Free Multi-Signature API Could Help Boost Bitcoin App Security
BlockCypher has released an API that allows developers to implement 'multisig' authentication in an hour, it says.
It's just become much easier for developers and startups to boost the security of their bitcoin products and services.
A new multi-signature API has been released by BlockCypher, a Boost VC-backed startup, allowing anybody to easily add the security-enhancing feature to their own applications.
Multi-signature transactions involve multiple parties who are required to provide consensus in order to authenticate a transaction – an escrow-like situation operating on the block chain.
's founder and CEO Catheryne Nicholson told CoinDesk that the API is a way to provide a secure infrastructure for startups in the bitcoin ecosystem, freeing them to focus on user experience:
Nicholson suggested that if bitcoin startups didn't have to devote as much time and resources to building a secure infrastructure, companies could instead focus on improving user experience, whether they're building a wallet, exchange or any other type of application using the block chain.
With her background in enterprise software platforms, it was clear to Nicholson that part of the reason we haven't seen more user-friendly applications built on the bitcoin protocol is because developers are spending most of their time focusing on security.
Nicholson isn't alone in thinking that multisig functionality could help free up developers to build better user interfaces.
While delivering the 'Annual State of Bitcoin' address at the Bitcoin 2014 conference in Amsterdam back in May, the Bitcoin Foundation's chief scientist Gavin Andresen predicted the emergence of "better looking" products:
Until now, implementing multisig functionality has proven to be a timesuck for developers. Nicholson attributes this to the difficulty of executing the transactions with the pay-to-script-hash (P2SH) function.
The multisig approach to transactions on the block chain has been lauded by many in the community as a way to enhance consumer protection and prevent fraudulent spending.
This type of functionality is essential in bringing bitcoin to mass adoption, Nicholson argued:
Nicholson reaffirmed that the multisig API is written so that neither her nor BlockCypher ever hold the private keys of its users, to ensure funds cannot be stolen.
Free for now
Indeed, Purse.io users may see multisig functionality added to the service sooner rather than later, with Nicholson explaining that she's already heard from the company about its plans to use the new API.
Developers hoping to implement multisig into their products or services can expect the traditionally arduous process to take just an hour using the multisig API, which Nicholson said also works for the litecoin protocol.
The multisig API is available free of charge for anyone to use, as Nicholson stressed that immediate profit isn't her primary focus:
To find out more about multisig authentication, see CoinDesk's primer.
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