Bismuth support for multiple addresses schemes


Bismuth has been largely behind in regards to integration with devices with limited computing resources, such as smartphones and hardware wallets. Creating an address can be a hassle, and paper wallets practically don’t exist. All of these inconveniences can get narrowed down due to largely one feature, which is Bismuth’s cryptographic primitive, RSA.

Bismuth & RSA

The Bismuth platform currently uses RSA – an asymmetric cryptographic algorithm used as base for digital signature and encryption. RSA has been the “de facto” standard for a long time, and is presumed safe until large-scale quantum computing becomes a reality. It is a well known algorithm, and Bismuth is one of the only cryptocurrencies that employs it. To play on the safe side, Bismuth utilizes it in its 4096 bit key length variant. This exceeds the recommended standard length of 3000 bits for use until 2030. However, one of the flaws of RSA is that it is heavy-weight and resource intensive, making it unfeasible in practice to run smoothly on every mobile devices and similar hardware devices with limited computing capacity.

Support of addresses with other schemes

In order to expand Bismuth’s capabilities and footprint in the industry, the Bismuth Foundation had planned to support several alternative cryptographic primitives. This was on the roadmap since a while and is now a reality.
Bismuth nodes do now also support a new ECDSA cryptographic primitive as well as new addresses scheme, while retaining RSA for coinbase operations and keeping full compatibility between the two schemes.

ECDSA is used by most existing crypto-platforms, and has allowed for more efficient and swift operations, such as rapid signing times and smaller signatures. While integrating with Bismuth, the core developpers took great care to follow as much as possible the current BIP standard as to guarantee an optimum compatibility, which enables BIS to integrate seamlessly with the existing architecture built around the Bitcoin ecosystem.
It will introduce a new address format beginning with the “Bis1” prefix, ushering in a new era of consistent and far nicer-looking Bismuth addresses. With ECDSA, Bismuth becomes paper wallet compatible, as well as seed-word compatible. Integration with existing hardware wallet solutions such as “Trezor” and “Ledger” become immensely simplified, and last but not least, efficient mobile wallet applications for Bismuth become a reality.

It’s up to the user

The Bismuth Foundation wants to give users the choice of which scheme to use, whether it be the older RSA or newer ECDSA. Both algorithms have their respective strengths and weaknesses, and it should be up to the preference of the users and application developers which one they prefer to use. Both will co-exist within the Bismuth protocol, and be compatible but this additional facet of modularity should appeal to everyone.
Bismuth is the only platform to offer this level of choice, and offers a thick blanket of security- if at one point in the future a backdoor was found for ECDSA, Bismuth would be the most unaffected as it uses RSA for all coinbase operations, and users could immediately fallback to it for all activity, without complicated chain swap process. The same cannot be said for most other existing crypto-platforms, in which ECDSA is used for all operations.

Future proof

The introduction of multi-scheme addresses is a pinnacle point in advancing Bismuth in all aspects, whether it be expanding its footprint and presence in hardware devices, or boosting its capabilities in regards to address generation and formats. It is a step forward in scheme modernization, and a leap ahead in establishing a new standard of multi-scheme addresses. At some point, options can even be extended beyond RSA and ECDSA.
The code handling the signatures and addresses is completely modular and extendable. Although undocumented, ed25519 cryptographic primitive also is supported by current nodes for instance.
More schemes could be added later on, to address the possible threats quantum computing could pose to any of the existing ones.
Bismuth is future-proof.