It's Possible to Increase Bitcoin's Block Size Without a Hard Fork: Blockstream Co-Founder

Mark Friedenbach, a bitcoin developer and co-founder of the popular Blockstream company, has recently revealed a scaling approach he called “forward blocks,” which could essentially help increase BTC’s block size without a hard fork.

Currently, bitcoin can accommodate a small number of transactions per second, and is unable to compete with traditional payment networks such as that of Visa. While some believe the cryptocurrency should scale through a block size increase – which would require a hard fork - others argue this approach will lead to centralization, and prefer other solutions.

A hard fork is essentially a change to the network that isn’t backwards-compatible, meaning all of the cryptocurrency’s users need to upgrade to keep up with the change. A soft fork, on the other hand, can be backwards-compatible.

Friedenbach’s approach, according to a transcript of his presentation at the Scaling Bitcoin workshop, would be able to boost the flagship cryptocurrency’s on-chain transaction capacity through a Proof-of-Work (PoW) alternation achieved through soft forks and “privacy-enhancing alternative ledgers (side chains).”

According to Friedenbach, a former space apps developer at NASA, the forward blocks approach could ultimately help increase the cryptocurrency’s “settlement transactions volume to 3584x current levels,” while improving censorship resistance via sharding.

Here, the developer refers to sharding as a change to the PoW system and a series of developments that would see bitcoin’s blockchain scale. Most cryptocurrency users refer to sharding when mentioning Ethereum’s scaling solution, which would see multiple network computers divide transaction workload between them to scale the blockchain. These two, per Friedenbach, are “largely not” the same.

Speaking to CoinDesk, the former NASA employee noted his approach could help with the scaling debate, as the community often opposes hard forks because of how hard it can be to do them safely. He was quoted as saying:

Forward blocks makes that whole argument pointless. We don't need a hard-fork to scale bitcoin, if and when we decide to do so. It can be accomplished as a soft fork, like SegWit was.

SegWit, as CryptoGlobe covered, was launched one year ago and recently saw its usage go over 50%. During his presentation, he further suggested it could be good to replace bitcoin’s current halving mechanism, which halves block rewards every four years. To him, a more linear approach could be more beneficial to the cryptocurrency, as it wouldn’t suddenly affect the ecosystem.

Notably, Friedenbach reportedly got to his forward blocks approach by starting out thinking about a “development of a dual PoW change where you introduce a new PoW with a soft fork.” While he noted this wasn’t a proposal, it’s a “good place” to start thinking about the solution.

 

A Controversial Solution

While some could look at the former NASA contractor’s approach as revolutionary, CoinDesk reports not everyone is excited about it. Pseudonymous bitcoin developer “Shinobimonkey” was quoted as saying it was a “network attack being called an upgrade.”

Blockstream’s CEO Adam Back noted that “it’s OK,” as discovering mechanisms “can be useful and separate from whether it would be practical technically and in terms of user consensus.” To him, it’s so far just another tool.

Per the news outlet, Friedenbach isn’t advocating to use forward blocks on bitcoin either, but is merely trying to put the option out there. He’s reportedly set to test it on “Freicoin,” an altcoin he created.

Senate Banking Hearing on Facebook’s Libra; 0.25% of Algorand Tokens Sell for $60 Million

The top daily news from the cryptocurrency and blockchain space:

  • The Senate Banking Committee books hearing on Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency.
  • Bitcoin developers to get 50 bitcoin (BTC) in funding.
  • 0.25% of Algorand's ALGO tokens sell for $60 million.

At the time of writing, bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) are trading at $9,294.1 (+1.5%) and $269.5 (+0.6%), respectively. As for the MVIS CryptoCompare Digital Assets 10 Index, it is currently tracking at 4,314.6 (-0.2%).

 

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Senate Banking Committee Books Hearing on Facebook

The U.S. Senate Banking Committee announced it will hold a hearing on July 16 in order to question witnesses over Facebook’s new cryptocurrency and blockchain project, Libra. As of press time, it has not yet been publicly disclosed which individuals will testify before the Committee.

The hearing – entitled ‘Examining Facebook’s Proposed Digital Currency and Data Privacy Considerations’ – was scheduled just days after the social media giant officially revealed its plans regarding Libra and its new Calibra subsidiary.

Fund to Support Bitcoin Developers with 50 BTC

Primitive Ventures’ Dovey Wan has gathered 50 BTC – roughly $450,000 – on behalf of non-profit organization Hard Core Fund in an effort to sustainably fund Bitcoin developers.

When discussing why she decided to pursue the initiative, Wan told CoinDesk, “right now, you wouldn’t believe it, there are less than 10 full-time bitcoin developers... We want to fund full-time independent bitcoin developers.”

Established in 2018, the Hard Core Fund is managed by Pan Zhibiao, a former Bitmain employee. Wan – who serves as the executive director for the fund – is the only other team member listed on its website.

0.25% of Algorand’s ALGO Tokens Sell for $60 Million

Algorand – a scalable, secure and decentralized digital currency and transactions platform – closed its first Dutch auction with a clearing price of $2.40 per Algo (ALGO) token, the native token of the Algorand blockchain platform.

The auction was administered by the Algorand Foundation, which, in a blog post on Wednesday, said that it now stands as “the first organization to conduct a fully transparent global auction on its own blockchain.”

In total, a paltry 0.25 percent of ALGO’s total supply was sold to successful bidders for $60.4 million. Notably, the Algorand Foundation will – in exactly one year’s time – offer redemptions on tokens at 90 percent of the $2.40 clearing price.

The completion of the inaugural ALGO auction signalled the mainnet launch of the Algorand, also. It was first unveiled by MIT professor and Turing Award winner, Silvio Micali, in early 2017.