On February 18, blockchain technology firm Blockstream announced that they have released a test code that potentially could be part of a Bitcoin blockchain upgrade. The code is called MuSig and it implements a Schnorr-based multi-signature scheme. A little more than a year ago, a small group of Bitcoin developers issued a paper detailing how a Schnorr-based multi-signature scheme could help resolve Bitcoin scaling issues. They said that such a scheme could not only decrease transaction sizes but also could improve Bitcoin's privacy and performance. The scheme lets sets of signers create a unified message using small joint signatures. Blockstream has now turned this idea into reality. They have also added the code to a fork of secp256k1, which is a cryptography library that Bitcoin Core uses. In their announcement, Blockstream indicated their implementation is a "misuse-resistant API." They further indicated that their code created improvements in terms of verification efficiency and that it provides provable security in what is known as the public key model. They also believe that the code improves privacy by hiding signers. Blockstream further mentioned that they have discovered other implementations of the scheme, but that they are all insecure. They said that proper MuSig signatures require a secret and uniformly random "nonce," and without them people could lose keys and criminals could steal funds. The company posted the code on their public GitHub account, and they are currently asking the Bitcoin community to test it and give them feedback. The code could affect an event called "halving." In May of 2020, most expect halving to next happen. This occurs about every 4 years, and it reduces by half how much Bitcoin is produced as well as how much compensation Bitcoin miners earn. LedgerX, which is a trading and clearing platform that the U.S. government regulates, is allowing investors to speculate on when the next halving will next happen. They have issued a derivative contract called a LedgerX Halving Contract. This so-called binary option pays investors a fixed fee if the next halving block (at block number 630,000) occurs before a specified date and time.
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