Bitcoin Core Developer Lays Out Scalability Roadmap Based on Segregated Witness (Segwit)

With the decline of Bitcoin Unlimited, the support rate for the Bitcoin Core development team’s Segregated Witness (Segwit) is rapidly increasing in terms of hashrate and node count. To a bitcoin user’s request to clarify the team’s roadmap of Bitcoin Scaling in an online community, Bitcoin Core developer Luke Jr laid out various plans for the community to be aware of.

No Block Size is Needed as of Now and Near future

According to Luke Jr, block size increase is unnecessary at the moment because the size of bitcoin blocks are averaged at 750 kilobytes. Currently, bitcoin blocks are only at 75 percent of its maximum capacity of 1 megabyte and therefore, an immediate solution to increase the bitcoin block size is not urgent as of yet.

Most Bitcoin Unlimited supporters have been under-appreciative of Segwit’s ability to spur the development and activation of two-layer solutions such as the Lightning Network (Lightning) and TumbleBit. Technically, Lightning is a microtransaction solution that enables users to send and receive transactions of little value and merge multiple transactions into one single transaction.

For instance, let’s assume Alice, Bob and John are at a restaurant or a bar and open a tab for the table. The group of three individuals order various dishes and drinks. At the end of the dinner or the event, Alice, Bob and John agree to a bet that the loser will close the tab and settle the Lightning transaction for their orders at the restaurant. John loses and broadcasts the Lightning transaction to the public bitcoin address of the restaurant. Even though the group of three individuals made more than 20 transactions altogether, only one transaction is recorded in the bitcoin blockchain.

Luke Jr explained that solutions like Lightning will optimize the current bitcoin block size by up to 90 percent. In fact, if Lightning is introduced and is in production, Luke Jr noted that the 1 MB block size can be reduced to a mere 10 KB.

He stated:

“All legitimate uses of the blockchain currently amount to approximately 750k/block average. If inefficient and microtransaction usage is put aside, likely below 500k would be sufficient. No block size increase is likely to be needed in the near future. Before we reach the point that 1MB is insufficient, we are likely to have the Lightning protocol working in production. This improves efficiency of blockchain usage by magnitudes, possibly reducing 1 MB block usage to ~10k.”

In January, The Merkle reported that Thaddeus Dryja, the co-author of Lightning, discovered Segwit is an actual block size increase. In his testnet experiment, Dryja found out that Segwit can support 3.7 MB blocks, which is 3.7x larger than the current blockchain. Considering that block size at average is only at 750 MB, Segwit guarantees at least a capacity that is four times larger than the average bitcoin blocksize.

In summation, the Bitcoin Core development team’s scalability plan for bitcoin is straightforward. Activating a non-contentious solution in Segwit as a soft fork to open doors for two-layer solutions that will most likely optimize the bitcoin block size by up to 90 percent.

As Bitcoin Core developer Greg Maxwell explained in the past, Bitcoin is different to settlement networks such as Visa. Bitcoin as a digital currency must be treated differently to most financial networks.

“Some are mostly interested in Bitcoin for payments (not a new phenomenon)– and are not so concerned about what are, in my view, Bitcoin’s primary distinguishing values– monetary sovereignty, censorship resistance, trust cost minimization, international accessibility/borderless operation, etc. (Or other areas we need to improve, like personal and commercial privacy) Instead some are very concerned about Bitcoin’s competitive properties compared to legacy payment networks,” said Maxwell.

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