During the most recent CoinGeek Conference held in Zurich, Switzerland, BSV Technical Standards Committee (TSC) chairman and nChain CTO Steve Shadders has announced that the TSC has just published the Merkle Proof standard under the OpenBSV license, its very first standard to be out in publication. This is a milestone in BSV history as having its own standard allows for greater accessibility and interoperability of its platforms and applications.
The Process of Creating a BSV Standard
The process of publication has three stages. The first stage involves getting community input from BSV developers and stakeholders, wherein a sort of brainstorming occurs and anyone within the BSV ecosystem can submit their ideas. Once that is done, it enters the second stage wherein the actual technical standards proposal is drafted. After the draft has been completed, it goes through several internal reviews, which include reviewing intellectual property and other legalities. A non-disclosure agreement is also signed in order to preserve the security of the proposal. Once it passes through the internal review, the proposed standardized format then goes through a public review.
“Once we’re happy with the first draft and that’s done several cycles, we then publish it into the public where the public has a chance to comment on it. That is a two-month period and once we’ve incorporated that feedback, if it’s needed, we will publish it, which is the third stage. We then monitor the uptake of it in the industry to either rubber-stamp it and say we recommend the standard or we withdraw it, which we hope to not be doing,” Alex Fauvel, TSC founding member and Two Hop Ventures founder, said.
The Significance of the Merkle Proof Standard
The Merkle Proof standard is a format that allows for better interoperability of BSV payments across platforms in the BSV ecosystem, as well as provides improved accessibility for competitors and users. How so? Like any other industry, a standard format permits different firms and brands to work with each other. Shadders provides a great analogy to better understand this significance.
“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 explained.
“Every wallet can implement the existing standard for Merkle proofs—that means they are able to instantly communicate with all of the other wallets that have implemented it, some of which they might not even have thought of. That includes wallets that do not exist yet and may be built in the future,” Shadders added.
Merkle proofs are crucial in enabling and further developing simple payment verification (SPV), which is integral to BSV’s core utility. With SPV, users can validate transactions without having to download the entire blockchain. Without Merkle proofs, this process cannot be completed without downloading the complete blockchain—and this requires a more specialized equipment. Hence, Merkle proofs make it possible for BSV users to confidently run an SPV “light node” on less expensive hardware, with the ability to check the validity of these transactions.
“Aside from a Bitcoin block header, a Merkle proof is probably one of the most fundamental data structures in Bitcoin. It’s what allows you to prove that a transaction is connected to a block, i.e., prove that miners have accepted that transaction, so there are a lot of different reasons why you would want to exchange a Merkle proof between parties,” Shadders further explained.
This prevents siloed ecosystems in the same way that there is a standard DVD format that is used by different brands, allowing for interoperability and healthy competition to flourish. Having published the first BSV standard is a significant step towards the global enterprise adoption of the BSV blockchain. The complete details of the Merkle Proof standard can be found here.