After a 90% consensus among miners and pools, the Taproot softfork was successfully activated by Bitcoin (BTC). This milestone marks the first major upgrade of Bitcoin since August 2017, when Bitcoin’s top layer-two solution was launched, the Lightning Network (SegWit) and Segregated Witness(SegWit).
Taproot upgrades aim to increase scripting capabilities and protect the privacy of the Bitcoin network. The soft fork introduces MAST (Merkelized Abstract Syntax Tree) to accomplish this. According to a Taproot-dedicated website, Hampus Sjoberg (prominent Bitcoin developer):
“[MAST] can make smart contracts more efficient, private and secure by only disclosing the relevant parts when spending.”
Sjoberg spoke to Cointelegraph and pointed out that Taproot activation proves that Bitcoin can perform network upgrades again. This is crucial for the long-term viability of the Bitcoin network. He said, “I believe that’s the biggest win.”
Sjoberg is also the developer of a Bitcoin Lightning wallet Blixt Wallet. He believes the Taproot upgrade allows for exploring off-chain capabilities to reduce the burden on the Bitcoin network nodes.
Taproot is a softfork that lasts 100 years. The long-term result of merging every contract and use case under one transaction type “Pay To Taproot” is a more flexible and robust blockchain. This is how it’s done. This is how you create a blockchain.
Hampus Sjoberg (@hampus_s), June 3, 2021
Sjoberg also believes that MAST could help improve the privacy for older Lightning Network nodes “if they choose to adopt Taproot.”
“One of the topics that was discussed at the meeting was whether Lightning should be upgraded in smaller iterations or as a single package.”
Sjoberg also explained how normal payments can be distinguished from transactions using Taproot for Lightning Network.
It is impossible to determine if Taproot transactions are normal payments or Lightning channel payments. This is crucial for Bitcoin’s fungibility and censorship resistance.
Taproot’s activation was made possible by Speedy Trial. This soft fork deployment method requires 90% of miners to signal that the upgrade is being deployed. Sjoberg explained that the signaling method works in 2016 blocks. This means that 90% of the 2016 blocks must signal readiness.
In June 2021, Bitcoin miners reached a 90% consensus. Sjoberg tweeted the announcement.
WE HAVE LOCKED IN! #Bitcoin #Taproot Video by: @TheGuySwann!https://t.co/rCUp5VNCBX pic.twitter.com/YFLMTenWW0
Hampus Sjoberg (@hampus_s), June 12, 2021
The Taproot upgrade marks the end to Speedy Trial deployments. Future upgrades to the Bitcoin network may require provision for soft fork deployments. Taproot opens up a whole new world of possibilities. However, the first thing that I would like to see in Taproot is a “MuSig 2 transaction.” Sjoberg shared his advice to fellow Bitcoin developers:
“While Bitcoin should not be taken for granted, I would like to see Cross-Input Signature Aggregation as a future soft fork.”
Related: Record highs for Bitcoin Lightning channels and nodes
The Bitcoin network has seen many community-driven soft and hard forks over its nearly 13-year history. The Taproot upgrade has yet to prove its value, but the Lightning Network continues reaching new heights.
The Lightning Network saw a 160% increase of nodes over the past 12 months. In addition, there was a jump in channels of 170% since January 2021.
Bitcoin’s network capacity before Taproot soft fork, which was Nov. 11, was at an all time high of 3,220 BTC. This is almost worth $210 million.