The Bitcoin SV Node team is planning to solve the mAPI “removed transactions” problem

According to the Bitcoin SV Node development team, there needs to be a better way for the Bitcoin network to prioritize the transactions it receives. A preview of the fixes the team wants to make in 2023 lists “deprecated operations” for those using the mAPI protocol as a key focus.

The mAPI (originally known as the Merchant API) is designed as an additional service that can be offered to merchants accepting Bitcoin transactions. The idea was to connect to an API to receive live policy and fee quotes for merchants to submit transactions, as well as submit transactions themselves and query their status. The idea was to allow merchants to receive “fee quotes” from transaction processors/miners to set the most appropriate fee at any given time to process transactions quickly and perhaps create a new industry of transaction brokers. mAPI can also retrieve Merkle Proofs to record when a transaction occurred and generate a double spend alert.

However, as the SV Node team admits, mAPI has not lived up to expectations. One of the main complaints was that users had broadcast transactions that were shown as “accepted” but were never confirmed on the network. The node program will remove transactions from the mempool without notifying the originator.

Rather than being a problem with the mAPI itself, they said, these “removed transactions” are a symptom of code past BTC Core, which is irrelevant in “big block” Bitcoin. This code contains logic that tries to prioritize transactions on an artificially constrained network like BTC, but on unconstrained networks like BSV, it introduces “an obstacle to the user experience” and causes “unnecessary bottlenecks” that include transaction cancellation.

This is code that was never part of the original Bitcoin protocol released by Satoshi Nakamoto, but was added in later years by BTC Core developers to deal with BTC’s limited capacity of around 4-7 transactions per second across the entire network. While BSV is closer to Satoshi’s original protocol (which has no block size limit), it still contains some additional legacy code that has been identified and removed.

The SV Node team is currently working with miners to fix those parts of the offending code for the upcoming 1.0.14 update next year. Reportedly, there will be an update to mAPI itself soon, and other development teams are working on alternative services that don’t directly handle transactions.

mAPI, transaction indexing and Bitcoin scaling

The usefulness of mAPI (both its current implementation and the concept itself) has been a major topic of discussion for developers and merchant users. Bitcoin inventor Dr. Craig S. Wright has strongly criticized the protocol, calling it “a completely fundamental misunderstanding of what the hell bitcoin is.” He said that there should never be any process sent to a single node (aka miner) and no user should ever select and interact with a particular node.

“No node is special. You don’t pick a particular node and engage with it; agree with bitcoin as a whole. Nodes are agents of a process that perform a specific function and do not interact individually. Hubs do not deal with merchants individually,” he added.

If such specialized work is ever needed, it would have to happen on the overlapping network, he said, but it would be an indexing service, not part of the bitcoin network. The mAPI should just be a UTXO lookup pointing to the Merkle path in the underlying value store, he said.

This type of service is in demand from merchants who want to process a large number of transactions quickly. This is critical for a network like BSV, which promises a micropayment economy based on millions/billions of transactions per day from both humans and machines.

One such indexing service, GorillaPool’s JungleBus, aims to be available as a “highly efficient crawler that indexes Bitcoin” and an API that “allows anyone to easily access Bitcoin and build powerful overlay networks for business use.” A public beta is currently available, aiming to release the final product by the end of 2022.

Metastreme’s MetaProof also offers transaction verification services based on SPV proofs and can now handle over 1,000 requests per second (with the ability to handle over half a million requests per second currently in testing).

While unlimited scalability has been a part of Bitcoin since Satoshi Nakamoto first released it in 2009, the industry is still beginning to understand how it works in practice. Some teething problems are expected, but whether it’s a matter of removing the old “small blocker” code from Bitcoin or developing better indexing services to confirm transactions quickly, they will be ironed out before long.

See: BSV Global Blockchain Convention panel, Blockchain mining and energy innovation

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