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Issue #1347: Bitcoin transaction relay over Nostr gaining some attention

Issue #1347: Bitcoin transaction relay over Nostr gaining some attention

May 23, 2023
Marty's Ƀent

Issue #1347: Bitcoin transaction relay over Nostr gaining some attention

A few weeks ago we made you freaks aware that bitcoin developer Ben Carman released a prototype for relaying bitcoin transactions over Nostr that would allow individuals to broadcast transactions directly over Nostr instead of bitcoin's P2P layer. Well, it looks like Joost Jager has taken Ben's idea and added to it by incorporating transaction package relays to the design, which has been a much desired feature at the P2P layer of bitcoin for some time now. Being able to relay transaction packages in an easy way would massively benefit people opening and closing channels on the lightning network and those who are looking to get non-standard transactions included in the mempools of mining pools.

It will be interesting to see how this is received by the bitcoin developer community. Joost took to the bitcoin-dev mailing list earlier today to start a conversation about the topic and its merits. I'm very interested to hear what Gloria Zhoa thinks about this proposed solution to package relays considering package relays have been a big part of her focus and work at bitcoin's P2P layer. To be honest, this subject is a bit above my paygrade, but on the surface it seems like a very creative solution to the problem of not being able to send packaged relays with Bitcoin Core very easily at the moment. If anything, it could serve as a great testing ground on bitcoin's mainnet to see how transaction packages work at scale in the wild without having to touch Bitcoin Core or other implementations.

On top of this, it highlights unique ways in which Nostr can be leveraged to enhance bitcoin. Nostr is typically thought of as a protocol to develop distributed Twitter and Substack clones on top of, but it is so much more. Since it is a distributed communications protocol any applications having to do with communications can be built on top of it or integrated with it. Bitcoin transaction relay is about communicating with peers about what transactions are looking to get confirmed at any given point in time. One thing to consider with transaction relays over Nostr is that wallets would be communicating directly with the mempools of mining pools while circumventing the P2P network, which raises questions about whether or not that introduces some weird incentives for miners and/or prevents individual users from making good decisions when they transact (particularly what fee to attach) because the information about transactions looking to get confirmed at any given point in time is bifurcated between the P2P network and Nostr.

All fascinating things to think about. No matter what comes of this, I think it is encouraging to see bitcoin beginning to experiment with alternative communications protocols like Nostr to create some redundancies so that bitcoin is as robust as possible. We'll keep you freaks up to date as the conversation around this develops moving forward.

Final thought...

Shoutout to Ben for answering my questions on this topic in the Commons. He'll probably correct me about something on Twitter.

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