Bitcoin Cash Community Explores Zero Confirmation Instant Transactions

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Over the past few weeks, the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) community and developers have floated using “zero-confirmation or “instant transactions” for the digital currency rivaling Bitcoin (BTC), News Bitcoin reported. 

Many BCH supporters believe that if the concept was widely accepted, payments and the transaction speed for BCH would be extremely fast, which as an effect would bring a significant competitive edge to the BCH network.

During a zero confirmation transaction, transactions are broadcasted throughout the network’s nodes but are not etched into the blockchain’s record, skipping the confirmation step. A confirmation or blockchain record doesn’t occur until a miner mines a block which contains the txid. The instant transaction question of whether it is possible or not is controversial because some people believe the idea would open retailers up to double spend attacks on the network. A double spend attack consists of spending the same transacted coin/token twice before the miner confirms the transaction’s first confirmation.

Traditionally it takes ten minutes on the Bitcoin blockchain to fully confirm; however, when blocks are full that time can be extended up to several days. Currently, even the Bitcoin Cash blockchain also has a wait time of ten minutes and blocks thus far have not been filled with a  block space of 8MB. For this reason, lots of BCH supporters believe Bitcoin Cash is a perfect network to start the widespread use of zero-confirmation transactions.

Another method that has been explored is storing the full transaction data in wallets which would shift the storage of full transaction data to wallets, previously expressed by former lead developer for Bitcoin, Gavin Andresen, as a “Storing the UTXO as a bit-vector.”

Bitcoin.com reports:

“About four years ago before bitcoin cash was even born, Gavin Andresen and Tom Harding wrote some code that created a relay for the BTC network that would prevent double spend attacks. This patch would allow the use of zero-confirmations in a much safer manner. The code was merged into the Bitcoin Core software but was later removed by Core developers. Core developers who removed Andresen and Harding’s patch from the equation then started claiming that zero-confirmation transactions were not safe. The Bitcoin Cash community believes that zero-confirmation attacks are reliable and secure.”

Earlier this year Andresen tweeted his support for Bitcoin Cash stating that the hard-forked cryptocurrency is what he started working on in 2010, referring to it as the chain “true to Satoshi’s original vision,” and a successor to his early work on the Bitcoin project.

In 2011, Gavin Andresen was chosen by Satoshi Nakamoto himself to inherit the role of lead developer for Bitcoin. Andresen had worked closely with Satoshi prior and his work is seen as integral to Bitcoin by many. In 2012, Andresen established the Bitcoin Foundation, before leaving his development role to more closely focus on the foundation. Since then, Andresen has become increasingly critical of Bitcoin Core, and has been a long time supporter of alternate Bitcoin protocol implementations.

Already businesses have started putting zero confirmation acceptance to the test by allowing customers to transact that way and the results have been surprisingly positive with no reported double spends. The firm Cryptonize.it offered a challenge to anyone willing to double spend on a $1,000 transaction and there was no reported winner. A person attempted it in the end and lost $2,000 worth of BCH as a result of the contest. Further, just recently the Chinese exchange Bitasia started allowing zero confirmation BCH deposits as well.

“Tom Harding recently discussed the concept of zero confirmation transactions during his speech at the Satoshi’s Vision Conference in Tokyo. Harding’s discussion called ‘Native Respend Resistance’ discussed how the network could prevent double spends and allow the network to allow instant payments before they are verified by a miner. Harding says zero-confirms work on the BCH chain but he doesn’t know how many people are trying to double spend. Harding emphasizes the BCH community needs to be vigilant. The XT developer details how he experimented with these types of transactions, and explains his opinion of the maximum advisable value for a zero-confirmation transaction,” Bitcoin.com further reported.

“That should be decided by the merchants themselves but generally the value should be much less than the cost to attack it,” Harding stated during the end of his talk.

Some people in the cryptosphere believe the next BCH upgrade will address zero confirmation transactions and possibly add some code that introduces further preventive measures against double spending.

We know that lead developers of Bitcoin Cash have made “tentative” plans to increase the cryptocurrency’s block size again next year, according to their midterm development plan which shows a six to 12-month roadmap released last year.

According to that the development plan the team seeks to schedule a protocol upgrade May 15th, 2018:

  1. “We will schedule a protocol upgrade when Median Time Past reaches timestamp 1526400000 (May 15, 2018), and a subsequent upgrade for 6-months later when Median Time Past reaches 1542300000 (November 15, 2018).

  2. We will finalize the code and features to be included in the upgrade by three months prior to the upgrade (Feb 15, 2018).

  3. Some of the features tentatively planned for the next upgrade are:

    • Increase default block-size limit, and move towards adaptive block size limit

    • Move toward canonical transaction order, perhaps removing transaction ordering consensus rule as a first step.

    • Improved Difficulty Adjustment Algorithm

    • Re-activate some deactivated Opcodes, and move toward adding protocol extension points to facilitate future Opcode upgrades”

Bitcoin Cash development didn’t stop at this initial split, it appears developers have announced other plans to improve the cryptocurrency, which have been added to the overall new roadmap.

Note that the specifics of which features will be included is dependent on further discussion, implementation, and testing.

It is now even possible to use Bitcoin Cash without a digital wallet, only having a phone number with CoinText to transact with the digital currency, which just launched its open beta. Combine this with zero confirmation transactions and BCH will have fulfilled Satoshi’s original vision of becoming “A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” described in the Bitcoin whitepaper.

Bitcoin Cash is currently trading at [FIAT: $707.58] while BTC its rival is trading at [FIAT: $7,442.32] according to Coin Market Cap at the time of this report.

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