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  • Merkle Proof Standard Improves BSV Payment Service

    Published on July 3, 2021

    The BSV Technical Standards Committee (TSC), a service to industry based organization, recently announced that it has completed the publication of the Merkle proof standard under the OpenBSV license, the first-ever technical standard in BSV history. The good news was revealed by nChain CTO and TSC Chairman Steve Shadders and TSC founding member and Two Hop Ventures founder Alex Fauvel during the recently concluded CoinGeek Conference in Zurich, Switzerland.

    The TSC Process

    Technical standards have been used across all industries to ensure that different brands and products can interact seamlessly with each other. They not only allow for interoperability, but they also cultivate competition and innovation. To put it in layman’s terms, Shadders uses the standard DVD format as an example.

    “Let’s say I had a Sony DVD player and I buy a Samsung DVD player. Imagine if they had different formats – I’d have to go out and buy a whole new DVD collection to replace all my existing ones. [This standard] basically solves that problem,” Shadders said.

    The Merkle Proof standard is the product of the BSV community’s input and the TSC’s facilitation of ideas that are integrated into a rigorous standardization process. It has gone through a series of meticulous internal reviews that includes ensuring legalities, such as intellectual property, and consulting with experts before undergoing a public review. After the two-month public review, it is then finalized and published. Even though the Merkle Proof standard has completed the publication stage, it is continuously open to being revised in order to ensure that it is always relevant and efficient.

    “We try to encourage the participants to think about forward compatibility so that they’re not proscriptive about changes that might happen in the future. But it’s quite possible that a standard might simply become unfeasible or obsolete because the surrounding technology has changed, in which case that standard will more than likely be withdrawn and replaced by a new one,” Shadders pointed out.

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    The Merkle Proof Standard and BSV Payments

    The Merkle proof standardized format is crucial in fostering interoperability within the different applications in the BSV ecosystem. What it does is it creates a single format for interoperability of BSV payments, as well as provides a stable foundation for developing simple payment verification (SPV) services on the BSV blockchain. According to the Bitcoin white paper, SPV enables users to process and validate transactions by just receiving a block header that contains the transaction, instead of downloading the entire blockchain or running a full node. This allows for less expensive and less hi-tech equipment to be able to ensure validation of transactions.

    “The implementation of SPV would cut out the need to retain and manage the entire set of blockchain data. And yet, we can only fully unleash SPV’s value once it has been implemented across the payments industry. And for that, we need standardization of Merkle proofs. The Merkle proof standard will ensure that all wallets and payment services using SPV apply the same protocols—if everybody did it their own way, it would hinder interoperability,” Lorien Gamaroff, CEO and co-founder of South Africa-based Centbee wallet, explained.

    “Once all wallets and payment services are using SPV, it will improve the user experience in many cases. It would also mean that businesses won’t all have to run their own nodes, which entails the expense and management of extensive infrastructure. Offline transactions also become possible; this is important for point-of-sale transactions where network connectivity might be an issue,” Gamaroff added.

    The Merkle Proof standard is just the first one to be published. Three other BSV technical standards—Paymail, Envelope Specification and Travel Rule Specification—are at various stages of the standardization process. The public can access the full details of the Merkle proof standard here.

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