- Bitcoin Core developer John Newbery presented his roadmap for the further development of the Bitcoin blockchain in 2020.
- Newbery believes that the Lightning network, the Schnorr / Taproot softfork and the PayJoin payment protocol are possible further developments for the year 2020.
In contrast to Ethereum, the Bitcoin core developer community is not known to implement very often far-reaching changes to the protocol. The last major change SegWit was implemented on August 24, 2017 and culminated with the Bitcoin Cash hard fork. However, John Newbery, a Bitcoin Core developer, has recently posted a series of tweets in which he looks at numerous developments for Bitcoin (BTC) in 2020. Newman wrote:
The end of the decade is a good time to look back and marvel at the giant strides that Bitcoin has made since Satoshi gave us the whitepaper in 2008. It’s also a natural point to look forward to what the upcoming years might hold in store. […] This is where I think Bitcoin is headed over the next few years. Tell me why I’m wrong and what I’ve missed!
The Lightning Network is the main focus for Bitcoin in 2020
According to Newbery’s estimate, the focus for 2020 is on the Lightning Network. The Lightning teams working on c-lightning (Blockstream), Eclair (ACINQ), LND (Lightning Labs) and Rust Lightning will continue to develop the protocol. All implementations currently support basic multi-path payments. These enable Lightning to make payments that are split into two or more parts and broadcast them on different channels. There will also be better support for dual-funding, splice-in and splice-out, Newbery said.
Splicing will improve the transfer of onchain output to a payment channel and vice versa, from the payment channel to the Bitcoin blockchain, without requiring broadcasters to wait for a confirmation delay. Both technologies, Newbery said, will greatly facilitate the use of the Lightning network and dramatically improve the user experience.
Furthermore, Newbery predicts that the infrastructure for the Lightning Network will improve significantly. Bitfinex recently introduced Lightning deposits and withdrawals. Other exchanges, merchant service providers, custody services and wallet providers will follow. The number of Lightning wallets will also increase significantly.
We’ll see more lightning wallets: a mix of non-custodial; self-custodied with outsourced routing; and fully-self-managed wallets. This is a brand new space and there’ll be lots of experimentation. Different teams will find different niches to fill.
— John Newbery (@jfnewbery) December 22, 2019
Newbery also predicts that more tools for Lightning developers will come to market. With Polar by Jamal James, developers can already install Lightning apps with just a few clicks in a test environment. According to Newbery, similar developments will encourage innovation at the application level:
With better tooling, we’ll see faster innovation on the application layer. Teams at zebedeeio, SatoshisGames, and others we haven’t heard of yet will delight us with new and unexpected lightning experiences.
Schnorr / Taproot softfork in 2020 or 2021
Newbery further stated that he expects the Schnorr/Taproot softfork in 2020 or 2021. The softfork is expected to bring Bitcoin a huge improvement in fungibility, privacy, scalability and functionality. To date, Bitcoin uses the ECDSA algorithm to generate cryptographic signatures. Schnorr has been under discussion for quite some time and is an alternative algorithm with several advantages. The main reason why Bitcoin did not originally use Schnorr signatures is that Schnorr was not standardized.
Taproot allows payments to public keys, which can optionally be passed to a script. Coins protected by Taproot can be issued either by fulfilling the script or by providing a signature that is verified against the public key. Taproot is intended for use with Schnorr signatures, which simplify the creation of multiparty scripts (e.g. with MuSig).
The softfork should also enable the Lightning Network to switch from HTLCs to Payment Points, which is also a big improvement for the Lightning Network in terms of privacy.
The PayJoin Payment Protocol
Another innovation could be the PayJoin Payment Protocol. As Newbery wrote, the wallet teams will work on a PayJoin Payment Protocol. PayJoin is a technique that allows you to pay someone while including one of their inputs in the payment to enhance the privacy of the sender and the receiver.
The general idea is also known as Pay-to-EndPoint (P2EP) and Bustapay. By including inputs from both the sender and receiver, block chain analysts find it difficult to determine which inputs and outputs belong to each participant. This mechanism also has the advantage that larger CoinJoints become even cheaper. An advanced PayJoin Payment Protocol could even stack multiple payments to the same merchant / exchange and use only a single signature.
In conclusion, Newbery explains that some of these enhancements will most likely be implemented in 2020, while some will probably take a little longer.
Some of these things will happen in 2020, and some will take a bit longer, but they’re all heading in the same direction: using the chain for what the chain’s good for (h/t Andrew Poesltra).
— John Newbery (@jfnewbery) December 22, 2019
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