Bitcoin miners can now show their support for a long proposed technical update that would boost the network’s transaction capacity.
Following block 439,488 on the bitcoin blockchain (which occurred at roughly 8:30 UTC today), miners can now upgrade their software by changing a header value in the blocks that they process.
Called Segregated Witness (SegWit), the change is best known as a way to scale transactions on the bitcoin blockchain by carving out more space in each block, though it also solves a long-known major bug and expands the software in a few other notable ways.
As coded in the latest bitcoin software release (0.13.1), 95% of miners need to signal support for the change in a series of 2016 blocks, or a period of roughly two weeks. If that happens, there will be another two week period before SegWit is officially activated.
If activated, the change would ripple out to the rest of the ecosystem of wallets and software projects, and users on the network could begin to take advantage of the update.
But not everyone supports the change (one observer even called the signaling period the beginnings of a “dirty war“).