Seeing how far we’ve come, it’s easy to forget that just a few days ago, we enjoyed the two-month anniversary of our Launch on November 12th, 2017. Since then, the Bitcoin Gold (BTG) coin has been listed in 46 markets on 26 exchanges and is supported by the top instant exchange platforms (ShapeShift and Changelly), which would not have been possible without our growing network of supported wallets (including top hardware wallets and a growing number of mobile and desktop wallets), as well custodial services that enable fiat exchange, such as Uphold. We’re grateful for their support, but we continue working hard and have big plans for this year.
Here at the Bitcoin Gold Organization, we’re keenly aware of the need to keep everyone apprised of what we’re doing and planning. To this end, we’ve been working on improving our communications, adding a discussion Forum for our community and launching Discord servers to improve real-time discussion. We’ve put out important updates to our core wallet software, now available on more platforms than ever before, and we’ve significantly expanded our global team, allowing us to make greater progress in a variety of avenues.
We’ll continue the focus on clarity and transparency today by sharing the latest information about our roadmap – not just our development roadmap, although that is crucial, but also our plans for the project and community.
Here are some main points and target timeframes:
There’s a lot going on in a great many areas! We’ll say a few words about some of them here, but you can expect to hear more details in the weeks and months to come.
We recently released our core wallet software update and will be releasing a fork of the Electrum Wallet tailored to Bitcoin Gold shortly. We’ll also be publishing open source libraries built for BTG under BitCore, BitcoinJS, BitcoinJ, and CoPay to make it easier for developers already working with those libraries to include Bitcoin Gold in their projects. Enabling others to develop with Bitcoin Gold is an high priority! (We’re also involved in actively assisting many third parties with their integration of Bitcoin Gold.)
Core protocol upgrades are on the roadmap. Bech32 addresses are an improvement on the original base58 addresses used in Bitcoin; the new addresses overcome some limitations and make addresses more compatible with today’s technologies (including SegWit and QR codes) as well being more human-friendly. We’ve prioritized Bech32 because it’s an important enabler for future development, including Lightning Network.
We expect to finalize the necessary integrations to fully implement Lightning Network on BTG in Q2. Lightning Network is an exciting and groundbreaking way to enable near-instant payments with even lower fees through dedicated side channels. Because they are off the main chain, Lightning Network saves space in the blocks – but it allows huge numbers of transactions between large entities at very low cost, and these transactions are nearly instant. This is extremely appealing to large entities interested in using BTG, but who need to be confident it can scale dramatically. We’re delivering what they need.
Note that Lightning Network requires SegWit, which is already fully supported by Bitcoin Gold. It also lays the groundwork for future developments, like RSK sidechains with Smart Contracts, and cross-chain atomic swaps, which are a way for individuals to directly perform a coin swap between two different cryptocurrency chains (effectively trading some of one coin for some of another without involving an exchange or third party.)
The next quarter will also bring support for P2Pool (a decentralized approach to mining pools.) Later in the year, the roadmap includes Schnorr Signatures and Merkelized Abstract Syntax Trees (MAST). Schnorr allows a frequent sender (like a bank or an exchange) to sign a hundred transactions in one batch rather than putting a hundred signatures on the blockchain. MAST are more complex, but simply put, they improve privacy and reduce the load on the blockchain when people use the scripting features already in the Bitcoin Protocol.
Transaction Privacy is an important topic. Currently, wallets and transactions on the Bitcoin Gold blockchain are pseudonymous, not anonymous – just like the original Bitcoin. Nobody can tell who owns a wallet by looking on the blockchain, but anyone can check the balance of a wallet, see where the coins came from and where they went.
There are arguments for keeping it his way – transparency and respectability, some would say. There are also arguments for true privacy. The Bitcoin Gold plan is not committed one way or the other at this point – it will be up to the community to decide which way to go in future development.
Sharing and Voting
The core improvements we’re working on are all of great interest in the broader Bitcoin and crypto worlds, not merely for Bitcoin Gold. Work we do will sometimes be applicable elsewhere, and vice-versa. We’ll also be involved in researching safe and scalable ways to address hard forks, and we’ll be working on ways to evolve smart voting mechanisms within our currency so that hard forks aren’t always necessary. This will allow us to decentralize the decision-making on questions like whether and when to add more smart contract functionality, to provide private transaction capabilities, and other topics applicable to a cryptocurrency.
Everyone knows development is the lifeblood of project like ours, so on top of offering bounties, we’ve directly hired more developers and are working to develop a strong community around BTG and crypto development. We’re starting a btg-dev mailing list and, to provide a structured way to handle future planning, we’ll be formalizing a Bitcoin Gold Improvement Proposal (BGIP) program.
We’re already offering bounties for people who find/fix bugs and improve core wallet features, but we’re also offering bounties for work done to enable more 3rd party services to integrate BTG more easily. We’ll keep trying to draw more developers into the community, and more eyes to our code.
The Ecosystem and Community
Many of the Development Roadmap items make clear our dedication to providing the tools service-providers need, but it’s important to note that we’re also actively involved in helping multiple providers who are working to add support right now. Interested parties should continue reaching out to us. We’re also looking into ways to make it easier for Bitcoin Gold users to interact with legacy (non-crypto) systems and traditional merchants in indirect ways – for example, by providing debit card programs.
We’re getting more and more involved with University and Research centers doing good work and helping train the next generation of developers and crypto entrepreneurs. We’re looking forward to sponsoring hackathons and competitions, and seeing what people can create. We’ll also be supporting the growing body of researchers working to create decentralized fiat-crypto brokerage networks.
On top of all that, we’re also looking to expand the base of crypto enthusiasts and independent developers by sponsoring meetups and conferences. We’ve also started a worldwide ambassador program which we’ve begun to roll out even as it evolves.
We’re dedicated to continuing all of this work – supporting the code Development, the Ecosystem, and the Community – over the long term. Our ability to execute and fund these endeavors will, of course, depend on the future value of our Endowment, but the community can rest assured that we’re doing our best to be good stewards of those funds. We’re always conscious of our responsibility to preserve value for the future while remembering that it’s necessary to spend today in order to fund the work that leads to that future value!
On top of all that, we’re also trying to spend a little time to improve our branding and website. It may seem trivial to some, but better design assets and a cleaner website really do make it easier for novices to become comfortable with new technologies, driving adoption. Introducing more people to the crypto world is also an important part of our mission., and will help continue the growth our industry enjoyed in 2017.
Here’s to a great 2018 for Bitcoin Gold, for the crypto world, and to our whole fantastic community!
Always looking forward,
The Bitcoin Gold Organization