Opcode proposals for Bitcoin Cash introduce tokening functionalities

February 23, 2018

Bitcoin ABC’s Medium Term Development Plan cited an upgrade due last February 15. One of the agendas in the plan proposed to “re-activate some deactivated Opcodes” and add “protocol extension points to facilitate future Opcode upgrades.”

These proposed protocol extensions and inherited Opcodes from the legacy Bitcoin (BTC) network use an internal, stack-based scripting language called Script. The language is similar in nature to an earlier language called Forth, which is an imperative language and development environment used for compiling procedural code.

Although Script inherits most of Forth’s features, the former is intentionally Turing-incomplete and functions with no loops. It is used to record transactions logs and stack up transaction data. Script’s parameters store the gathered data into lists with pre-programmed instructions describing how much (and to how many different addresses) a user wants to spend units of a cryptocurrency currently being transferred.

With the use of Script, programmers working on the Bitcoin Cash chain may change the parameters for public keys and signatures required to release funds under the OP_GROUP opcode. The introduction of OP_GROUP opens the Bitcoin Cash chain to a new set of features and functionalities that would rival smart contract systems without needing a hard fork or second layer of activation.

OP_GROUP’s programming stack mints and burns tokens, and only requires a single set of static private keys to issue tokens. Its locks will remain unchangeable for security purposes, and the keys can be easily shared from user to user. This ‘administrative token’ can then be used to issue other tokens, and can be moved from one BCH address to another. This means that the keys may be set for mass Bitcoin Cash giveaways and other use cases which require mass distribution in cryptocurrency.

OP_GROUP works by using existing data on top of a stack as an identifier for a group. It then adds or subtracts the value of the input or output call (which begins at zero) to an integer associated with the issuing group. The integer will reflect the “group balance” which users will share and pool in a decentralized manner.

This process was first proposed by Andrew Stone, lead maintainer at Bitcoin Unlimited, in October 16, 2017, and works with previous implementations for Bitcoin Cash such as “Colored Coins” which makes use of satoshi units as “representative money,” with extended use cases for satoshis to represent ownership of anything from stocks, bonds, physical goods, or even other cryptocurrencies and ICOs.

Emil Oldenburg, chief technology officer at Bitcoin.com, said in a tweet that he thinks “OP_GROUP is the best BCH token proposal because of SPV support and its simplicity. Keep is short and simple. It doesn’t need to be included in a hard fork. Make it a soft fork and activate it on testnet as soon as possible.”

When fully implemented, the OP_GROUP features will merge with the growing BCH ecosystem and provide a wider range of usability for the Bitcoin Cash community, pushing Satoshi’s vision forward to a future of permissionless innovation and decentralized development.

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