Qtum combines Bitcoin’s (BTC) security with Ethereum’s (ETH) programmability in one platform.
One of the most innovative aspects of Qtum is that users can “enjoy both Bitcoin and Ethereum updates.” One of these new updates happens to Bitcoin’s Taproot.
As explained in a blog post, Taproot may “go down as one of the most significant upgrades in Bitcoin’s history, along with SegWit.” Taproot aims “to improve the privacy and efficiency of the Bitcoin network significantly.”
It will also “simplify the creation and execution of smart contracts on the Bitcoin blockchain, paving the way for Bitcoin DeFi.” On 21st June 2021, Bitcoin miners “signaled their support for Taproot.” The upgrade officially “happened via a soft fork at block 709,632 on 14th November 2021.”
As noted in the update, Taproot is the “collective name” given to three different upgrades:
- BIP 340: Schnorr Signatures
- BIP 341: Taproot
- BIP 342: Tapscript
- BIP 340: Schnorr Signatures
Schnorr signatures help “improve overall Bitcoin scalability by implementing smaller, more secure, and flexible cryptographic signatures.” Instead of the blockchain recording all its participants’ public keys and signatures, Schnorr will now “empower the protocol to store a single aggregated public key and a single aggregated signature.” This will “make the Bitcoin blockchain considerably lighter.”
As mentioned in the announcement, Taproot introduces Merklized Alternative Script Trees (MAST) to Bitcoin. This, again, helps “reduce blockchain bloat since MAST only allows the executed conditions of a smart contract transaction to be committed on-chain rather than the full details.”
Taproot’s MAST allows Bitcoin to:
Offer greater privacy to users. Auditors will be “unable to watch unexecuted transactions.”
As unnecessary details aren’t recorded on-chain, “it increases scalability.”
BIP342 — Tapscript
Tapscript is “the updated Bitcoin script language.” It helps “incorporate Schnorr Signatures and Taproot technology into Bitcoin transaction parameters.” The increased complexity afforded by Tapscript allows Bitcoin “to write and deploy smart contracts easily.” Plus, Schnorr signatures will “enable Bitcoin to host smart contracts with multiple signatures without bloating the blockchain.”
By opting for a UTXO-based EVM platform, Qtum has “adopted one of the most complex yet flexible blockchain architectures.”
It is flexible since Qtum users can “benefit from both Bitcoin and Ethereum upgrades. However, it is easier said than done.” All Ethereum upgrades must be “incorporated in a UTXO-compatible scenario, while all Bitcoin updates must be deployed in an EVM system.”
This is doubly challenging “for a complicated update like Taproot. It is a testament to Qtum’s core devs that they were able to deploy such a complex Bitcoin-based update in EVM’s ecosystem.” This feat of engineering excellence will “open the doors for unprecedented development potential on Qtum.”
In fact, they have already “seen taproot in action on Qtum.”
This is “the first ever taproot transaction on Qtum. Here is “the first-ever QTUM spent using taproot.” Due to the delicate nature of the update, Qtum had “carefully monitored its taproot implementation over the last month to ensure that everything worked smoothly.”
It is “safer to say now that the update has been properly implemented and is ready for action,” the developers claim.