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Bitcoin Must Solve Blockchain Bloat to Sustain its Growth

The Bitcoin blockchain is growing at a staggering rate, making it a challenge to run a full node. But a solution might be just around the corner.

Republished by Plato

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In brief

  • The Bitcoin blockchain currently weighs around 320 GB and is expanding at more than 50 GB per year.
  • This can make running a full node a challenge, since many devices lack the necessary spare storage.
  • A number of solutions to the issue are in the works, including Bitcoin light wallets and Utreexo.

In the decade-plus lifespan of Bitcoin (BTC), the cryptocurrency has seen considerable growth in several key areas—from adoption to utility, and value. 

But it’s also grown in another, less desirable way—its sheer size.

Like every database (decentralized or otherwise) the Bitcoin blockchain stores data. But unlike standard databases which often see older or unwanted data purged or deleted, the Bitcoin blockchain only gets larger over time, since it contains a complete record of all the transactions that ever occurred—including all the data they contain. Nothing ever gets deleted. 

This has caused the Bitcoin blockchain to swell from just over 60 MB in January 2011 to over 320 GB ten years later in January 2021. The Bitcoin blockchain has now been growing at a linear rate for the past four years, adding an average of around 50 GB per year.

The Average Block Size is Increasing

There are a number of reasons why the Bitcoin blockchain is growing at such a staggering rate. For one thing, there are simply fewer empty blocks now. 

Since the Bitcoin blockchain has been operating at almost maximum capacity for the last four years straight, most blocks are completely full—and there has been no major change in the maximum number of transactions the Bitcoin network can handle in the last two years.

Bitcoin transactions per day (Image: Coin Dance)

Despite this, the average size of each block has been slowly increasing since Bitcoin first launched, climbing from 0.02 MB in January 2011, to 0.6 MB in January 2016, and finally to 1.3 MB in January 2021. This can be largely attributed to the increased adoption of Segregated Witness (SegWit), which allows for larger total block sizes, while keeping the size of each transaction down. 

According to Woobull’s SegWit Adoption chart, there has been a steady uptick in the use of Segwit transactions since the upgrade was activated in August 2017—and close to 50% of all transactions are now SegWit. 

With increasing block size, the rate at which the size of the Bitcoin blockchain grows can also be expected to increase. At the current average block size of around 1.31 MB and 144 blocks mined per day on average, we can expect the Bitcoin blockchain to expand by up to 70 GB in the next year alone—sending it to almost 400 GB.

The Bitcoin blockchain currently weighs 320 GB, but will likely pass 400 GB in 2022 (Image: Blockchain.com)

With most popular laptops and tablets still shipping with under 512 GB of storage space, it is becoming increasingly challenging for casual Bitcoin users to dedicate the space necessary to store the entire Bitcoin blockchain when running a full node. Likewise, with the cheapest consumer hard drives coming in at around $16/GB, those looking to run a full node will need to spend around $5.12 for the storage to do so in 2021.

Though this might be a simple task in many developed countries, it can limit the uptake of Bitcoin in developing economies, where the average income per household is much lower. This partially explains why more than 60% of Bitcoin nodes are concentrated in North America and Europe, while Africa and South Asia have just a small number of online nodes—despite their large populations. 

The vast majority of Bitcoin nodes are concentrated in developed countries. (Image: Bitnodes)

Potential Solutions

More nodes contribute to a faster, healthier, and more censorship-resistant Bitcoin network, while decentralization is one of the core tenets of blockchain-based cryptocurrencies. Fortunately, there are a number of potential solutions in the works, which could help to make running a full node more accessible. 

Overall, the cost of hard drives decreased from a minimum of $0.025/GB in 2017, down to as little as $0.15/GB in 2020—a decrease of 40% in 3 years. If this rate of decline continues, then by 2022 hard drives will get cheaper faster than the Bitcoin blockchain grows in size—thereby making it more economical to host a full node over time. 

But there are also a number of technical solutions to the problem, which act to reduce the size of the storage burden on full nodes. One of the most common workarounds is known as a light node. These are essentially nodes that use a method known as Simplified Payment Verification (SPV) to verify transactions instead. These only need to download a small fraction of the blockchain, but do need to rely on a third-party full node that hosts the entire blockchain.

