Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC): A comprehensive guide to understanding the tokenized Bitcoin

5 minutes

Natalie Wahba
16/08/2023 12:00 AM

    1. Introduction

    Bitcoin, as the first cryptocurrency, has gained significant popularity as a store of value and digital gold. However, its use in decentralized finance (DeFi) and other blockchain-based applications has been limited due to its native blockchain's constraints. Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC) emerged as a solution to bridge this gap, enabling Bitcoin to be tokenized and used on other blockchain platforms.

    2. What is Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC)?

    2.1 Tokenizing Bitcoin

    Wrapped Bitcoin is an ERC-20 token representing Bitcoin on the Ethereum blockchain. It allows Bitcoin holders to convert their BTC into WBTC, which can then be utilized within the Ethereum ecosystem for various purposes.

    2.2 The WBTC token

    Each WBTC token is backed by an equivalent amount of Bitcoin held in reserve by custodians. This ensures that WBTC maintains a 1:1 peg with Bitcoin, providing users with the ability to tokenize and de-tokenize their Bitcoin seamlessly.

    3. How Wrapped Bitcoin works

    3.1 Custodians and minting

    To obtain WBTC, users send their Bitcoin to a centralized custodian. Once verified, the custodian mints an equivalent amount of WBTC on the Ethereum blockchain, which is then sent to the user's Ethereum address.

    3.2 Transferring and redeeming WBTC

    WBTC can be freely transferred on the Ethereum blockchain, and users can also redeem their WBTC for Bitcoin at any time by sending it back to the custodian and burning the equivalent amount of WBTC.

    4. The role of decentralized custodians

    4.1 Security and auditing

    The WBTC network relies on a network of decentralized custodians to hold and manage the reserve of Bitcoin. These custodians undergo regular audits to ensure the token's integrity and reserve backing.

    4.2 Governance and multisig control

    Custodians participate in a multi-signature (multisig) system, requiring multiple signatures to execute any transaction involving the reserve Bitcoin. This adds an additional layer of security and prevents any single custodian from acting maliciously.

    5. The growing adoption of Wrapped Bitcoin

    5.1 DeFi applications and yield farming

    Wrapped Bitcoin has seen significant adoption in the DeFi space, where it can be used in various applications such as lending, borrowing, and yield farming. WBTC provides liquidity to DeFi protocols, allowing Bitcoin holders to participate in DeFi activities without leaving the Bitcoin ecosystem.

    5.2 Cross-chain interoperability

    Wrapped Bitcoin enables cross-chain interoperability, as it can be used on blockchains other than Ethereum that support the ERC-20 standard. This opens up new possibilities for using Bitcoin in a wide range of blockchain applications.

    6. Advantages and benefits of Wrapped Bitcoin

    6.1 Liquidity and accessibility

    Wrapped Bitcoin enhances the liquidity of Bitcoin, enabling it to be utilized in various DeFi protocols and decentralized exchanges. It also allows Bitcoin holders to access the benefits of DeFi without having to sell or convert their Bitcoin holdings.

    6.2 Enhanced functionality

    By tokenizing Bitcoin, WBTC extends its usability beyond its native blockchain, enabling smart contract functionality and integration with other Ethereum-based tokens and applications.

    6.3 Privacy and anonymity

    Wrapped Bitcoin transactions on the Ethereum blockchain provide a degree of privacy and anonymity, as they are recorded on a public blockchain alongside other Ethereum transactions.

    7. Risks and considerations

    7.1 Smart contract risks

    As with any tokenized asset on a blockchain, there are inherent risks associated with the smart contracts governing the creation and management of Wrapped Bitcoin.

    7.2 Centralization concerns

    While Wrapped Bitcoin aims to be decentralized, the reliance on a network of custodians still introduces some centralization risk. Users should be aware of this and perform due diligence on the custodian's reputation and security practices.

    8. How to use Wrapped Bitcoin

    8.1 Participating in the WBTC ecosystem

    Users can obtain WBTC by using one of the participating custodians and following their specific procedures for minting and redeeming WBTC.

    8.2 Storing and managing WBTC

    WBTC can be stored in Ethereum-compatible wallets that support ERC-20 tokens. Users can also use decentralized exchanges and DeFi platforms to leverage the benefits of WBTC.

    9. The future of Wrapped Bitcoin

    As the DeFi space and blockchain interoperability continues to grow, Wrapped Bitcoin is likely to play a crucial role in bridging Bitcoin with other blockchain ecosystems. Its use cases and adoption are expected to expand, creating new opportunities for Bitcoin holders and the broader DeFi community.

    10. Conclusion

    Wrapped Bitcoin offers an innovative solution for bringing the liquidity and functionality of Bitcoin into the decentralized finance ecosystem. By tokenizing Bitcoin as WBTC, users can leverage the benefits of DeFi, access new opportunities, and enhance the overall utility of Bitcoin in the blockchain space.


    No, Wrapped Bitcoin is an ERC-20 token representing Bitcoin on the Ethereum blockchain. While it maintains a 1:1 peg with Bitcoin, it operates on the Ethereum network.
    To obtain WBTC, users can send their Bitcoin to a participating custodian and follow their minting procedures. The custodian will then mint an equivalent amount of WBTC on the Ethereum blockchain and send it to the user.
    Yes, Wrapped Bitcoin can be traded on decentralized exchanges (DEXs) and used as a liquidity provider in various DeFi protocols.
    Wrapped Bitcoin relies on a network of decentralized custodians who hold and manage the reserve of Bitcoin. Regular audits and a multi-signature control system enhance its security.
    The future of Wrapped Bitcoin looks promising as it continues to find use cases in the DeFi space and expands its presence on other blockchain platforms through cross-chain interoperability.

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