Bitcoin is expected to complete the latest phase on its scaling journey today, with the Segregated Witness, or SegWit, proposals set to lock in on the network.
While the proposals are yet to reach the required threshold of miner support, it is expected to reach the required level later today, provided sufficient numbers of miners continue to show their support for the model.
The development comes as the latest stage in bitcoin’s ongoing scaling process, following on from the blockchain forks of earlier this month.
A miner-activated hard fork earlier led to the creation of Bitcoin Cash, an alternative version of bitcoin that proponents regard as being closer to the future envisaged by earlier pioneers of the currency.
At the same time, approval for the SegWit2x scaling proposals were endorsed by the community on the whole, which has led to at least a temporary respite from the scaling issues that had plagued the network.
The lock-in is a significant milestone in its own right, which would mark the beginning of the activation process for the protocol, which sends transactional information outside of the blockchain to help counter scaling limitations.
While the lock-in looks set to be confirmed later today, thanks to generous incentives for miners to get on board, formal activation isn’t expected until block 481,824, which is currently projected to fall around August 21.
The lock-in will require significant upgrades of existing technologies and infrastructure to support the new types of blockchain data created when the SegWit model comes into effect, and even beyond the activation date it may take some time for the proposals to be fully adopted and implemented.
While SegWit has managed to gather the widespread momentum required to effect change on the network, it is not without its critics.
In particular, some segments of the community feel removing the block size restrictions on the current infrastructure would be a more effective way of permanently resolving the scaling debate, without the need for significant changes in supporting infrastructure.
Others fear the SegWit protocol may serve only as a short-term fix, and point to the need for further updates in future if the network continues to struggle to cope with additional volumes.
Nevertheless, the SegWit protocol is expected to lock-in later today at block 479,708, in what will go down as another landmark day in the development of bitcoin.