A long-debated change originally intended to improve bitcoin has now locked in on the lesser-known cryptocurrency network litecoin.
Segregated Witness (SegWit) has been the subject of bitcoin's infamous scaling debate for a couple of years now, but it's now getting an opportunity to shine on litecoin, or so its supporters argue, leading some to believe that it will now help reveal whether concerns about the change are valid for bitcoin.
The change first locked-in two weeks ago, leading to two more weeks of waiting to ensure demand for the upgrade remained consistent. Earlier today, the change activated at block 1201536.
What does that mean? Litecoin users can now begin using the new style of transaction, and there has been at least one such transaction so far.
However, most advocates are excited about the new technologies that can now be built on top of a network with SegWit. For example, the Lightning Network, which could boost litecoin transactions by as much as a million times, can now hypothetically be used to move real money.
Litecoin developer Loshan T told CoinDesk:
"I think today will be a great day for pushing more awesome tech into Litecoin. With SegWit activated on litecoin's mainnet, I cannot wait until we deploy confidential transactions, Lightning Networks, MAST and Schnorr signatures."
Still, these projects are rather early stage. Developers from the startup Lightning Labs, at least, seem to think that it’s too early to talk about sending money over the still-experimental network and plan to continue improving their code first.
It's unclear what exactly this activation means and what role litecoin will play in the future.
Loshan mentioned that some onlookers are skeptical that litecoin really needs the Lightning Network, since litecoin transaction blocks are not yet full, but pointed to trustless cross-chain transactions between bitcoin and litecoin as a potential Lightning use case that the developer believes could benefit both cryptocurrencies.
One piece is that wallets will need to upgrade to support the type of transactions. Multi-signature wallet mSIGNA, for example, has done so.
Further, there were some worries about the activation – some logistical and some political. Earlier high-level analysis showed that developers are unsure whether all miners and exchanges are completely prepared for the change.
Time will tell if these concerns mean anything. Less than an hour after the change, the cryptocurrency appears to be operating normally.
Litecoin image via SegWit tracker website