[Bitcoin-development] [ANN] Micropayment Channel Implementation

bitcoin-list at bluematt.me bitcoin-list at bluematt.me
Thu Jun 27 12:29:30 UTC 2013

As of today, a full implementation of micropayment channels has been merged
onto bitcoinj's master branch (to be released in the next version). It is
designed to make it easy for users to create payment channel servers and
clients based on the design at
by creating a simple TCP socket and exchanging protobufs to initialize and
make payments.

It supports various levels of abstractions, allowing users to drive the
state machines which do basic channel init/verification themselves, allow
bitcoinj to handle all the complexity of channel management/expiry/etc and
simply exchange protobufs over whatever whatever connection they wish to
make with the server, or let bitcoinj handle opening a TCP socket and do
all the work. See
https://code.google.com/p/bitcoinj/wiki/WorkingWithMicropayments for
details on how to use the implementation in bitcoinj.

A more full protocol description will be written up in the form of a BIP as
the code matures a bit more (with the hope that other implementations can
appear), but, generally:

1. Client and server exchange version handshake, and client may
optionally request that an existing channel be reopened (the channels last
for 24 hours by default, so if the connection gets killed, reopening an
existing channel is useful).
2. The protocol described on the wiki is followed, exchanging
(canonical!) signatures and transactions until a multisignature contract is
established and broadcast which locks money into the channel, and a refund
transaction is created and signed which allows the client to spend the
entire multisignature transaction to wherever they want
(SIGHASH_NONE|SIGHASH_ANYONECANPAY) after some lock time (by default, 24
hours). Both client and server store a copy of the channel in their wallet
so that if the app itself crashes the refund transaction can still be
broadcast/the channel can still be resumed. At this point either the whole wallet should be backed up or the total value in payment channels at any
given time should be kept reasonably low (because payment channels are
designed to combine micropayments into confirmable payments, this shouldn't be an issue)
3. The client increments payments by sending the server new signatures
spending the multisig contract partially back to themselves and allowing
the server to do what they want with the rest
4. When the client sends a CLOSE message or the channel approaches the
refund transaction unlock time, the server adds any necessary fees to the
latest payment transaction and broadcasts it, closing the channel, disconnecting the client if the connection is still open and removing the stored channel state from its wallet.

See https://code.google.com/p/bitcoinj/source/browse/core/src/paymentchannel.proto for the protobuf/protocol description.

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