The next update of Bitcoin technology has overcome the first technical obstacles

The next update of Bitcoin technology has overcome the first technical obstacles - Bitcoin cash privacyOn January 21, 2020, Pieter Wuille, a Bitcoin Core collaborator and creator of the update known as Taproot, sent a change to the code he is working on to GitHub, carrying out what is known as a "pull request", proving that the code is ready to pass into the hands of other developers.

He stressed that the integration of his code is conditional on the acceptance of the proposal by the Bitcoin community, and that it has been published to disclose the changes it would imply.

The big step of the pull request

Sending a pull request regarding the Bitcoin Core code (the reference implementation or the standard version of the bitcoin software from which all the others derive) does not lead to an automatic application of the modification presented. But it is a key step.

The process of transforming the initial idea into code took place mainly behind the scenes. Wuille's "pull request" puts him in the spotlight, and suggests that the code is closer to the final version.

Although Wuille sent the pull request just a few days ago, several Bitcoin developers including John Newberry, Ben Woosley and Adam Ficsor have already released comments on the matter, confirming the feelings about anxious wait for this update.

More security with Schnorr

A key part of the proposed change is Schnorr, a cryptographic signature scheme useful for proving the ownership of the coins.

It is more effective than it currently is, as it paves the way for scalability improvements and allows developers to build new Bitcoin-based technologies. Using Schnorr, Taproot adds bitcoin smart contract functionality, enhancing privacy.

The transactions that open and close payment channels on the lightning network, for example, allowing faster transfers of small amounts, would not appear very different from normal transactions (at least in part). And this would make it more difficult for blockchain voyeurs to discern a user's activities.

A change without a leader

As a decentralized cryptocurrency, Bitcoin does not have a single leader in charge of authorizing the changes. For this reason, a big change like this, called a "soft fork", can only be absorbed if almost everyone agrees.

If no one in the community presents valid objections to Taproot (such as demonstrating a security vulnerability, for example), it could become the biggest change for the digital currency since 2017, when the SegWit update was blocked after a long and often savage debate.

Bitcoin Core contributor Anthony Towns brought together some developers who reviewed the BIPs, sending comments and suggestions. The team was open to any developer interested in the project. The revision of the protocol change ended in early January. 16 developers presented the final result of a "survey", outlining their final feedback. All 16 approved the changes.

But there is still a lot of work to be done. While many examine the code for improvements or errors, others are discussing the best way to adopt change with as few obstacles as possible - which the heated debate on SegWit has proven to be far from obvious.