Bitcoin-focused company Lightning Labs has launched the Taproot Assets mainnet alpha daemon.
Simply put, Taproot Assets uses Bitcoin’s technology to handle, create, and delve into stablecoins and other assets. Think of it as a modern financial tool, backed by Bitcoin’s known security and decentralized features. The current version, Taproot Assets v0.3, enables developers to transform Bitcoin into a network that can support various assets, all while maintaining its foundational principles.
The main aim here is to evolve Bitcoin. It’s not just about it being a cryptocurrency anymore. It’s about making it a global network for digital money transactions. By merging Taproot Assets with Lightning transactions, the way we understand financial exchanges might undergo a significant shift, making them more in tune with Bitcoin’s built-in liquidity.
“This release represents a new era for bitcoin, and only further cements its significance in the global financial system,” Lightning Labs CEO Elizabeth Stark told Bitcoin Magazine. “With its unparalleled security and decentralization, bitcoin will be the bedrock of financial assets. Today we are one step closer to bitcoinizing the dollar and the world. And at the end of the day, it all comes back to bitcoin.”
From its white paper release last year to now, the journey has been a combined effort. Inputs from the Bitcoin developer world, lessons from the testnet phase, and the support from early users have all played a part in shaping Taproot Assets. During its test phase, close to 2,000 assets were created, with nodes connecting to the ‘Universe server’ (a key source for Taproot Asset data for wallets) more than 420,000 times.
For those interested, Taproot Assets daemon is available in the recent versions of Polar and litd v0.12, packed with tools from basic node operations to support for multiple assets. It’s important to note, however, that even with its potential, it’s in its early stages. Continued community feedback and testing for any possible risks is vital.
Looking back, Bitcoin’s significant step into mainstream finance came when El Salvador recognized it as official currency in 2021. After that, the Lightning Network saw remarkable growth, particularly in developing regions. The rising demand for stablecoins globally played a crucial role. Considering their digital nature, stablecoins can often be more appealing than local currencies in areas with high inflation. For the roughly 2 billion people facing steep inflation in their local currencies, the consistent value of stablecoins, usually tied to the dollar, is attractive.
There’s also a growing interest in incorporating real assets like gold, company bonds, and US government bonds into the Bitcoin sphere. Many believe that with Bitcoin’s vast reach, decentralized system, and strong security, these assets can be more accessible to the general public.
The Taproot Assets v0.3 update invites developers to explore mainnet assets further. With user-friendly APIs for creating and redeeming assets and support for tranched issuance, the process is streamlined. There are also features to ensure physical assets linked to these digital ones can be safely retrieved.
For transactions on the Taproot Assets chain, a new asynchronous receive function means assets can be sent or received anytime, even if both parties aren’t online at the same time. This update also introduces ‘Multiverse Mode’, giving developers a thorough tool for block exploration for users.
This version also sees improvements in security, scalability, and user experience. Additions like Schnorr signatures, PSBTs, and witness fields make it even more robust.
This is just a starting point. The team behind Taproot Assets aims to make Lightning a network that supports multiple assets. The prospect of transferring any currency over the Lightning Network, using Bitcoin’s extensive liquidity, is now within reach.
UPDATED (Oct 18, 2023 – 3:50 pm EDT): Adds statement by Lightning Labs CEO.