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Silent Payments Improve Privacy Without Adding Data To Bitcoin

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Listen To The Episode Here:

In this episode of “Bitcoin, Explained,” hosts Aaron van Wirdum and Sjors Provoost welcome Ruben Somsen back on the show to talk about his recent proposal for “silent payments.”

Silent payments resemble earlier ideas like “stealth addresses” and “reusable payment codes,” in that they allow users to publish a static address. While this is not the actual bitcoin address where they will be paid, senders of a transaction can use this static address to generate new bitcoin addresses for the recipient, for which the recipient — and only the recipient — can, in turn, generate the corresponding private keys.

Like stealth addresses and reusable payment codes, the benefit of silent payments is that addresses can be posted publicly without harming users’ privacy; snoops cannot link the publicly posted address to the actual bitcoin addresses where the recipient is paid. Meanwhile, unlike stealth addresses and reusable payment codes, silent payments do not require any additional blockchain data — though this does come at a computational cost for the recipient.

The podcast episode details this in roughly two parts. In the first half of the episode, Somsen, van Wirdum and Provoost break down how silent payments work, and in the second half of the episode, they discuss how silent payments compare to stealth addresses and reusable payment codes, as well as some potential implementation issues.

Provoost made a successful silent payment on the Signet Bitcoin testnet, but silent payments are not ready for mainnet use at this time.

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