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Bitcoin Optech Newsletter #236
This week’s newsletter summarizes a proposal for serverless payjoin and describes an idea for allowing proof of payment for LN async payments. Also included is our regular section with descriptions of notable changes to popular Bitcoin infrastructure software.
● Serverless payjoin proposal: Dan Gould posted to the Bitcoin-Dev mailing list a proposal and proof of concept implementation for a serverless version of BIP78, the payjoin protocol.
Without payjoin, a typical Bitcoin payment only includes inputs from the spender, leading to transaction surveillance organizations adopting the common input ownership heuristic where they assume all inputs in a transaction belong to the same wallet. Payjoin breaks this heuristic by allowing the receiver to contribute inputs to the payment. This provides an immediate privacy improvement to the users of payjoin and generally improves the privacy of all Bitcoin users by making the heuristic less reliable.
However, payjoin isn’t as flexible as typical Bitcoin payments. Most typical payments can be sent when the receiver is offline, but payjoin requires the receiver to be online to contribute and sign for their inputs. The existing payjoin protocol also requires the receiver to accept HTTP requests at a network address accessible to the spender, which is commonly accomplished by the receiver running a webserver on a public IP address which contains payjoin-compatible software. As mentioned in Newsletter #132, one suggestion for increasing the use of payjoin would be to allow payjoin on a more P2P basis between typical end-user wallets.
Gould suggests building into payjoin-compatible wallets a lightweight HTTP server with noise protocol encryption support plus the ability to use the TURN protocol to traverse NAT. This would allow two wallets to communicate interactively for the brief period it takes to create a payjoin payment, with no need for a long-term webserver. This does not allow payjoins to be created while the receiver is offline, although Gould does suggest investigating the nostr protocol for future proposals to enable “async payjoin”.
As of this writing, no replies to the proposal have been posted to the mailing list.
● LN async proof of payment: as mentioned in last week’s newsletter, LN developers are seeking a method for sending async payments that provide the spender with proof they paid the receiver. An async payment allows a spender (Alice) to send an LN payment to a receiver (Bob) through a normal series of forwarding hops—including a Lightning Service Provider (LSP) that will hold the payment for Bob if he is offline at the moment. When Bob notifies the LSP that he’s back online, the LSP will begin forwarding the payment the rest of the way to Bob.
A challenge with this approach in the current HTLC-based LN is that, if Bob is offline, he can’t provide Alice with a payment-specific invoice that references a secret he’s chosen. Alice can instead choose her own secret and include it in the async payment she sends Bob—this is called a keysend payment—but since Alice knew the keysend secret all along, she can’t use her knowledge of it as proof that she paid Bob. Alternatively, Bob could pre-generate several standard invoices and give them to his LSP, who could distribute them to potential spenders like Alice. Paying those invoices would generate proof of payment when Bob ultimately accepted payment, but it would allow the LSP to distribute the same invoice to several spenders, causing them all to pay the same secret. When the LSP learned the secret as a consequence of Bob accepting the first of those payments, the LSP would be able to steal payments for the remainder of the payments to the reused invoice—making the pre-generated invoice solution for HTLCs only secure if Bob trusts his LSP.
This week, Anthony Towns proposed a solution based on signature adaptors. This would depend on the planned upgrade of LN to use PTLCs. Bob would pre-generate a series of signature nonces and give them to his LSP. The LSP would give a signature nonce to Alice, Alice would choose a message for her proof of payment (e.g. “Alice paid Bob 1000 sats at 2023-02-01 12:34:56Z”), and then use Bob’s nonce and her message to generate a signature adaptor for her PTLC. When Bob comes back online, the LSP forwards him the payment and Bob verifies the nonce hasn’t been used before, that he agrees with the message, that the payment is otherwise valid, and that the signature adaptor math is valid; he then accepts the payment and Alice, when she ultimately receives the settled PTLC, will have a signature from Bob that commits to her chosen message.
Towns’s solution involves the LSP receiving pre-generated invoices from Bob—this is similar to the insecure/trusted solution for HTLCs, yet the PTLC signature adaptor solution is secure and trustless because each payment from a different spender (like Alice) uses a different PTLC public key point and Bob is able to prevent nonce reuse. Each PTLC point is different because it derives from a unique message selected by each spender. Bob is able to prevent nonce reuse by checking for reused nonces before he accepts each payment.
In his post, Towns references two previous mailing list posts he’s written about LN proof of payment using signature adaptors. As of this writing, no replies to the idea have been posted to the mailing list.
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 #26471 reduces the default mempool capacity to 5MB (from 300MB) when a user turns on
-blocksonlymode. Since unused mempool memory is shared with dbcache, this change also reduces the default dbcache size in
-blocksonlymode. Users may still configure a larger mempool capacity using the
● Bitcoin Core #23395 adds a
-shutdownnotifyconfiguration option to
bitcoindwhich executes a custom user command when
bitcoindshuts down normally (the command will not be executed during a crash).
● Eclair #2573 begins accepting keysend payments that don’t contain a payment secret even when Eclair advertises that the payment secret is mandatory. According to the pull request description, LND and Core Lightning both send keysend payments without payment secrets. Payment secrets were designed to support multipath payments, so Eclair is leaving it up to those other node implementations to ensure they only send single-path keysend payments.
● Eclair #2574, related to the above pull request, stops including payment secrets in the keysend payments it sends. According to the pull request description, LND rejects keysend payments that contain a payment secret, even though such rejections are not described in the BLIP3 specification of keysend.
● Eclair #2540 makes several changes to how Eclair stores data about funding and commitment transactions in preparation for later adding support for splicing. See #2584 for the current draft pull request that would add experimental splicing support.
● LND #7231 adds RPCs and options to
lnclifor signing and verifying messages. For P2PKH, the format is compatible with the
signmessageRPC first added to Bitcoin Core in 2011. For P2WPKH and P2SH-P2WPKH (also called Nested P2PKH, or NP2PKH), the same format is used. This format includes the expectation that the signature will be in ECDSA format and verification requires deriving the public key from the signature. For P2TR addresses, which would normally be used with schnorr signatures, it’s not possible to derive the public key from the signature if Bitcoin’s schnorr signature algorithm is used. Instead, ECDSA signatures are generated and verified for P2TR addresses.
Note: Optech generally recommends against using ECDSA signature functions with keys intended for use with schnorr signatures, but LND developers have taken extra precautionary steps to avoid problems.
● LDK #1878 adds the ability to set a per-payment (rather than global)
min_final_cltv_expiryvalue. This value determines the maximum number of blocks the receiver has to claim a payment before it expires. The standard default value is 18 blocks but receivers can request more time by setting a parameter in a BOLT11 invoice.
In order for LDK to support this feature in combination with its unique implementation of stateless invoices, LDK encodes the value into the payment secret that the spender is obliged to send. It provides 12 bits for the expiry value, which allows expiries of up to 4,096 blocks (about 4 weeks).
● LDK #1860 adds support for channels using anchor outputs.