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Discussing Bitcoin's Path Forward with Ben Carman

Feb 20, 2024

Discussing Bitcoin's Path Forward with Ben Carman

Discussing Bitcoin's Path Forward with Ben Carman

Key Takeaways

The Stephan Livera podcast episode featuring Ben Carman from Mutiny Wallet delves into a rich discussion on Bitcoin's protocol development, its challenges, and the future of Bitcoin wallets. The conversation highlights the ongoing struggle between scaling Bitcoin and maintaining its decentralized ethos.

One of the core challenges identified is scaling Bitcoin effectively. Despite the success of the Lightning Network, it's clear that Lightning alone isn't the silver bullet for scaling; it is part of an incremental solution. The need for additional measures like soft forks to facilitate scaling has sparked a divide within the community, leading to a social consensus problem that overshadows technical issues.

Another significant point is the social dynamics within the Bitcoin community, which can be categorized into four groups: ossificationists, conservatives, progressives, and those with a more permissive attitude towards upgrades that may facilitate altcoins. This taxonomy reflects the varied philosophies regarding Bitcoin's development path.

The discussion also touched upon the importance of covenants and soft forks in improving Bitcoin's scalability and user experience. Ben Carman leans towards the view that covenants, particularly those enhancing the Lightning Network, offer promising avenues for scaling Bitcoin ownership and transactions.

Layer two solutions (L2s) are also debated, with the consensus being that true L2s should enable unilateral exits without relying on trusted intermediaries. However, the definition of what constitutes an L2 is expanding as the ecosystem evolves.

Mutiny Wallet, the project Ben Carman is working on, represents an attempt to create a new hybrid era for Bitcoin wallets. It aims to combine the best aspects of self-custodial wallets with features from federated models like Fedimint, providing a seamless experience for both novice and advanced users.

Best Quotes

  1. "A lot of our challenges are almost more social than technical. We need to come to a social consensus of what's the next move."
  2. "If Bitcoin is worth like a trillion dollars tomorrow, soft forks probably aren't happening anymore. It's just like being able to activate things just comes that much harder the bigger the system gets."
  3. "We're trying to make self-custody easier and cheaper and more scalable for end users. If we stop soft-forking today, frankly, most users won't be able to use self-custodial Bitcoin."
  4. "Lightning is kind of beautiful where it's a truly peer-to-peer network... It's not like service providers to function the network, which is a really different model than a lot of the other L2s."
  5. "We're just fine. And the outlook is good. Lightning is not going to die tomorrow kind of thing that a lot of people are saying, and inscriptions aren't going to kill Bitcoin."


The podcast episode with Ben Carman provides a comprehensive look into the current state and future of Bitcoin, particularly focusing on the technical and social challenges the ecosystem faces. The need for soft forks and covenants, alongside the development of layer two solutions like the Lightning Network, are critical for enabling greater scalability and user adoption.

The nuanced conversation also sheds light on the diverse opinions within the Bitcoin community regarding protocol upgrades and the underlying philosophies that drive these viewpoints. The episode concludes with optimism, despite the challenges ahead, highlighting the resilience of the Bitcoin network and the continuous efforts to improve it.

Mutiny Wallet emerges as an innovative solution striving to offer a bridge between the ease of use provided by custodial services and the security and autonomy of self-custody. As the ecosystem evolves, it will be interesting to see how these developments shape the future of Bitcoin and its potential to onboard billions of users while maintaining its core tenets.


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