Today marks the official release of Bitcoin Core 0.20.0, the 20th major release of Bitcoin’s original software client launched by Satoshi Nakamoto over 11 years ago.
Overseen by Bitcoin Core lead maintainer Wladimir van der Laan, this latest major release was developed by over 100 contributors in a span of about six months. The result of more than 500 merged pull requests, Bitcoin Core 0.20.0 mostly cleans up and hardens the Bitcoin Core codebase, advances hardware wallet integration, improves network reliability and includes several other improvements.
Here are some of the more notable changes.
Further Hardware Wallet Integration in GUI
Bitcoin Core has been compatible with hardware wallets since version 0.18.0. However, users cannot yet make transactions with a hardware wallet from Bitcoin Core’s graphical user interface (GUI); they must instead use the command-line interface (CLI) to do that.
Bitcoin Core 0.20.0 is taking a step toward hardware wallet integration into the GUI. Users can now create a transaction without a signature in the Bitcoin Core GUI using the partially signed bitcoin transaction (PSBT) format, and copy it to their clipboard. Once copied, they can transfer the transaction to their hardware wallet to sign it — however, this transfer is not yet automated, and broadcasting the transaction still requires using the CLI.
Future Bitcoin Core releases will continue to advance hardware wallet integration.
Asmap for More Reliable Network Connectivity
Bitcoin Core connects to several peers (other Bitcoin nodes) on the Bitcoin network. Bitcoin Core maps other nodes based on their IP addresses, with the intent to establish connections with peers from various regions and Internet Service Providers (ISPs). If a node receives blocks and transactions from peers located all around the world, it decreases the risk that certain data (like a specific transaction) is withheld.
Bitcoin Core currently maps IP addresses by Network Operators’ Groups. However, several of these groups are actually part of the same Autonomous System (AS): clusters of Network Operators’ Groups that share key internet routes, and therefore potentially share the same routing bottlenecks where data could potentially be filtered.
Bitcoin Core 0.20.0 includes a new configuration option called Asmap, which maps IP addresses by Autonomous System Numbers (ASNs). This ensures that the node connects with peers from a range of different ASs, reducing potential network bottlenecks, thus further limiting the risk that specific data is withheld. (Mapping IP addresses into Network Operators’ Groups remains the default configuration for now, however.)
Removal of BIP61 Reject Messages
Reject Messages (BIP61) are notifications that a node returns when a transaction it received from a peer is rejected, and why. (Perhaps because the transaction is invalid, perhaps because it is considered not to include sufficient fee, perhaps there is another reason for the rejection.)
Bitcoin Core developers do not consider the reject messages very useful, however. Most importantly, peers shouldn’t be assumed to reliably return a Reject Message. In other words, if a node doesn’t receive a Reject Message, it doesn’t necessarily mean the transaction was accepted. This limits the usefulness of the messages, while there are better solutions to check that a transaction is valid and includes enough fees. Meanwhile, the messages were making the peer-to-peer protocol more complex, and were taking up bandwidth.
BIP61 Reject Messages had therefore already been disabled by default in Bitcoin Core 0.18.0. Bitcoin 0.20.0 has now removed the feature completely.
Removal of the BIP70 Payment Protocol (and OpenSSL)
The Payment Protocol (BIP 70) was designed several years ago to improve Bitcoin’s payment experience. A user and a merchant could communicate additional details about a payment, such as a human-readable destination address (the name of the merchant) and a refund address in case something went wrong with the purchase.
While Bitcoin Core integrated the Payment Protocol, the standard was never widely adopted. Instead, most wallets still use the more basic URI scheme (BIP21): The clickable link or scannable QR-code format that, for example, communicates the payment address and amount.
Perhaps more importantly than the lack of adoption, the BIP70 Payment Protocol suffered a number of security and privacy vulnerabilities over the years. Most notably, its dependency on the OpenSSL software library for cryptographic functions required a series of short notice emergency upgrades. Some Bitcoin wallets have, for these reasons, rejected implementing BIP70 altogether.
Bitcoin Core 0.19.0 removed the Payment Protocol from the GUI, but users could still compile their node with a special configuration to make use of the feature. Bitcoin Core 0.20.0 has now completely removed the Payment Protocol.
With BIP70 gone (and some other software tweaks to remove the dependency), Bitcoin Core has also been able to completely remove OpenSSL from its codecase.
Dumptxoutset As a First Step Toward Assumeutxo for Fast Bootstrapping
A new remote procedure call (RPC) lets Bitcoin Core 0.20.0 generate a snapshot of the UTXO set, which reflects the state of Bitcoin ownership as recorded on the blockchain at a specific point in time (block height). This snapshot can be shared.
Future Bitcoin Core releases will share such a snapshot when peers first join the network. This allows the new nodes to immediately start participating on the network from the point in time when the snapshot was made, while the entire history of the blockchain is checked in the background. (Like Assumevalid, a similar shortcut, Assumeutxo does come with trust tradeoffs before the entire blockchain is checked, and should until then be used with these tradeoffs in mind.)
For a more extensive list of upgrades, also see the Bitcoin Core 0.20.0 release notes.
Thanks to Sjors Provoost for information and feedback.
Coin Metrics Report Details Surges in ETH, Doge Trading
Coin Metrics: Altcoins Are Taking Over
While bitcoin is still the world’s number one digital currency by market cap (it is currently trading for about $35,000 per unit), the asset has experienced some serious dips over the past month, while by contrast, Dogecoin and Ethereum have exhibited gains and are regularly moving up the digital ladder.
