Bitcoin Block Size Increase
3 min read

Bitcoin Block Size Increase a Medium Term Possibility

By Editorial Team

According to one of the most well-known people in the Bitcoin community, the block size increase could be seen as some sort of a medium term solution provided there was enough testing.

Adam Back is the CEO of Blockstream and was even mentioned in the original Bitcoin white paper by Satoshi Nakamoto. He made the statement in response to a tweet from the CEO of Bitmain, Jihan Wu, one of the largest Bitcoin mining companies. This was in the context of the massive increase in fees and transaction times over the weekend.

The comment that Adam made on the “spamming” of the network was in the context of the accusations that miners were flooding the Bitcoin memepool with low value transactions.

No Permanent Solution

There has been some misconception that Bitcoin core is fundamentally opposed to an increase in the blocksize limit. The possible increase was a position that Back held in 2014 when he said that increasing the limit could be a viable solution for on chain scaling.

Although this could be seen as a temporary solution to scaling, most of the developers are of the view that it cannot be a permanent one. This is because merely increasing the size of a block can always be done and exhausted. There will eventually come an upper limit by which no more block size increases can be facilitated.

Another really important reason as to why the core developers are opposed to perpetual increase is because of the centralization effects of larger block sizes. If the block size is increased at the same rate as which users are added to the platform then there will come a point where an individual node will not be able to properly validate the blocks.

This is because the time that it takes a node to validate a block will increase substantially when the block size is increased. The Bitcoin blockchain works because you have a decentralised network of these nodes that are trying to validate these transactions inside the blocks. If the smaller nodes take much longer than the estimated 10 minutes to verify then they could be eliminated from the network.

As they are squeezed out of the network, there are fewer people who can participate and the nodes become much more centralised. This centralisation is the antithesis of Bitcoin as it would mean that this small group of nodes could act in a “malicious” manner.

While these are all theoretical constructs, one can see the rationale behind appropriate testing before any major protocol changes.

More Sustainable Solutions

One of the reasons that the block size increase has been such a contentious issue is because there are other solutions that are already in the works. There are many who contend that there are companies in the ecosystem who are not giving these solutions a try.

One of these is the implementation of Segregated Witness transactions.

These allow for substantial space to be created in the blocks by stripping out the witness (header information). Currently, there is not that much support for these transactions by the large Bitcoin companies. This means the full benefits cannot be properly felt yet.

There are also many people who see the lightning network as the best off chain scaling solution. This would allow for the creation of private payment channels that could take strain off of the network as transactions take place off chain.

Whether these will solve the scaling debate in the long term is uncertain, but they do warrant adoption before the block size question is raised again.

Featured Image via Fotolia

Editors at large. Posting the latest news, reviews and analysis to hit the blockchain.
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