This week’s newsletter summarizes continued discussion about enabling full RBF, provides overviews for several transcripts of discussions at a meeting, and describes a proposal for ephemeral anchor outputs designed for contract protocols like LN. Also included are our regular sections with summaries of popular questions and answers from the Bitcoin Stack Exchange, a list of new software releases and release candidates, and descriptions of notable changes to popular Bitcoin infrastructure software.


  • Continued discussion about full RBF: in last week’s newsletter, we summarized a discussion on the Bitcoin-Dev mailing list about the inclusion of a new mempoolfullrbf option that could create problems for several businesses which accept transactions with zero confirmations (“zero conf”) as final payments. Discussion continued this week on both the mailing list and the #bitcoin-core-dev IRC room. Some highlights of the discussion include:

    • Free option problem: Sergej Kotliar warned that he believes the greatest problem with any type of transaction replacement is that it creates a free American call option. For example, customer Alice requests to buy widgets from merchant Bob. Bob gives Alice an invoice for 1 BTC at the current price of $20,000 USD/BTC. Alice sends Bob the 1 BTC in a transaction with a low feerate. The transaction remains unconfirmed when the exchange rate changes to $25,000 USD/BTC, meaning Alice is now paying $5,000 more. At this point, she quite rationally chooses to replace her transaction with one paying the BTC back to herself, effectively canceling the transaction. However, if instead the exchange rate had changed in Alice’s favor (e.g. $15,000 USD/BTC), Bob can’t cancel Alice’s payment and so he has no way in the normal onchain Bitcoin transaction flow to exercise the same option, creating an asymmetric exchange rate risk. By comparison, when transaction replacement isn’t possible, Alice and Bob share the same exchange rate risk.

      Kotliar notes that the problem exists today with BIP125 opt-in RBF being available, but believes that full-RBF would make the problem worse.

      Greg Sanders and Jeremy Rubin replied in separate emails to note that merchant Bob could incentivize miners to confirm customer Alice’s original transaction using CPFP, particularly if package relay was enabled.

      Antoine Riard noted that the same risk exists with LN, as Alice could wait to pay merchant Bob’s invoice up until shortly before it expired, giving her time to wait for the exchange rate to change. Although in that case, if Bob noticed that the exchange rate had changed significantly, he could instruct his node not to accept the payment, returning the money to Alice.

    • Bitcoin Core not in charge of network: Gloria Zhao wrote in the IRC discussion, “I think whatever option we take, it should be made abundantly clear to users that Core does not control whether full RBF happens or not. We could revert 25353 and it could still happen. […]”

      After the meeting, Zhao also posted a detailed overview of the situation.

    • No removal means the problem could happen: in the IRC discussion, Anthony Towns echoed his points from last week, “if we’re not going to remove the mempoolfullrbf option from 24.0, we’re going for an uncoordinated deployment.”

      Greg Sanders was doubtful, “the question is: will 5%+ set a variable? I suspect not.” Towns replied, “UASF uacomment demonstrated it’s easy to get ~11% to set a variable in just a couple of weeks”.

    • Should be an option: Martin Zumsande said in the IRC discussion, “I think that if a meaningful number of node operators and miners want a specific policy, it shouldn’t be on the devs to tell them ‘you can’t have that now’. Devs can and should give a recommendation (by picking the default), but providing options to informed users should never be a problem.”

    As of this writing, no clear resolution had been reached. The mempoolfullrbf option is still included in the release candidates for the upcoming version of Bitcoin Core 24.0 and it is Optech’s recommendation that any service depending on zero conf transactions carefully evaluate the risks, perhaps starting by reading the emails linked in last week’s newsletter.

  • transcripts: prior to The Atlanta Bitcoin Conference (TabConf), about 40 developers participated in a event. Transcripts for about half of the meetings from the event have been provided by Bryan Bishop. Notable discussions included:

    • Transport encryption: a conversation about the recent update to the version 2 encrypted transport protocol proposal (see Newsletter #222). This protocol would make it harder for network eavesdroppers to learn which IP address originated a transaction and improve the ability to detect and resist man-in-the-middle attacks between honest nodes.

      The discussion covers several of the protocol design considerations and is a recommended read for anyone wondering why the protocol authors made certain decisions. It also examines the relationship to the earlier countersign authentication protocol.

    • Fees: a wide-ranging discussion about transaction fees historically, presently, and in the future. Some topics included queries about why blocks are seemingly almost always nearly full but the mempool isn’t, debate about how long we have for a significant fee market to develop before we have to worry about Bitcoin’s long-term stability, and what solutions we could deploy if we did believe a problem existed.

