Newly Created Industry Group Initiative Aims to Address Bitcoin Scalability Issues

News and Analysis

A team of Bitcoin engineers has announced the launch of the Bitcoin Operations Technology Group (Bitcoin Optech) addressing the problem of Bitcoin’s scalability, according to their statement published July 20.

Bitcoin Optech is a non-profit organization backed by leading industry players like Xapo CEO Wences Casares, executive of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. Ltd John Pfeffer, and New York-based cryptocurrency research and development group Chaincode Labs. The latter is also a major contributor to Bitcoin Core development.

The group is targeted to Bitcoin’s open source developers, exchanges, wallet providers and other industry players. The idea is to bring everyone together to hash out the best practices for adopting solutions like Segregated Witness, transaction batching and improved fee estimation.

“We’re calling the project Bitcoin Operations Technology Group because we want to focus on operational technical work, such as segwit usage, transaction batching, fee estimation and coin selection. We’re as excited about Lightning, Schnorr signatures, Taproot/Graftroot and scriptless scripts as any other Bitcoin engineers, but the project’s focus is on technology that can be deployed by companies today. As new technologies mature, we will help companies adopt and integrate them,” the official announcement reads.

In the future, Bitcoin Optech may perhaps also tackle the Lightning Network, Schnorr signatures and scriptless scripts, when these technologies become more mature.

As Bitcoin Magazine reports, the original idea for the group came out of an email Adam Back, CEO at Blockstream, sent to a list group late last year, after which John Newbery and James O’Beirne, developers at Chaincode Labs initiated the project.

So far, the group has produced four weekly newsletters and held its first workshop earlier this week in San Francisco. The workshop was attended by 17 people, mostly engineers, representing six prominent bitcoin companies in the Bay area. Optech says it will hold more workshops on the East Coast in the U.S. and in Europe and Asia.

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase was among the first to get on board with the idea.

“We’re excited to work with Optech on the effort to scale and improve bitcoin,” Brock Miller, lead bitcoin engineer at Coinbase, said in a statement. “By collaborating with leading engineers in this space, we’ll be able to achieve more than we could have by tackling these problems alone.”

Digital payment startup Square has also signed on as an Optech member.

“At Square we continue to explore ways cryptocurrency can expand financial access, and we’re excited to help foster a collaborative ecosystem for the benefit of all,” Mike Brock, strategic development lead at Square, said in a statement.

Moving forward, Optech also plans to host online forums, monitor the adoption of scaling protocols and produce a “Scaling Cookbook,” which will include guidelines for implementing bitcoin scaling technologies.

“Optech is the culmination of ideas from lots of different people, and we’re hoping that this will be a community effort with input from across the ecosystem,” said John Newbery.

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