Tech 5 February 2018Vince Dioquino
Widespread adoption of Cashaddr format spurs upgrades, new tools
As the Bitcoin Cash network heads into a new phase of maturity, its community and developers continue to work on a set of new features that would improve Bitcoin Cash users’ experience. One of the new features that the network’s users may now utilize is the new address format named ‘Cashaddr.’
This new serialization protocol for naming addresses within the Bitcoin Cash network makes the addresses distinctively recognizable. This feature helps avoid human errors as well as provide extensions for future functionalities currently being developed for the network. Machine errors like sending BCH to a legacy BTC address may also be avoided with the protocol’s internal verification.
Since it was introduced and officially implemented two weeks ago, the Cashaddr format has attracted several businesses and service providers that support the Bitcoin Cash network, with some organizations promising future upgrades while they study its impact on their products. However, this new implementation was also met with some friction by hardware wallet companies that have decided to update P2PKH and P2SH address versions while keeping the same format or reuse Bech32-based encoding for their wallets. Other hardware wallets companies are of the opinion that the protocol update will “break compatibility with most of the existing systems, which will make it even less interesting for merchants, users, etc.”
Despite these varying reactions from the cryptocurrency industry, the Bitcoin Cash community has adjusted to the upgrade in BCH infrastructure, remaining steadfast to its vision of unrestricted growth, global adoption, permissionless innovation, and decentralized development. All Cashaddr addresses are linked to a “legacy address” in the Bech32 format, and the changes with the prefix and notation won’t affect a user’s private and public keys.
At the time of writing, integrations with the new Bitcoin Cash Cashaddr address format have been implemented with wallets and exchanges like Bitcoin.com, BitPay and Copay, Coinomi, Coinbase, Electron Cash, Blockchain.info, Stash Wallet, and BTC.com wallet; full node implementations like Bitcoin ABC and Bitcoin Unlimited, as well as block explorers like Bitcoin.com’s new BCH tool, Blockchair, and Blockdozer. Announcements from mobile-based clients like Unit have listed the address protocol upgrade in their future roadmaps.
Shapeshift.io, the exchange company which also owns KeepKey, a hardware wallet brand, has not issued any statement addressing user requests for the new implementation. As of writing, the firmware for KeepKey’s hardware wallets has already been upgraded.
Asked whether this new implementation had a one-to-one mapping protocol, Bitcoin ABC’s developers stated that “any legacy Bitcoin address format will convert to one and only one Cashaddr format, and the same is true in reverse. So there will always be two versions (legacy and Cashaddr) of any given address, and they are interchangeable because they correspond to the same set of private and public keys.”
Adoptions of the new format has spread swiftly in the Bitcoin Cash ecosystem, with some wallets allowing users to simply toggle between the legacy format (based on Bech32) and the new Cashaddr format. In case users get confused, Bitcoincash.org has provided a simple tool for converting between the two formats. For offline use, the Electron Cash 3.1 client also has a built-in Bitcoin Cash address converter.
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.
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