The much-anticipated Bitcoin (BTC) upgrade, Taproot, is expected to finally be activated this week.
Per taproot.watch, the upgrade will activate in 872 blocks from the time of writing, or in estimated 6 days.
Taproot is a major event and a major upgrade – the largest one since SegWit, which was activated in 2017. Taproot is expected to:
- expand Bitcoin’s smart contract and scripting capabilities;
- improve privacy measures;
- reduce fees for Multi-Signature (multisig)/complex transactions: it will reduce the data needed for processing complex transactions, such as those involving multiple signatures or time-locking;
- enhance wallet functionality by letting developers set more complex conditions for wallets;
- improve privacy on the second layer solutions like the Lightning Network by making channels look like regular Bitcoin transactions if integrated into the Lightning implementations.
Taproot will enable a solution called MAST (Merkelized Abstract Syntax Tree), which is meant to allow smart contracts to be more efficient and private by revealing only the relevant parts of the contract when spending, while the rest remains hidden. It will enable smart contracts, regardless of their complexity, to be seen as regular transaction on the blockchain.
Also, Taproot is that it comes with Schnorr, a soft fork that improves privacy, scalability, and speed, and encodes multiple keys into one. It’s a signature scheme that also enables a transaction to hide the existence of a MAST-structure. In combination with Schnorr signatures, Taproot will let users mix transactions made by complex (e.g. multisig or time-locking) wallets with those using only single signatures, therefore letting anyone hide their use of multisig.
First proposed by Bitcoin Core contributor and former Chief Technology Officer of major blockchain firm Blockstream Gregory Maxwell in 2018, the upgrade was confirmed back in mid-June this year, after it had passed the minimum threshold of 90% miner approval, resulting in a November implementation. It was activated on testnet in early July.