Bitcoin Just Got Its First Upgrade in Four Years, But Why Exactly?

The makeover is called Taproot and it was approved by miners around the world.
Loukia Papadopoulos

Just last week, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele delivered on his promise to adopt Bitcoin as a legal currency in the country. Now, it seems there's more good news for the cryptocurrency.

The first bitcoin makeover in four years called Taproot has just been approved by miners around the world, according to CNBC. The upgrade will take effect in November and will ensure greater transaction privacy and efficiency.

More importantly, it will unlock smart contracts, a feature of its blockchain technology that eliminates middlemen from transactions, and make the feature more compact, potentially more private, and in some cases a bit more flexible. The upgrade also combines the Schnorr signature scheme with MAST (Merklized Alternative Script Tree) and a new scripting language called Tapscript.

Many cryptographers consider the Schnorr signature scheme to be the best in the field. This is because its mathematical properties offer a strong level of correctness and it is fast to verify. 

Popular bitcoin evangelist Andreas Antonopoulos tweeted about the news saying: “Taproot will be locked-in for a November activation in the next 36 hours. A big success for Bitcoin, Taproot introduces a second signature algo (Schnorr) and significant privacy features. Also a big success for the “Speedy Trial” activation method with < 8 weeks to lock-in."

The previous upgrade

Bitcoin's last upgrade, Segregated Witness (Segwit), was in 2017 and was quite contentious. In fact, it was referred to as the “last civil war." Taproot, however, has near-universal support. In fact, more than 90 percent of all blocks that will be mined in the current period have signaled support for the upgrade.

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This support was evaluated through the Speedy Trial activation mechanism that gave miners three months to signal whether they wanted to support the Taproot upgrade or not. Taproot was first proposed by former Blockstream CTO Gregory Maxwell and developed by Bitcoin Core contributors including Pieter Wuille, Anthony Towns, Johnson Lau, Jonas Nick, Andrew Poelstra, Tim Ruffing, Rusty Russell, and Maxwell himself. 

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