The long-anticipated Taproot soft fork has been initiated, to make Bitcoin more anonymous, safe, and efficient.
On Sunday, November 14, 2021, at 5:15 UTC, the Bitcoin network set a record when its most massive upgrade, Taproot, launched at block 709,632.
Taproot’s Upgrade is Here!
The adoption is a new phase for Bitcoin, as Taproot is the first critical network improvement since August 2017, following the Lightning Network and Segregated Witness (SegWit) upgrades.
Although SegWit and the Lightning Network are aimed at speeding up and lowering the cost of transactions, Taproot offers much more than increased scaling and fee reduction. It attempts to improve the network’s safety and privacy.
Taproot incorporates Schnorr Signatures to alleviate several network obligations while improving accessibility, performance, and safety. It functions as a form of master key, condensing a collection of signatures into a single one. This significantly simplifies, speeds up, and lowers the cost of performing multi-signature multi-input transactions (UTXI).
It enhances the efficiency of smart contracts. Taproot intends to improve Bitcoin’s scripting language via the Merkelized Abstract Syntax Tree concept (MAST). This enables the network to support smart contracts, resulting in increased utilization.
As reported by Taproot.watch, a devoted site for upgrading hosted by Bitcoin developer Hampus Sjöberg, “it (MAST) can assist in making smart contracts more effective and secure by releasing only the relevant elements of the contract when spending.”
According to Sjöberg, “Taproot is a 100 years soft fork” that “will result in a more fungible and durable blockchain in the long term.”
Bitcoin and Taproot: What to Expect
With Taproot fully operational on the system, it will be exciting to see how far Bitcoin goes in the future.
Almost 90% of miners have previously expressed an interest in upgrading, which explains how Taproot was able to “lock-in” in June and why there was a five-month wait before activation began.
However, the activation does not mean that all work is complete. Users will be unable to transmit or receive the new form of the transaction unless their Bitcoin wallet accepts it. To enable such transactions, wallet developers will have to implement new code in their wallets.
According to history, it could take time for wallets to get on the train. For example, it took Bitcoin’s most recent major update, SegWit, around two years to achieve 50% adoption.
Taproot’s complex use cases (such as private Lightning Network transactions that don’t look distinct from traditional transactions) are still up to the developers to create and execute independently.
An essential factor is that Taproot will open the door to fresh ideas and approaches. As developers continue to innovate, develop, and expand, they will get a broader set of tools. There are already a few of these projects in progress, and more than a few are still unimagined.
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