Another promising solution is Utreexo—a scaling solution currently being developed by Lightning creator Tadge Dryja. According to a July 2020 Medium post by the developer, Utreexo acts to make Bitcoin nodes smaller and faster by using cryptography to condense the information nodes need to store. Unlike a standard light wallet, this system doesn’t rely on an external full node to host the full blockchain and also maintains the user’s privacy like a normal full node.

However, Utrexxo is still very much in its early stages of development, and is currently only available to use as a demonstration release. It will likely be several months, if not years before it is ready for mainstream use. 

Bitcoin’s blockchain will keep on expanding—that’s the nature of blockchains. But if these technical solutions work, and they can be implemented, blockchain bloat may no longer present the barrier to Bitcoin’s growth that it currently does.

Blockchain

Bank of Korea Head Says Cryptocurrencies Have No Intrinsic Value

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The head of the Bank of Korea, Lee Ju-yeol, said that Bitcoin and other major cryptocurrencies lack intrinsic value. However, he believes that all assets will continue to experience significant price fluctuations.

Price Surge Because of Pro-BTC Institutional Investors?

The chief of the Bank of Korea said cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, do not possess inherent value. In a recent news report, Lee Ju-yeol blasted the highly volatile nature of the digital asset industry.

“There is no intrinsic value in crypto assets,” said BOK Gov. Lee Ju-yeol at a parliamentary session on 23 February.

The news report quoted lawmakers asking BOK’s chief if the recent surge in the price of BTC is temporary or not.

“It is very difficult to predict the price, but its price will be extremely volatile,” Ju-yeol added.

The bank executive has also said that the recent rally in Bitcoin’s price followed by other significant digital assets may be led by multiple factors. Among them, Elon Musk’s Tesla – investing $1.5 billion. He highlighted that the latest price surge might be a continuation of institutional investors using Bitcoin as a hedge.

Ju-yeol also emphasized that BOK shouldn’t buy bonds issued by the country’s government directly. Otherwise, this would raise worries about fiscal stability and undermine the central bank’s trust. 

Bitcoin Volatility Bringing Some More Hard Times For Investors?

The primary cryptocurrency’s volatility has been causing quite some troubles for both retail and institutional investors. This particular character of the digital assets has been a stumbling point for many, thus, causing some hesitations in whether to allocate funds in it or not.

BTC’s price managed to initiate another notable surge during the last couple of months, marking a consequent all-time high. Just a few days ago, it skyrocketed above $58,000, dragging other altcoins like Ethereum behind it for a while.

However, almost immediately after its upgrowth, BTC suffered a significant correction, settling unsteadily around $50K as per the time of the writing. As a result, the cryptocurrency market capitalization lost more than $300 billion in two days.

Interestingly, JPMorgan strategists said recently that Bitcoin’s illiquidity could bring more problems. Analysts from the US multinational banking institution argued that BTC is in a liquidity shortage, warning investors that the primary crypto-asset could suffer another price drop.

Featured Image Courtesy of WSJ. 

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/bank-of-korea-head-says-cryptocurrencies-have-no-intrinsic-value/

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Blockchain

Cross-chain bridges and DeFi integration are pushing these 3 altcoins higher

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The cryptocurrency market is showing signs of progress following a multiday sell-off that saw the total market capitalization drop by more than $400 billion as Bitcoin’s (BTC) price briefly fell below $46,000. 

While the majority of altcoins have entered a consolidation phase that includes a retest of underlying support levels, several projects have started to regain lost ground after new developments reignited investors’ optimism.

ADA/USDT

Cardano’s ADA started the year with a bullish spark that saw its price increase 624% from $0.165 on Jan. 2 to a high of $1.20 on Feb. 20. This week’s sharp correction pulled the price to a swing low at $0.80, but it is clear that traders bought the dip.

ADA/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

Since hitting a swing low at $0.80, ADA’s price rallied 30% to $1.05 following the news that community members at Venus Protocol had approved a proposal to bring ADA to the Venus mainnet. 

VORTECS™ data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro began to detect a bullish outlook for ADA on Feb. 14, prior to the recent price rise.

The VORTECS™ score, exclusive to Cointelegraph, is an algorithmic comparison of historic and current market conditions derived from a combination of data points including market sentiment, trading volume, recent price movements and Twitter activity.

