Mintlayer: Potential Uses for the Promising Layer-2 Sidechain of Bitcoin

Bitcoin has cemented itself as the largest and most popular cryptocurrency in the world. However, the Bitcoin blockchain faces challenges with scalability and speed due to its proof-of-work consensus and block size limitations. This has restricted the growth of the network and its ability to serve as an effective payment system or host more complex smart contract-based applications. 

Enter layer 2 solutions like sidechains – separate blockchains that run parallel to the main Bitcoin network and are interoperable with it. Mintlayer is one such ambitious layer 2 sidechain project specifically designed to bring smart contracts, lightning-fast transactions, and scalability to Bitcoin. 

In this deep dive, we will unpack what exactly Mintlayer is, how it works as a sidechain to Bitcoin, its unique features and architecture, and the future possibilities for this promising layer 2 scaling solution.

What are Sidechains?

In simple terms, a sidechain is a separate blockchain that runs parallel to a main blockchain. It is attached to the main chain through a two-way peg, which locks up tokens from the main chain and releases equivalent tokens on the sidechain. This enables the transfer of assets between the sidechain and the main chain.

Sidechains allow developers to experiment with new features and functionality for a blockchain without disrupting the main chain. They aid in scaling by moving transactions off of the congested mainchain. Mintlayer is one such sidechain built for Bitcoin.

What is Layer 2?

Layer 2 refers to a secondary framework or protocol built on top of an existing blockchain. The goal is to handle transactions and execute smart contract functionality off-chain to improve scalability and efficiency.

With Mintlayer, all the complex computation and storage needed for smart contracts happens on the sidechain (Layer 2) while still interfacing with the security of the main Bitcoin blockchain (Layer 1). This helps in scaling and quicker transactions.

By utilizing sidechains and layer 2 solutions, Bitcoin can overcome some of its limitations while staying true to its core design principles. Mintlayer provides an intriguing way to bring decentralized finance (DeFi) capabilities to Bitcoin. It’s still in its early stages but shows promise to help Bitcoin scale for wider adoption.

What is Mintlayer? 

Mintlayer is an open-source layer 2 sidechain built for the Bitcoin network by Stacks, a company focused on creating smart contract and decentralized application (dApp) functionality for Bitcoin. The Mintlayer sidechain essentially operates parallel to the main Bitcoin blockchain but is pegged to it via a two-way peg.

This two-way peg enables the transfer of assets between the Bitcoin mainchain and Mintlayer sidechain. Assets on Bitcoin can be locked up to mint equivalent tokens on Mintlayer. The reverse can also happen – Mintlayer assets being burned to release locked Bitcoin tokens. This interoperability unlocks the ability to bring smart contracts, near-instant transactions, and higher throughput to Bitcoin in a decentralized manner.

The Mechanisms of the Mintlayer

To understand how Mintlayer achieves interoperability with Bitcoin, let’s first look at some key mechanisms involved:

Mint-and-Burn Process

The mint-and-burn process is how assets are transferred between the Bitcoin blockchain and Mintlayer sidechain. Users can lock up their BTC on Bitcoin which takes them out of circulation. This then mints the same amount of BTC tokens on the Mintlayer chain. The BTC remains locked on Bitcoin until the owner wishes to transfer back. 

When assets are transferred from Mintlayer to Bitcoin, the process is reversed. The BTC tokens are burnt on Mintlayer, which then unlocks the same amount of actual BTC on the Bitcoin chain. This two-way peg is vital for allowing Bitcoin to move freely between the mainchain and sidechain.


Mintlayer revolutionizes the Bitcoin blockchain by introducing a cutting-edge Proof-of-Stake (PoS) layer 2 protocol. With its innovative approach, Mintlayer enables the seamless integration of smart contract programmability into the Bitcoin network. 

By operating as an independent blockchain, Mintlayer offers a comprehensive solution to Bitcoin’s scalability challenges while elevating the capabilities of decentralized finance (DeFi) applications, decentralized exchanges (DEXes), stablecoins, and tokenization on the Bitcoin network.

At its core, Mintlayer ensures a strong connection to the Bitcoin blockchain by securely anchoring transactions from every Mintlayer block to a corresponding Bitcoin block. This integration establishes a symbiotic relationship between Mintlayer and Bitcoin, enabling users to enjoy the benefits of both networks simultaneously.

