Private & scalable smart contracts for Bitcoin and Lightning Network

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RGB is a smart contract system, able to work on top of the Lightning Network and designed with confidentiality and scalability in mind. It is maintained by LNP/BP Standards Association.

What is possible with RGB:

Core concepts

As a smart contract system RGB is quite different from previous approaches, both Bitcoin-based (Colored coins, Counterparty, OMNI) and non-bitcoin (Ethereum, EOS and others):

More about these concepts can be read in this presentation.

Briefly, RGB smart contracts operate with client-side validation paradigm, meaning that all the data is kept outside of the bitcoin transactions, i.e. bitcoin blockchain or lightning channel state. This allows the system to operate on top of Lightning Network without any changes to the LN protocols and also gives a foundation for a high level of protocol scalability and privacy.

As a security mechanism RGB uses single-use seals defined over bitcoin transaction outputs, which provides ability for any party having smart contract state history to verify it’s uniquiness. In other words, RGB leverages Bitcoin script for its security model and definition of the ownership and access rights.

Each RGB smart contract is represented by some genesis state, created by smart contract issuer (or, put simply, issuer) and a directed acyclic graph (DAG) of state transitions kept in form of client-validated data (i.e. this data is not stored on blockchain or within LN transactions/channel state). The state is assigned to unspent bitcoin transaction outputs, which defines them as single-use seals. The party that is able to spend corresponding transaction output is named a party owning state: it is a party that has the right to change the corresponding part of the smart contract state by creating a new state transition and committing to it in a transaction spending the output containing previous state. This procedure represents closing of a seal over state transition, and a pair of spending transaction and corresponding extra-transaction data on the state transition are named witness.

State transition assigns state to a set of defined single-use seals. Each smart contract may maintain different forms of state and define different kinds of single-use seals with different validation rules. Additionally to this, state transition may contain different metadata and Simplicity scripts, defining parts of its business logic.

Which types of state, seals, metadata and which script extensions are allowed within state transitions is defined by schema. Thus, schema can be seen as validation rules for client-side validation; schema is always defined by the issuer in state genesis. Schema also may contain Turing-complete Simplicity scripts defining parts of the business logic for client-side validation.

RGB operates in “shards”, where each contract has a separate state history and data; different smart contracts never intersect in their histories directly. This allows another level of scalability; and while the therm “shard” is incorrect, we use it to demonstrate that RGB actually achieves what was planned to be achieved with “Ethereum shards”.

While being separately maintained, RGB contracts may interact via Spectrum protocol over the Lightning Network, allowing multiparty coordinated state changes, which, for instance, enables functionality like DEX over Lightning etc.

Thus, by their abilities RGB smart contracts go beyond what is possible with Ethereum-like smart contract system, providing more layered, scalable, private and safe approach, where the ownership of the smart contract state is separated from the smart contract creation.


RGB originally was envisioned in 2016 by Giacomo Zucco and Peter Todd, presenting a further development for Peter’s Todd concepts of client-side validation and single-use seals. Its development was maintained for some time by BHB Network, inbitcoin and supported by Poseidon Group; for this time the main developer for RGB technology was Alekos Filini. Since mid-2019 Pandora Core AG and Dr Maxim Orlovsky have become main contributors to the technology development; RGB became a project basing on set of standards maintained by LNP/BP Standards Association. At this stage RGB has absorbed confidential amounts and bulletproofs from Blockstream, Andrew Poelstra and Peter Wuille works. The overall work on RGB since 2019 was financially supported by Bitfinex/ Tether Inc and Fulgur Ventures.

As a technology RGB had multiple contributors and reviewers additionally to the mentioned persons; among them Christian Decker, Christophe Diederichs, Emil Bayes, Fabrizio Armani, Federico Tenga, John Carvalho, Martino Salvetti, Max Hillebrand, Marco Amadori, Martin Habovštiak, Nicola Busanello, Oleg Mikhalsky, Olga Ukolova, Paolo Arduino, Rene Pickhardt, Reza Bandegi, Stefano Pellegrini, ZmnSCPxj, Zoe Faltiba, and many other independent contributors

RGB acknowledges significant role which played advises of Adam Back and work of Blockstream engineers in the design of its technology.


Basic information about the project can be provided by the developers in the Telegram Group.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.