In his latest Q&A on March 24th, 2018, Bitcoin evangelist, educator, and influencer Andreas Antonopoulos explains what the cryptocurrency industry needs next and his expectations for Bitcoin development.
4 Basic Things Bitcoin Must Have
Antonopoulos begins the Q&A by noting, partly in jest, that the industry does not need “some kind of artificially intelligent, neural network based, 3D printing, drone-based Mars expedition.”
Instead, he states:
The truth is that the most important projects at this stage are really basic, basic infrastructure projects.
According to Antonopoulos, the four key things that the Bitcoin industry does need are more exchanges, continued wallet development, usable ATMs, and education systems.
Antonopoulos feels that exchanges cannot be truly global, they are attached to local culture, language, currency, and regulation and as such, every country needs 3-4 exchanges. Multiple exchanges would serve as “on ramps and off ramps” to sustain liquidity and activity in the cryptocurrency market and provide healthy competition. That’s 800 exchanges worldwide, not counting specialist exchanges.
As Antonopoulos explains:
This economy is not yet self-sustaining it can’t operate entirely within the cryptocurrency domain, I think one day it will be, but not yet.
Ongoing wallet development is another area where improvements need to be made – especially when it comes to onboarding cryptocurrency newcomers. Specifically, wallets that are secure, easy to use, intuitive, and which use the latest cutting-edge technology and are able to handle different types of fees and provide fee estimation are sorely needed.
Antonopoulos makes an excellent argument that wallets are the “front end” of the Bitcoin industry and that for most new users, their first experience with cryptocurrencies will be through a wallet of some kind. He goes on to point out that:
If the user interface sucks, if it is confusing, if it causes security problems, if it has problems with certain features, if it’s not using the latest technology, then [people] will have difficulty using cryptocurrency.
As the market matures reliable, ATMs with reasonable fees are required for cash and instant transactions. Right now, many users find when they arrive at an ATM it’s simply not working, or the premiums are incredibly high.
Antonopoulos didn’t expand on this point, but it’s clear from his renowned speaking in the crypto-space and his teaching of the M.Sc. Digital Currencies at the University of Nicosia that he believes the world needs exposure to cryptocurrencies and the technology behind them.
What’s Next for Bitcoin?
In addition to discussing critical projects that are needed by the Bitcoin industry, Antonopoulos also discussed not-so-distant future developments that may be in store for Bitcoin Core.
MAST and Schnorr
Antonopoulos expects Merkelized Abstract Syntax Trees (MAST) to be implemented early in 2018. The upgrade was recently approved by the Bitcoin Core development team and the code is ready for testing. MAST implementation would allow for the verification of one element of a program, or chain, without needing the whole chain to be present. This reduces transaction size, increases privacy, and makes smart contracts possible.
Schnorr signatures and signature aggregation are the “most likely” upgrades to follow MAST due to their optimization capabilities. Schnorr signatures would replace Bitcoin’s existing signature protocol with one that combines signature data and would optimize space on the Bitcoin blockchain. Schnorr again works to solve the issues of speed and scalability which plague Bitcoin.
A Bitcoin Hard Fork in 2018?
Antonopoulos also predicts that although SegWit increases block size, a more permanent block size increase via a hard fork could be in the cards for Bitcoin in 2018:
Yes, I do think the block size will go for one megabyte. In fact, right now the block size is over one megabyte, SegWit was a block size increase, but I expect we’re going to see additional block size increases including ones implemented with a hard fork.
Do you agree with Antonopoulos? What do you think 2018 will bring for Bitcoin?
Image courtesy of Shutterstock, Wikimedia Commons