The 16th major code release for the Bitcoin Core network, version 0.16.0, is here, and with major updates for Segregated Witness (SegWit).

SegWit is often referred to as one of the major updates that could help resolve Bitcoin network’s scaling issues that have led to longer transaction times, higher transaction fee, and an overall effect of keeping Bitcoin from the running of cryptocurrencies that could be used for everyday transactions.

Having been in development for a long time, SegWit eventually saw its long-awaited eventual deployment in August 2017, and with this 0.16.0 update, could benefit from wider user adoption across the Bitcoin network.

While the Bitcoin Core 0.16.0 update, similar to its predecessors, comprises of a slew of bug fixes and performance improvements along with other changes that are aimed at enhancing the user experience, they also contain major updates for SegWit, which is what we are covering through this overview.

A few new features

One of the major features that are introduced through Bitcoin Core 0.16.0 is the complete availability of SegWit through its wallet interface.

The SegWit features were previously available on the command line, but will now be in the wallet’s user interface as well and will allow complete functionality to all users so that anyone can utilize them.

The new features will allow wallet users to have SegWit addresses generated for them, which would allow them to receive payments using the additional features of SegWit, such as its added block space.

This would work towards resolving the higher transaction fee issue, and would significantly solve the issues that Bitcoin users face with regular transactions.

Another feature that was introduced is the utility of “bech32” addresses, which are shorter than conventional addresses, eliminating the difference between uppercase and lowercase characters, and also provide support to transmit less data when transactions are performed via SegWit.  

However, since the support for bech32 addresses has not been widely adopted by all wallets, users will get the option to choose between the bech32 address and the “P2SH” addresses that are the currently followed protocol (for nontechnical users, the addresses that begin with “bc1” are bech32 addresses).

The update also makes the already existing “replace-by-fee” as the default option while initiating transactions (other options are still available through the respective menu). This is to ensure that any priority Bitcoin transactions that require a higher fee to be processed as compared to the provided estimate could eventually benefit from this feature and do not get stuck in line with miners.

The feature will help users significantly because miners prioritize those transactions which have a higher transaction fee associated with them. This feature will ensure that any transactions that are affected by incorrect estimate – which is another problem on the Bitcoin network – do not get their processing time compromised due to that issue.

Apart from these major changes, the Bitcoin Core 0.16.0 update contains a few more features, a complete list of which is available here.

Segwit’s effects on bitcoin network

The recent updates which aim to make transaction processes infinitely better and effective will go a long way in making Bitcoin a transaction-friendly network in addition to being home to a high-value cryptocurrency.

That is why the Bitcoin community looks forward to seeing how these updates coupled with the Lightning Network could essentially reshape the Bitcoin transaction capacity.

The promise is very much there. The supporters of Bitcoin hope that the execution is there too.