Smart Contracts

With support for smart contracts, Mintlayer can host decentralized applications that are difficult or impossible to implement directly on Bitcoin. These smart contracts are enabled by the Stacks protocol and its Clarity smart contract language. 

Like other smart contract platforms, this allows for DeFi apps, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), decentralized storage and more. These dApps still settle on Bitcoin but leverage Mintlayer for faster processing and complex logic.

How Does Mintlayer Operate?

Mintlayer operates as a blockchain ecosystem that is intricately linked to the Bitcoin network. It introduces a unique consensus mechanism called Dynamic Slot Allotment (DSA), which combines the security of Bitcoin with participant selection. This refined version of Proof-of-Stake (PoS) incentivizes validators with block rewards and discourages malicious behavior.

Network participation

Users must stake a minimum of 0.01% of the total token supply (e.g., 40,000 ML tokens) to participate in the Mintlayer consensus. This stake qualifies them for selection by the Mintlayer algorithm. Furthermore, users must stake tokens for two rounds previous to the desired participation round, resulting in a three-round lockup period that lasts about three weeks. Because key stakeholders’ tokens are locked for an extended period of time, this lockup duration serves as a deterrent to harmful action.

Participants in the consensus can renew their lock-in, allowing them to participate in subsequent rounds without having to go through the first two-round lockup. Furthermore, any participant may take numerous slots among the 1,008 member spaces available.

Mintlayer employs a unique approach where each Mintlayer block references a Bitcoin block. During each Mintlayer round, which spans approximately 1,008 Bitcoin blocks (around one week), participants are selected from stakers to contribute to the creation of new Mintlayer blocks. 

Eligible participants, who run nodes and meet the minimum staking threshold, are chosen using an algorithm that leverages the hashes of Bitcoin blocks as a source of unbiased randomness. The algorithm determines the order in which participants create and validate blocks. Selected participants are then tasked with building and propagating a block, collecting transaction fees at a specified time.

To enhance the long-term security of the Bitcoin blockchain, Mintlayer incorporates a checkpoint system. This system prevents long-range attacks and allows nodes running in fast-sync mode to download data from the latest checkpoint instead of the entire blockchain. It also facilitates blockchain pruning before a specific block height, minimizing data storage requirements. Mintlayer network participants can create checkpoints on the Bitcoin blockchain using the OP_RETURN function. Once enough Mintlayer blocks have been validated on top of a checkpoint, network nodes enforce its validity.

Block proposers

Mintlayer block proposers profit from the dynamic block creation feature, which gives them a 1 to 2-minute window during which their blocks are likely to be countersigned. This flexibility enables proposers to maximize their fee collection by waiting for the Mintlayer mempool to fill with transactions before producing and broadcasting a new block.

Mintlayer’s design stresses sustainability and diversity. The block size restriction is established at 1 MB, which ensures that the yearly blockchain size does not surpass 525 GB, even during high block frequency times.

What Sets Mintlayer Apart?

Mintlayer distinguishes itself through the utilization of the WebAssembly Virtual Machine (WASM) for executing Script Hash, a Turing-incomplete programming language. Script Hash incorporates features such as multi-signature accounts and hashed time lock contracts (HTLC) to enable the creation of more sophisticated contracts while ensuring reliability, predictability, and efficiency.

By employing this architecture, Mintlayer offers users the ability to seamlessly transition between UTXO and account-based systems with programmable pools. Although Mintlayer’s smart contract functionality is Turing-incomplete by default, users have the option to burn a Mintlayer token in exchange for a Turing-complete token. These programmable tokens facilitate a more flexible execution environment, allowing users to revert transactions by burning the newly minted token.

Mintlayer implements an Access Control List (ACL) that permits the imposition of restrictions on specific cryptocurrency transactions to ensure compliance with legal or policy requirements. Token issuers can dynamically update these rules for MLS-01 tokens through new transactions, providing enhanced control and flexibility.

Through transaction batching, following the UTXO model, and integration with the Lightning Network, Mintlayer offers users the advantages of reduced fees and improved transaction throughput. While fees are typically paid in ML tokens by default, users have the option to pay fees using any MLS-01 token accepted by a block signer, adding further flexibility to the system.

Understanding Mintlayer’s Classification: Is it a Layer 2 Solution or Sidechain? 

