The BSV Technical Standards Committee (TSC) has completed the publication of the Merkle Proof standard under the OpenBSV license, which is the first-ever BSV technical standard. This big news is announced during the recently concluded CoinGeek Conference held in Zurich, Switzerland, by nChain CTO and TSC Chairman Steve Shadders and Two Hop Ventures founder and TSC founding member Alex Fauvel.
The BSV TSC
Headed by Shadders, the TSC is composed of 10 individuals from seven countries and different sectors within the BSV ecosystem. It encourages the active participation of the BSV community in the creation of global standards to fulfill its objectives. The TSC mission is “to promote technical excellence and improve BSV utility by enhancing interoperability, through standardization,” and the publication of the Merkle Proof standard is a huge step towards this goal of interoperability.
The standardization process involves three stages: submission of ideas, internal and public reviews, and publication. First, the TSC collects proposals and ideas from members of the BSV community—anyone is encouraged to submit suggestions of what they need in their industry. The second stage involves the actual drafting of the proposed technical standard. Once a draft has been made, it goes through a series of internal reviews that includes all kinds of legalities, such as intellectual property. TSC members sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to ensure everything is kept confidential.
“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,” Fauvel explained.
Even though a standard has already been published, it can still be revised or even withdrawn if necessary. “It’s simply a matter of somebody articulating an industry need for either an update or a replacement of a standard, and that gets submitted and will be evaluated by stakeholders, not just by the TSC,” Shadders said.
The Merkle Proof Standard
This standardized format indicates the data structure that stores the Merkle proof data during its transfer between users, like what transpires in simple payment verification (SPV) wallets that allow for greater interoperability between platforms and applications. The Merkle proof makes SPV possible, which is indispensable to BSV’s core functionality that enables users to validate BSV payments without having to run a full Bitcoin node or download the entire blockchain.
“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 pointed out.
“It is critical to peer-to-peer interaction because part of that interaction means sending bits of information with Merkle proofs attached, so that means many different wallets need to support it. So, if everyone is implementing it in a different way, then every time you want to attach to a service, you’ve got to work out a new way of doing it,” Shadders added.