The Bitcoin (BTC) network successfully activated the taproot soft fork after a 90 percent consensus of miners and mining pools between blocks 709,488 and 709,632. The milestone event was the first major upgrade for BTC since August 2017, introducing Bitcoin’s leading Layer 2 solution, Lightning Network and Segregated Witness (SegWit).
The Taproot upgrade aims to improve the scripting and privacy of the BTC network. To this end, the soft fork introduces the concept of the Merkelized Abstract Syntax Tree (MAST). According to a taproot website from famous BTC developer Hampus Sjöberg:
“[MAST] can help make smart contracts more efficient and private by only disclosing the relevant parts of the contract when they are issued. “
Speaking to Cointelegraph, Sjöberg pointed out that activating Taproot shows that BTC can again perform network upgrades, which is extremely important for the longevity of the Bitcoin network. “I think that’s the biggest win,” he added.
Sjöberg, who is also the developer of the Bitcoin Lightning wallet Blixt, believes the Taproot upgrade will allow exploring off-chain opportunities so as not to overload the network’s Bitcoin nodes.
Taproot is a 100 year old soft fork.
The consolidation of all contracts and use cases under a single transaction type “Pay for Taproot” leads to a more robust and resilient blockchain in the long term.
This is how you do it.
How to design a blockchain.
– Hampus Sjöberg (@hampus_s) June 3, 2021
Additionally, Sjöberg believes MAST could also help improve the privacy of the older Lightning network “if Lightning implementations adopt taproot”. The developers of various Lightning Network Node implementations met just a few weeks ago at the LN Summit 2021 in Zurich, Switzerland to discuss possible upgrade paths:
“One of the things that was discussed during the meeting was whether it was best to upgrade Lightning in small increments or as a large package.”
In addition, Sjöberg explains how, under normal circumstances, payment channels cannot be distinguished from regular transactions with Taproot for the Lightning Network:
“It’s impossible to tell whether a Taproot transaction is just a regular payment or belongs to a Lightning channel. This is crucial for the fungibility of Bitcoin and thus for resistance to censorship. “
The successful activation of Taproot is due to the Speedy Trial, a soft fork deployment method that requires 90% of miners to signal an upgrade deployment. As Sjöberg explains, “the signaling method works in the phases of the 2016 block, which means that 90% or 1815 blocks from 2016 have to signal readiness during the 2016 block period.”
Bitcoin miners reached a 90% consensus for the first time back in June 2021, and Sjöberg tweeted the announcement:
– Hampus Sjöberg (@hampus_s) June 12, 2021
However, the Taproot upgrade also marks the end of the Speedy Trial implementation, and future upgrades to the Bitcoin network will require the provision of new soft fork implementation methods. “Taproot opens up a world of possibilities, but the first thing I personally would like to see is a ‘MuSig 2’ transaction.” Sjöberg shared advice for other Bitcoin developers and said:
“Although we shouldn’t take anything for granted for Bitcoin, I personally would ultimately see the ‘Cross Input Signature Aggregation’ as a future soft fork for Bitcoin.”
Related: Bitcoin Lightning Nodes and Channels hit a record high
During Bitcoin’s nearly 13-year existence, the Bitcoin network has gone through several community-run hard and soft forks. While the Taproot upgrade doesn’t have to prove itself in the short term, the Lightning Network continues to reach new heights.
On September 28, Lightning Network saw the number of nodes increase by 160% over a 12-month period, and the number of channels has increased by 170% since January 2021.
On November 11, before the Taproot soft fork, Bitcoin’s network capacity was at an all-time high of 3,220 BTC, which is worth nearly $ 210 million.