There has been some confusion surrounding whether Mintlayer should be categorized as a layer 2 solution for Bitcoin or as a sidechain. To clarify this, let’s explore the characteristics of layer 2 blockchains and sidechains.

Layer 2 Blockchain

  • Operates alongside a primary blockchain (e.g., Bitcoin)
  • Improves transaction efficiency by moving transactions off-chain (e.g., Lightning Network)
  • Leverages the security and decentralization of the primary blockchain


  • Functions as an independent blockchain linked to a primary blockchain
  • Establishes its own rules, security properties, and consensus mechanism (e.g., Proof-of-Stake)
  • Implements checkpoint systems for validators to refer to previous states
  • Enables the bridging of native assets from the primary blockchain to the sidechain

When examining Mintlayer’s native features, it aligns with the characteristics of a sidechain. It possesses its own independent blockchain, employs a Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism, utilizes a checkpointing system, and enables the pegging of native BTC into a wrapped Bitcoin equivalent through its MLS-01 or MLS-02 token standard.

However, Mintlayer also incorporates layer 2 functionality due to its integration with the Lightning Network. This integration allows users to benefit from off-chain transaction efficiency using BTC, ML, or MLS-01 tokens.

Considering that Mintlayer exhibits traits of both a sidechain and a layer 2 solution, it is most accurately classified as a hybrid layer 2 sidechain. This classification acknowledges the dual nature of Mintlayer, combining the advantages of a sidechain with the additional layer 2 capabilities provided through Lightning Network integration.


Mintlayer represents a groundbreaking layer 2 sidechain solution designed to enhance the capabilities of the Bitcoin blockchain. By seamlessly integrating smart contract functionality, Mintlayer addresses Bitcoin’s scalability challenges while offering improved transaction efficiency and expanded possibilities for decentralized finance, decentralized exchanges, stablecoins, and tokenization. 

Its unique features, such as the Dynamic Slot Allotment consensus, WebAssembly Virtual Machine execution, and Lightning Network integration, set Mintlayer apart as a versatile and innovative protocol that leverages the security and decentralization of Bitcoin while introducing advanced functionalities.


What is Mintlayer?

Mintlayer is a layer 2 sidechain protocol that brings smart contract programmability to the Bitcoin blockchain. It offers improved scalability, transaction efficiency, and advanced functionalities for decentralized finance, decentralized exchanges, stablecoins, and tokenization

How does Mintlayer work?

Mintlayer operates as an independent blockchain that is anchored to the Bitcoin blockchain. It utilizes the Dynamic Slot Allotment consensus mechanism and the WebAssembly Virtual Machine for executing Script Hash, a Turing-incomplete programming language. Mintlayer integrates with the Lightning Network for off-chain transaction efficiency.

What advantages does Mintlayer offer?

Mintlayer enhances the scalability of the Bitcoin blockchain while maintaining its security and decentralization. It enables the creation of more sophisticated smart contracts, lowers transaction fees, increases transaction throughput, and supports seamless transitions between UTXO and account-based systems. Mintlayer also incorporates an Access Control List (ACL) and offers the ability to peg native BTC into wrapped equivalents.

Is Mintlayer a layer 2 solution or a sidechain?

Mintlayer can be considered a hybrid layer 2 sidechain. It exhibits characteristics of both a layer 2 solution and a sidechain. It operates as an independent blockchain (sidechain) while also incorporating layer 2 functionalities, such as Lightning Network integration, to enhance transaction efficiency.

How does Mintlayer contribute to the Bitcoin ecosystem? 

Mintlayer expands the capabilities of the Bitcoin network by introducing smart contract programmability, which enables decentralized finance, decentralized exchanges, stablecoins, and tokenization. It helps address scalability issues, improves transaction efficiency, and offers a more versatile and innovative ecosystem for developers, entrepreneurs, and users within the Bitcoin ecosystem.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decision.

Share link:

Damilola Lawrence

Damilola is a crypto enthusiast, content writer, and journalist. When he is not writing, he spends most of his time reading and keeping tabs on exciting projects in the blockchain space. He also studies the ramifications of Web3 and blockchain development to have a stake in the future economy.

Most read

Loading Most Read articles...

Stay on top of crypto news, get daily updates in your inbox

Related News

Subscribe to CryptoPolitan