CoinSpark has released a new version of its protocol that allows users to send private messages tied to bitcoin transactions, effectively allowing its technology to be used for more commercial, notarized transactions.
The second major update from the asset transfer protocol launched in September, CoinSpark 2.0 will enable a broad range of applications based on the ability for two parties in a bitcoin transaction or asset transfer to record its purpose.
Gideon Greenspan, CEO and founder of Coin Sciences, the company behind the platform, described the upgrade as a way to provide bitcoin with the capabilities of more traditional payment systems such as PayPal and SWIFT when it comes to facilitating commerce.
To begin using the service, users can download the CoinSpark’s SparkBit wallet, which will support the new interface beginning today, while those running the bitcoin core client can use CoinSpark's open-source code to add the functionality.
Enterprise users who may want to integrate CoinSpark 2.0 into their products also have the ability to take advantage of the project's programming libraries, available in six languages.
Greenspan explained that, rather than encoding a direct message into the bitcoin transaction’s metadata, CoinSpark 2.0 instead places a hash of that message and the address of the server from which it needs to be retrieved in this field.
This, in turn, means that only the hash of that message, not the message itself, is visible to the public.
The feature will, however, enable public broadcasting, allowing those who want messages to appear in bitcoin’s public ledger to do so, though the feature will be optional.
“The message itself is not visible on the blockchain, the only people who can see it are the sender, the server that delivers that message and the recipient who has to sign a request to that server, so it’s not visible to the rest of the world,” Greenspan said.
The flexibility, Greenspan said, would also allow users to provide non-commercial messaging, should it be used for more general purposes.
“This is a contextual note,” he continued. “So, if you gave me money for coffee last week and I’m paying you back, it’s a way for user A to send a message to user B in connection with a transaction.”
Though more specific in its applications, Greenspan indicated he sees CoinSpark 2.0 as “a step in the direction” of the larger movement to use the bitcoin blockchain as a way to facilitate messaging.
For example, he suggested an email application could be built that would enable people to message each other on the blockchain in a notarized fashion, all with “infinitesimal” amounts of bitcoin.
“The purpose of the use wouldn’t actually be for enhancing bitcoin transactions, but just notarizing communications. When you read about the blockchain, one of the things that keeps coming up is that it could be used to make email more secure, and this is essentially just a practical way of doing that,” he added.
However, he cautioned that transactions on its network are tied to bitcoin, and therefore do incur a cost, meaning that it would be useful for the kind of general audience messaging services being built on bitcoin such as GetGems.
Still, Greenspan indicated that CoinSpark 2.0 is in some ways a necessary move, one that will help his platform compete for relevance against the other asset transfer protocols striving to unlock similar use cases.
Overall, Greenspan described asset transfer as an application that has yet to really take hold in the market. “I don’t see a lot of things being issued over these protocols that are breaking out in terms of being really useful for mainstream use,” he said.
Further, he cautioned that this transition is likely to “take a long time”, and that this is why CoinSpark is taking a more varied approach to its products. But, he noted that user growth is happening as evidenced by the growing number of bitcoin transactions that include metadata.
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