    • FROST: a presentation about the FROST threshold signature scheme. The transcript documents several excellent technical questions about the cryptographic choices in the design and may be useful reading for anyone interested in learning more about FROST specifically or cryptographic protocol design in general. See also the TabConf transcript about ROAST, another threshold signature scheme for Bitcoin.

    • GitHub: a discussion about moving the Bitcoin Core project’s git hosting from GitHub to another issue and PR management solution, as well as considering the benefits of continuing to use GitHub.

    • Provable specifications in BIPs: part of a discussion about using the hacspec specification language in BIPs to provide specifications that are provably correct. See also the transcript for a related talk during the TabConf.

    • Package and v3 transaction relay: the transcript of a presentation about proposals to enable package transaction relay and use new transaction relay rules to eliminate pinning attacks in certain cases.

    • Stratum v2: a discussion that started with the announcement of a new open-source project implementing the Stratum version 2 pooled mining protocol. Improvements made available by Stratum v2 include authenticated connections and the ability for individual miners (those with local mining equipment) to choose which transactions to mine (rather than the pool choosing transactions). In addition to many other benefits, it was mentioned in the discussion that allowing individual miners to choose their own block template might become highly desirable to pools that are worried about governments mandating which transactions can be mined, as in the Tornado Cash controversy. Most of the discussion focused on the changes that would need to be made to Bitcoin Core to enable native support for Stratum v2. See also the TabConf transcript about Braidpool, a decentralized pooled mining protocol.

    • Merging is a discussion about strategies to help get code reviewed in the Bitcoin Core project, although many suggestions also apply to other projects. Ideas included:

      • Break big changes into several small PRs

      • Make it easy for reviewers to understand the ultimate objective. For all PRs, this means writing a motivational PR description. For changes that are being made incrementally, use tracking issues, project boards, and motivate refactorings by also opening the PRs that will use that refactored code to accomplish a desirable goal

      • Produce high-level explainers for long-running projects describing the state before the project, the current progress, what it will take to accomplish the outcome, and the benefits that will provide to users

      • Form working groups with those who are interested in the same projects or code subsystems

  • Ephemeral anchors: Greg Sanders followed up previous discussion about v3 transaction relay (see Newsletter #220) with a post to the Bitcoin-Dev mailing containing a proposal for a new type of anchor output. A v3 transaction could pay zero fees but contain an output paying the script OP_TRUE, allowing anyone to spend it under the consensus rules in a child transaction. The unconfirmed zero-fee parent transaction would only be relayed and mined by Bitcoin Core if it was part of a transaction package which also contained the child transaction spending the OP_TRUE output. This would only affect Bitcoin Core’s policy; no consensus rules would be changed.

    Described advantages of this proposal include that it eliminates the need to use one-block relative timelocks (called 1 OP_CSV after the code used to enable them) to prevent transaction pinning and allows anyone to fee bump the parent transaction (similar to an earlier fee sponsorship soft fork proposal).

    Jeremy Rubin replied in support of the proposal but noted that it doesn’t work for any contract that can’t use v3 transactions. Several other developers also discussed the concept, all of them seeming to find it appealing as of this writing.

Selected Q&A from Bitcoin Stack Exchange

Bitcoin Stack Exchange is one of the first places Optech contributors look for answers to their questions—or when we have a few spare moments to help curious or confused users. In this monthly feature, we highlight some of the top-voted questions and answers posted since our last update.

Releases and release candidates

New releases and release candidates for popular Bitcoin infrastructure projects. Please consider upgrading to new releases or helping to test release candidates.

  • LDK 0.0.112 is a release of this library for building LN-enabled applications.

  • Bitcoin Core 24.0 RC2 is a release candidate for the next version of the network’s most widely used full node implementation. A guide to testing is available.

    Warning: this release candidate includes the mempoolfullrbf configuration option which several protocol and application developers believe could lead to problems for merchant services as described in the newsletters for this week and last week. Optech encourages any services that might be affected to evaluate the RC and participate in the public discussion.

Notable code and documentation changes

Notable changes this week in Bitcoin Core, Core Lightning, Eclair, LDK, LND, libsecp256k1, Hardware Wallet Interface (HWI), Rust Bitcoin, BTCPay Server, BDK, Bitcoin Improvement Proposals (BIPs), and Lightning BOLTs.

  • Bitcoin Core #23443 adds a new P2P protocol message, sendtxrcncl (send transaction reconciliation), that allows a node to signal to a peer that it supports erlay. This PR adds just the first part of the erlay protocol—other parts are needed before it can be used.

  • Eclair #2463 and #2461 update Eclair’s implementation of the interactive and dual funding protocols to require every funding input opt-in to RBF and also be confirmed (i.e. spend an output that’s already in the block chain). These changes ensure RBF can be used and that none of the fees contributed by an Eclair user will be used to help confirm any of their peer’s previous transactions.