Privacy and Scaling Upgrades Could Mean Significant Changes for Bitcoin

  • December 16, 2019

Earlier this year, reports emerged that there were some privacy and scaling upgrades underway for Bitcoin. At the moment, there are already 200 developers on board who are looking at the Bitcoin Improvement Proposals (BIPs) concerning Taproot and Schnorr.

Because Bitcoin is a decentralized currency, there can be no changes made to it, unless a majority of people on the Blockchain agree to the changes. That said, there are plans to bring as many developers as possible on board, who will test the BIPs and ensure that all suggestions made are safe.

Anthony Towns, a core Bitcoin contributor, initiated this move. The review group, made of the 200 developers is the first of its kind and organizers are referring to it as an experiment. No one knows for sure what the outcome will be, but we can all expect massive changes for Bitcoin’s usability.

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Spontaneous Formation of the Review Group

Towns mentions that the review group was formed spontaneously, almost by accident.

The Internet Relay Chat is a chat group where developers talk about any changes to Bitcoin. The group is open to any developer from around the world to either read through the discussions or give their ideas.

According to Towns, a few of the developers were discussing how they could take Taproot proposal to the next level. A few hours later, they had already created a shared document that highlighted what the project would look like and things picked up from that point.

The Three-Step Process Needed to Change Bitcoin

For there to be any changes to Bitcoin, the developers have to go through three stages. First, they have to identify the need for a change, which they have already done. They will then have to write a code that implements the change and eventually get Bitcoin users to use the new code, so that the change becomes effective.

The process is quite long, and there haven’t been many changes to Bitcoin over the last decade of its existence. A few BIPs, however, have made it through the process, the most notable one being the Segregated Witness (SegWit). SegWit made it easier for the development of Lightning Network, which increased Bitcoin user numbers significantly.

Currently, the review group is in stage one, where they are reviewing the proposals for improving Bitcoin. Experts in Blockchain technology are guiding the developers, who will be sifting through proposals for four hours each week for the next two months.

What do the New Changes Mean for Bitcoin?

Taproot is an upgrade for the Bitcoin scripting language. The upgrade comes with several new features and enhances privacy on the Blockchain even further. The Taproot and Schnorr upgrades will undoubtedly enhance both privacy and scalability of the currency. This may also lead to increased adoption of crypto currencies by merchants. Crypto enthusiasts could, therefore ,use cards such as Blockcard with ease when transacting online. Blockcard enables users to transact using their crypto currencies on any store that accepts VISA.

The Taproot protocol allows Smart Contracts (Scripts) to expand their functionality and flexibility on the Blockchain network. This enhances security because Taproot distinguishes even the most complex Smart Contracts from common transactions.

Schnorr’s signatures are essential for the Taproot protocol to function properly. The proposed upgrade will have the space occupied by the signatures on the blocks optimized, allowing the compression of the signatures from all the participants into one signature. The same way, public keys that require signatures from several participants can be aggregated into a single key.

By doing so, it becomes impossible to tell this key from a classic public key. It is, therefore, difficult to tell whether a transaction was approved by a single person or several of them. This results in enhanced security and increased space savings on the network.