BigchainDB and Smart ContractsΒΆ

One can store the source code of any smart contract (i.e. a computer program) in BigchainDB, but BigchainDB won’t run arbitrary smart contracts.

BigchainDB will run the subset of smart contracts expressible using “crypto-conditions,” a subset we like to call “simple contracts.” Crypto-conditions are part of the Interledger Protocol.

The owners of an asset can impose conditions on it that must be met for the asset to be transferred to new owners. Examples of possible conditions (crypto-conditions) include:

  • The current owner must sign the transfer transaction (one which transfers ownership to new owners)
  • Three out of five current owners must sign the transfer transaction
  • (Shannon and Kelly) or Morgan must sign the transfer transaction
  • Anyone who provides the secret password (technically, the preimage of a known hash) can create a valid transfer transaction

Crypto-conditions can be quite complex if-this-then-that type conditions, where the “this” can be a long boolean expression. Crypto-conditions can’t include loops or recursion and are therefore will always run/check in finite time.

BigchainDB also supports a timeout condition which enables it to support a form of escrow.


We used the word “owners” somewhat loosely above. A more accurate word might be fulfillers, signers, controllers, or tranfer-enablers. See BigchainDB Server issue #626.