When it comes to scaling bitcoin, there is no shortage of potential solutions to solve the problem. Bitcoin Core developers feel SegWit and the Lightning network will solve the issue, whereas Bitcoin Unlimited supporters prefer a different approach. The Purse team proposes another option, which goes by the name of “Extension Blocks”, which seems to combine traits of the two other proposals.
What Is The Extension Blocks Proposal About?
It is important to note the concept of Extension Blocks dates back to 2013, as the idea was originally proposed by Johnson Lau. These extension blocks would be added at the end of every network block found on the bitcoin network. Several advancements would be provided, including a transaction malleability fix and the introduction of bitcoin-based smart contracts.
To be more specific, Extension Blocks would not be a mandatory scaling solution. Any user or organization can opt-in to use this implementation once it gets activated on the network. Although all security benefits and new features alone make it well worth upgrading, there will always be some individuals who will not accept this change right away. This is why the opt-in approach is so valuable, as it still gives every bitcoin user a choice as to how they want to proceed.
Activating Extension Blocks would occur through a soft fork and offer an immediate block size increase. Future soft forks can continue to up the block size as needed with relative ease. Interestingly enough, this proposal is still capable of supporting the Lightning Network, similarly to how SegWit paves the way for LN. Moreover, future innovative projects, such as Rootstock and Mimblewimble, are compatible with the Extension Blocks proposal.
As one would expect, the activation of Extension Blocks required majority miner support. Once the proposal has enough support for activation, users can start using the new features and create new bitcoin use cases. It is expected the Extension Blocks proposal will be deployed on a testnet in the coming weeks, although no specific date has been announced yet. It is an interesting alternative to both SegWit and BU, while still keeping traits of both proposals in mind.
What is rather remarkable is how BitPay CEO Stephen Pair has contributed to this release. In fact, BitPay is seemingly “eager” to test the idea as a way to avoid hard forks. Giving all bitcoin users a choice on whether or not they want to use this implementation is an interesting development, to say the least.
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