The biggest protocol upgrade in years for the world’s biggest cryptocurrency is expected to “lock in” early next month after about 95 per cent of all mining power began signalling to the upgrade.

Bitcoin‘s Taproot upgrade will change the way the network handles complex transactions, such as those involving multiple parties or those sent with a mandatory waiting period known as a “timelock”. The changes involve a device called Schnorr signatures to make those transactions indistinguishable from simpler ones by on-chain analysis. The data required will also be smaller, reducing Bitcoin transaction fees.

The upgrade should take place in November, provided that 90 per cent of Bitcoin mining power signals for Taproot during the next two-week Bitcoin “epoch”, which begins this weekend.

As of yesterday, more than 95 per cent of all mining power had begun signalling for Taproot, so developers expect the upgrade to pass.

If for some reason Taproot isn’t activated in the next epoch, there’s a few more chances left in subsequent fortnights. Taproot must be voted in by August or it goes back to the drawing board.

Taproot would be the biggest upgrade to Bitcoin since the contentious SegWit debate in 2017, an upgrade that allowed for the creation of the Lightning Network to help solve Bitcoin’s scaling issues.

SegWit was eventually activated in August 2017, leading to a 50 per cent rally in the price of Bitcoin over a week.

But in the aftermath of that bitter debate, a breakaway camp of mostly China-based miners who favoured a different scaling solution created the Bitcoin spinoff Bitcoin Cash.

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