As the cryptocurrency industry continues to evolve and looks to further scale, more discussion has occurred in relation to how it should work and what it might look like. In the case of Bitcoin, the discussion has turned into more of an argument and conflicting opinions about how Bitcoin could fulfill Sastoshi’s vision of a global peer-to-peer cash system rather than a settlement system. The disagreement about what Bitcoin should be has led to a significant devaluation in its currency as well as caused the exodus of a primary Bitcoin developer. Others are saying Bitcoin is at the brink of failure.
In the midst of all this drama is the release of Bitcoin Classic’s roadmap for 2016, the Bitcoin Classic team unveiled its roadmap for 2016, seeking feedback from minders, users, and companies. The company has acknowledged that there will be bumps in the road as it forges ahead on shaping a completely new industry and way of looking at transactions. Instead of focusing on the “noise” around it, Bitcoin continues to look ahead at what the future holds for Bitcoin Classic with the immediate need to address the fact that current blocks are almost full.
As a strategically focused company would do, Bitcoin has created a roadmap broken down into phases and accompanying quarters of the year that provides the directions and actions necessary to achieve on-chain scaling, which they see as essential to Bitcoin’s sustainability.
The strategy for on-chain scaling involves removing the need for blocks to be synched within seconds and move toward continuous block synching. This will increase transaction volume and help the Bitcoin network scale rapidly without risking the loss of decentralization. By increasing the transaction volume, Bitcoin also hopes to offset the drop in miner rewards that is on the horizon.
Phase 1 – Q1-Q2 2016
To address the fact that blocks are almost full, the first step has been focused on raising the block size limit from 1MB to 2MB. In order to do this, a hard fork is required centered on Bitcoin Core Implementation 0.11.2 and 0.12.0 with a 75% activation threshold. With this comes a 28-day activation grace period.
Phase 2 – Q2-Q3 2016
To counter any focus on the idea that increasing the block size is a solution, the Bitcoin Classic team is focusing this phase on new changes that are being made to the code after they receive industry feedback. These recommended code changes include parallel blocks validation to reduce excessive-sized block attack profitability; headers-first mining to stop excessive-sized block attacks; block reference to transactions that have been well-propagated to minimize bandwidth use; permission for miners to pre-announce the block they are working on to minimize data sent; and on-step validation to speed the transactions. These code changes are intended to optimize bandwidth while reducing workload.
Phase 3 – Q3-Q4 2016
The Bitcoin Classic team plans to spend the second half of 2016 on the objective of making the block size limit dynamic. Of course, this phase will only be possible when industry feedback about block size concerns from Phase 2 is addressed. Once that happens, the roadmap involves using a variation of BitPay CEO Stephen Pair’s proposal. As such, the validation cost of a block “must be less than a small multiple of the average cost over the last difficulty adjustment period.” The team also would like to implement a simplified version of Segregated Witness from Core when it becomes available.
On-Chain Scaling Conference on Deck
While this roadmap was announced in February with the mention that there would be an on-chain scaling conference in which the proposals from the roadmap could be discussed for consensus and next steps forward, a date has yet to be announced nearly two months later. In the meantime, Blockchain CEO Peter Smith noted that he ran a trial of Bitcoin Classic to see if he could add to the discussion and suggested solutions that could help scale the network.
Can’t We All Just Get Along?
The roadmap has definitely sparked debate – so much so that many are concerned that the growing division about how to proceed may hurt a very promising industry that has the potential to disrupt numerous applications across many segments of the global business environment. The March Satoshi Roundtable offered some progress but also poured salt in old wounds about the direction of Bitcoin and governance of cryptocurrency. While there is always room for constructive criticism and conflict, which is often necessary to create real change, it’s important that Bitcoin developers and the overall cryptocurrency industry put differences aside, heal the rift, and collaborate to get closer to the real potential that many envision.