Over the past few months, there has been quite a bit of discussion regarding the future of bitcoin as a protocol. Three main “contenders” have arisen, including SegWit, the Lightning Network, and Mimblewimble. All three proposals offer something different to offer, even though they are not mutually exclusive by any means. It is a good time to look at what each solution has to offer, and how it may benefit the bitcoin protocol as a whole.
Comparing The Three Proposals To Improve Bitcoin
First there is Segregated Witness, a solution that has been received with a lot of criticism so far. A Rather unusual stance, though, as SegWit seemingly offers necessary bitcoin bug fixes. Improving the network as a whole is always a good thing. Moreover, SegWit also provides a scalable solution by making transactions smaller in size. This allows for fitting more bitcoin transfers in every network block.
Moreover, one could argue deploying SegWit on the bitcoin network is a must if we ever want to see the Lightning Network in full effect. The Lightning Network focuses primarily on microtransactions and instant transaction confirmations. Especially this latter part is of great importance, as there has been some concern over the amount of time it takes to get network confirmations without paying exuberant fees.
The Lightning Network effectively created a decentralized network of payers who work together to send payment promises which are settled on a regular basis. This improves privacy – something bitcoin severely lacks right now – and introduces rewards for users running a network node. Up until this point, running any bitcoin network node is not subject to bonuses or rewards.
So far, the Lightning Network has been greeted with mixed reactions. The founder of Bitcoin Classic feels LN is an altcoin that will steal rewards from the miners. That statement seems to be a bit erratic, even though it may not be the best scalable solution for the bitcoin protocol as we know it today. Only time will tell if the Lightning Network is a suitable candidate to improve bitcoin.
Last but not least, we have Mimblewimble, another promising concept to make bitcoin better than ever before. Establishing a decentralized ledger that runs alongside Bitcoin would effectively reduce the blockchain bloat as we know it, and help speed up transactions and confirmations in the process. Introducing Mimblewimble may need to occur through a bitcoin fork, though, which is not the most preferable course of action at this time.
In the end, it remains to be seen if either of these concepts will ever be activated on the bitcoin network. SegWit signaling has begun some time ago, yet support seems to stagnate. The Lightning Network and Mimblewimble are still under active development, and may not see the light of day until a few years from now. Moreover, one never knows which new and creative ideas may be proposed in the future.
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