Cointelegraph Markets Pro – VORTECS™ Score (green) vs. ADA price

As the chart above shows, Binance introduced staking on Feb 10., and the VORTECS™ score for ADA rose to a high at 88 on Feb. 14

MATIC/USDT

On Feb. 9 the Matic network rebranded to become “Polygon” as part of a strategic change to become a layer-two aggregator. The move was done in response to the growing momentum of Polkadot and a desire to build an interoperability protocol on top of Ethereum.

High gas fees on the Ethereum network have increased the need for layer-two solutions, and Polygon has emerged as one of the top solutions with projects like Aavegochi and Golem already operating on the protocol.

The rebrand helped lift the price of MATIC from $0.07 on Feb. 9 to an all-time high of $0.197 on Feb. 20 before the market downturn pushed it back down to $0.111 on Feb. 23.

MATIC/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

Since that time the MATIC has recovered 62% to trade at $0.16 as the community and total value locked on Polygon continue to grow.

STX/USDT

Stacks (STX) was the breakout star on Feb. 24 as the layer-one blockchain solution designed to bring smart contracts and decentralized applications to Bitcoin saw a record $166 million in trading volume that elevated STX to a new all-time high of $1.17.

STX/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

Excitement for the project comes after the Feb. 23 announcement that STX holders can now participate in delegated staking from the Stacks wallet, allowing them to earn BTC rewards.

According to data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro, market conditions for STX have been favorable for some time.

VORTECS™ Score (green) vs. STX price. Source: Cointelegraph Markets Pro

As seen in the chart above, the VORTECS™ score for STX hit a high of 87 on Feb. 23, around 30 hours before the price increased 75% to its new high of $1.17.

Interoperability, cross-bridge solutions and staking have emerged as drivers of growth that help incentivize investors to hold their tokens and also attract new participants to old and new blockchain projects.

Following the recent market downturn, it’s clear that projects that offer tokenholders multiple ways to earn a yield and operate across separate blockchain networks are beginning to stand out from the rest of the field.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/cross-chain-bridges-and-defi-integration-are-pushing-these-3-altcoins-higher

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Former London Stock Exchange Group CEO Urges UK Government to Explore Cryptocurrencies

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The former CEO of the London Stock Exchange Group, Xavier Rolet, has advised the UK government to look into cryptocurrencies and SPACs to minimize the adverse impact of Brexit. In a recent report, Rolet claimed that the UK has trailed behind other countries in both aspects.

The UK Should Turn To Crypto And SPACs?

Born in France, Rolet is a businessman and the Chief Executive Officer of the London-based credit-focused asset management firm CQS. Before assuming this position, though, he served as the CEO of the London Stock Exchange Group and was named as one of the 100 best CEOs in the world in 2017 by the Harvard Business Review.

In a report cited by Bloomberg, Rolet touched upon the potential consequences to the UK economy following the withdrawal from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, better known as Brexit.

The executive believes that the UK has two viable options to consider if it wants to minimize the risks and help the nation flourish.

In the first one, he urged the government to “promptly consider the SPAC revolution.” Also referred to as “blank check companies,” these special purpose acquisition companies (SPAC) operate as shell corporations listed on a stock exchange with the idea of buying out a private company, thus making it public. Ultimately, this strategy eliminates the need to go through a traditional initial public offering (IPO).

While the US has seen significant adoption in the past year with a 10x increase in the raised funds compared to 2019’s results, the UK regulators have halted their progress on the London markets.

Rolet’s second advice involved digital assets as he noted that “all relevant UK government agencies should be resourced to thoroughly understand cryptocurrencies.”

With proper regulations, the crypto ecosystem could “place London and the UK at the center of a reputable and safe financial market.”

The UK’s Regulatory Approach To Cryptocurrencies

While UK’s regulators have hindered SPACs’ progress within the country, the nation’s financial watchdog, the FCA, has also been rather harsh against the cryptocurrency industry.

As of the start of this year, the Financial Conduct Authority banned crypto derivatives and exchange-traded notes (ETNs) to retail customers.

Additionally, the watchdog has issued several warnings to investors that they could lose all their funds if allocated in digital assets.

The regulator also announced that all UK-based digital asset businesses need to be registered with it but extended the deadline for applications to July 9th, 2021.

Featured Image Courtesy of TheGuardian

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/former-london-stock-exchange-group-ceo-urges-uk-government-to-explore-cryptocurrencies/

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