After a years-long development process and even more debate and political struggle, Segregated Witness finally activated on the Bitcoin network last week. The protocol upgrade introduced a number of benefits which can enable more advanced second-layer protocols. It also offers a block size limit increase for wallets that utilize the new feature, meaning users can enjoy lower fees and faster confirmation times.
One week in, Segregated Witness has been implemented in several wallets, though overall adoption is off to a bit of a slow start. While many wallets and services indicated prior to the activation that they would be ready for the upgrade, many are taking a bit of a conservative approach when it comes to main-net release, while others have since faced unrelated difficulties that demanded their attention.
So far, hardware wallets are among the first to have jumped on the new opportunity. Both Trezor and Ledger have fully implemented and enabled Segregated Witness. This is not very surprising: Hardware wallets stand to benefit from SegWit more than most wallets, as it helps to significantly speedup the signing process.
“But we mostly implemented Segregated Witness to help the network first,” Ledger CTO Nicolas Bacca told Bitcoin Magazine. “The more Segregated Witness transactions are used, the more space there is for everybody. In a way we’re also doing our part to disarm the 2x part of the SegWit2x hard fork.”
Another hardware wallet provider, Digital Bitbox, also implemented Segregated Witness in its firmware, cofounder and Bitcoin Core contributor Jonas Schnelli told Bitcoin Magazine, but it still requires a compatible desktop app to utilize the feature. This is a work in progress.
Full node wallets like Bitcoin Core are also in the process of implementing Segregated Witness. But Bitcoin Core developers decided to not include the feature straight away in order to avoid edge-case attacks that become harder to execute as time passes. Bitcoin Core will instead release a new version of the software, 0.15.1; this could take another month or two before it’s available.
“It’s days away,” GreenAddress developer Lawrence Nahum told Bitcoin Magazine. “We were ready a while back; however, during testing we found that fees were a bit higher in one of our wallets. That’s because some software libraries available now weren’t available when we implemented SegWit. At this point it’s mostly a matter of more testing.”
Most other wallets are also in various stages of implementing the feature, but for various reasons haven’t gotten to the point of release quite yet. In some cases, like BitGo and BTC.com, this had to do with the prioritization of integrating Bitcoin Cash into their service; the new cryptocurrency launched unexpectedly only a couple of weeks ago. Similarly, Mycelium told Bitcoin Magazine it has been implementing new features which diverted some time and attention away from SegWit.
Other popular wallets, including Bitcoin Wallet (also known as Schildbach’s Bitcoin Wallet), Breadwallet, Electrum, mSIGNA, as well as webwallet Xapo confirmed that they are implementing SegWit, and all told Bitcoin Magazine that they expect this should be available soon — though none gave a specific timeframe for it.
Aaron van Wirdum is interested in technology and how it affects social and political structures. He has been covering Bitcoin since 2013, focusing on privacy, scalability and more. Hodls BTC.