cross-chain value transfer, aligning with the core principles of decentralization and user empowerment in cryptocurrency.