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Just SegWit? Bitcoin Core Is Already Working on a New Scaling Upgrade

Bitcoin's core developer team isn't yet done scaling the cryptocurrency's protocol.

Despite the fact that a years-in-the-making change called Segregated Witness (SegWit) activated on the network just over six weeks ago (with businesses and users now slowly updating and average block sizes inching upward), the upgrade has already started a chain reaction of work on other optimizations geared toward accommodating more users.

So, while businesses and miners are pushing for more aggressive scaling via the controversial Segwit2x proposal, the open-source team behind bitcoin's most widely used software is focused on other efforts entirely. Called "Schnorr signatures," the technology offers another signature scheme option alongside Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA). One benefit is that it supports "signature aggregation" on the bitcoin blockchain.

While that may sound complex, the change aims to consolidate activity that already takes place on the network with each transaction. Under the ECDSA scheme, each piece of a bitcoin transaction is signed individually, while with Schnorr signatures, all of this data can be signed once.

And doing so could improve bitcoin in a few key ways, according to developers working on the effort.

Blockstream engineer Jonas Nick told CoinDesk that this method of mashing signature data together should be considered "low-hanging fruit for helping bitcoin scale."

First, by decreasing the number of signatures, it increases the amount of transaction data that can fit into each block. Second, by merging signatures, the technology could enhance privacy by making it harder to determine where transactions are coming from.

Third, it's believed the change could curb "spam attacks," where one entity sends a bunch of small bitcoin transactions that take up extra space in the blockchain, potentially making nodes more difficult to run.

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