Coin Metrics garnered much of the information for its report by looking at data from Binance, arguably the largest and most popular crypto exchange on the planet in terms of daily trading volume. Additional statistics were gathered from exchanges such as Coinbase and FTX. Coin Metrics points out that thus far, 2021 has been the year for “smaller altcoins,” suggesting that a great many of them have surged heavily between the months of January and early May. From there, however, a serious crypto crash has taken precedence, with Coin Metrics unable to pinpoint what, exactly, might have been the cause.
For the most part, numerous altcoin pairs are offered on Binance, which explains why the company’s trading volume for many of the world’s smaller assets likely overtook that of bitcoin. The report says:
ETH volume surpassed BTC volume on Coinbase by a wider margin than on Binance. Coinbase did not offer Dogecoin trading in May (although they introduced it in early June), so it did not have a Doge rush similar with Binance, but it did have a relatively high amount of volume for some other altcoins, led by MATIC, ADA and Ethereum Classic (ETC)… Continuing the trend, ETH volume edged out BTC on FTX, although not by much, but comparatively, the top altcoins made up a lower percentage of total volume on FTX than on Binance and Coinbase.
Some of the world’s smaller exchanges – such as Huobi – also saw Ethereum and Dogecoin trading surge to levels beyond what people were doing with bitcoin. The report continues to say:
Similar with Binance, DOGE volume surged on Huobi, taking the spot as the third most traded currency by volume.
Bitcoin Hasn’t Been Fully Cut Out Yet
The only place – according to the document – where bitcoin trading appears to remain dominant at the time of writing is the CME in Chicago, Illinois. The company delves in bitcoin futures trading and has recently opened the door to ETH futures, though this is still in its early stages. Coin Metrics writes:
The markets continued to move mostly sideways over the last week. Bitcoin and Ethereum usage both stayed relatively flat, with daily active addresses dropping 2.5 percent and growing by 3.3 percent, respectively. Ethereum daily transaction fees dropped by over 35 percent week over week as gas prices continued to fall, and bitcoin transaction fees followed a similar pattern, dropping by 40.5 percent.
Bitcoin Taproot upgrade finally achieves activation lock-in!
The much-anticipated Bitcoin Taproot upgrade passed the Speedy Trial, which was a signaling period which gauged support for the upgrade from bitcoin’s mining sector. Since SegWit, Taproot has been touted as the next significant upgrade for Bitcoin.
Data from Taproot.watch, a webpage created by Bitcoin developer Hampus Sjöberg, released an interesting yet hilarious video to announce the completion of the lock-in stage.
— Hampus Sjöberg 🥕🟩 (@hampus_s) June 12, 2021
On the official page, it read:
“This period has reached 1815 Taproot signaling blocks, which are required for lock-in.”
Different mining pools tweeted their support for the upgrade on their respective platforms with Slush Pool being the first to do so.
TAPROOT LOCKED IN AT BLOCK 687285 BY SLUSHPOOL 🟩 pic.twitter.com/FFDdibtmGt
— pourteaux (@pourteaux) June 12, 2021
AntPool also supported the upgrade.
“As of block 687284, Taproot signalling has reached 1815 blocks this period, guaranteeing that absent very deep reorgs, it is guaranteed to lock in. Following that, it will activate at block 709632, probably around mid-November 2021.”
He also addressed that ‘there is a lot of work left of course’, which included:
a) PSBT extensions to communicate Taproot keys/scripts/signatures,
b) MuSig2 standardization so the software can cooperate in signing,
c) Output descriptors,
Why is it so important?
“With this upgrade, you’ll see Bitcoin to be the settlement network. Funds are transferred from one institution to another, say one bank to another.”
“The update would lower the data size of smart contracts, in turn lowering transaction costs. Taproot is also expected to enhance smart contract functionality and efficiency.”
Jeremy Rubin, a Bitcoin Core contributor and founder of Judica projected a similar optimistic narrative,
“With taproot, you get optimization of Bitcoin, much different from how people know Bitcoin today- little too inefficient or reveal too much information about what you’re trying to do. Taproot helps to be private and efficient.”
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Next-Gen Decentralized NFT Platform, NEFTiPEDIA Announces Launch of its ICO In 3 Days
NEFTiPEDIA, a next-generation decentralized NFT platform that operates in a way that contributes to the elevation of digital artists, creators, and investors has announced the launch of its ICO which is set to happen in 3 days.
NEFTiPEDIA has designed a commission-free platform to enable its artists to maximize income, following its aim to help them increase revenue via NFTs.
Following NEFTiPEDIA’s plans to storm the marketplace while launching its ICO, it aims to serve the marketplace with different categories of products including cosmetics, vehicles and property.
“….we believe NEFTiPEDiA will become a community-run marketplace and the industry will make our project as a kind and remarkable one in the world,” the announcement reads.
The development will see the platform provide a decentralized marketplace for Artists, where they can sell and validate their NFT links to fans and interested buyers.
NEFTiPEDIA Offers Exciting Prizes to Users
The team behind the project have allotted a total of 250,000,000 $NFT tokens for its users to enjoy in the upcoming ICO.
To further celebrate the intended development, the platform has proposed a referral scheme where winners can enjoy amazing and exciting prices.
Users who wish to participate in the program are required to sign up for the platform’s ICO panel and get a referral code.
The code can as well be shared with friends, giving users the opportunity to win exciting prizes.
A minimum of 5 referrals is required for participants to be considered for winning.
“Only those referrals ended in purchase will be added to the count. After the completion of ICO in 30 days, winners will be announced. Notably, winners will bear all the applicable tax.” The team further elaborated on the conditions for winning.
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