The Bitcoin network welcomes the Taproot soft fork upgrade

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The Bitcoin network successfully activated the taproot soft fork after a 90 percent lock-in consensus from miners and mining pools between blocks 709,488 and 709,632. The milestone marks the first major upgrade for Bitcoin since August 2017, when Bitcoin’s leading Layer 2 solution, the Lightning Network and Segregated Witness (SegWit), was introduced.

The Taproot upgrade aims to improve the scripting capabilities and privacy of the Bitcoin network. To this end, the soft fork introduces the concept of the Merkelized Abstract Syntax Tree (MAST). According to a Taproot-owned website of the well-known Bitcoin developer Hampus Sjöberg:

“[MAST] can help make smart contracts more efficient and private by only disclosing the relevant parts of the contract when spending. “

Speaking to Cointelegraph, Sjöberg pointed out that taproot activation shows that Bitcoin 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 a Bitcoin Lightning Wallet Blixt Wallet, believes the Taproot upgrade will allow exploring off-chain capabilities so as not to overload the network’s Bitcoin nodes.

In addition, Sjöberg believes that MAST can also help improve the privacy of the older Lightning network “if the Lightning implementations take over Taproot”. The developers of the 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 in the meeting was whether it’s best to update Lightning in small iterations or do it as a big package.”

In addition, Sjöberg explained how with Taproot for the Lightning Network payment channels are indistinguishable from normal transactions under normal circumstances:

“It’s not possible to tell whether a Taproot transaction is just a normal payment or belongs to a Lightning channel. This is important for the fungibility and thus the censorship resistance of Bitcoin. “

The successful activation of Taproot is attributed to Speedy Trial, a soft fork deployment method that requires 90% of miners to signal the deployment of the upgrade. As Sjöberg explains, “the signaling method works in periods of 2016 blocks, which means that within a 2016 block period 90% or 1815 of the 2016 blocks must signal readiness.”

Bitcoin miners reached a consensus of 90% for the first time in June 2021, and Sjöberg tweeted the announcement:

However, the Taproot upgrade also marks the end of Speedy Trial deployments, and future upgrades to the Bitcoin network will require provisions for new soft fork deployment 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 with Bitcoin, I personally would like to see ‘Cross-Input Signature Aggregation’ as a future soft fork for Bitcoin.”

Related: Bitcoin Lightning nodes and channels hit record highs

In the almost 13-year existence of Bitcoin (BTC), the Bitcoin network has gone through numerous community-operated hard and soft forks. While the Taproot upgrade has yet to prove itself in the future, the Lightning Network continues to reach new heights.

On September 28th, the Lightning Network saw the number of nodes increase by 160% in 12 months, as well as an increase in the number of channels by 170% since January 2021.

On Thursday, Bitcoin’s network capacity was at an all-time high of 3,220 BTC before the Taproot soft fork, which is worth nearly $ 210 million.