After a series of pre-release evaluations, Bitcoin ABC has finally released its new software version, 0.16.2. The update now includes the CashAddr Address Format, a new encoding of the previous format which followed the SegWit1x (BTC), also known as old legacy Bitcoin, address format.
First proposed in October, the new address format is a base32 encoded format using BCH codes as checksum. The format accommodates direct hyperlinks and QR codes for cross-device and print compatibility. It reuses the code for Bech32 and retains certain aspects of its master branch.
What’s different about the CashAddr format is with how it uses a visual cue to help users distinguish between BTC addresses and Bitcoin Cash addresses at a glance. The CashAddr format now uses a semantic prefix. The prefix [bitcoincash] indicates the network on which the address is recognized as valid, in this case the main net. The prefixes [bchtest] and [bchreg] are also deployed for the bitcoin cash testnet and regtest, respectively.
Bitcoin ABC encourages all Bitcoin Cash users to update to the new format, though this falls under their discretion, as wallet incompatibility errors may occur. A way to work around this is by using an address converter tool. Bitcoin ABC recommends using bitcoincash.org’s trusted converter tool. Using other reliable converters such as Electron Cash 3.1 is also recommended to avoid any malicious attempts to point transactions to other addresses.
Using the legacy address similar to BTC’s format will still work, however, the new address format has better security features, according to Bitcoin ABC. The old format will soon be deprecated and become archived as a base format. Beneath the new encoding, the raw public key hash (pubkeyHash) for each Bitcoin Cash user’s wallet is retained. The new format is case-insensitive, making it easier for users to type and communicate. The format is also open and extensible, giving it a space for modularity and compatibility for future functionalities appended to the Bitcoin Cash ecosystem.
Aside from the added security features and there’s no significant difference as the new format is just a new kind of encoding, Bitcoin Cash users will still experience the same fast, low-cost, and secure transactions.
The Bitcoin Cash development community formed this consensus to create a new type of address format in order to reduce errors and confusion. Given the performance of Bitcoin Cash since its launch as a cryptocurrency designed according to Satoshi Nakamoto’s vision of cost-efficient peer-to-peer transactions, this upgrade comes as a welcome change for the growing community.