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Upcoming paper: A journey into Bitcoin metadata

posted Jan 8, 2019, 7:17 AM by Massimo Bartoletti   [ updated Jan 11, 2019, 10:08 AM ]
Upcoming paper (to appear on Journal of Grid Computing)

Massimo Bartoletti, Bryn Bellomy, Livio Pompianu

Abstract.  Besides recording transfers of currency, the Bitcoin blockchain is being used to save metadata — i.e. arbitrary pieces of data which do not affect transfers of bitcoins. This can be done by using different techniques, and for different purposes. For instance, a growing number of protocols embed metadata in the blockchain to certify and transfer the ownership of a variety of assets beyond cryptocurrency. A point of debate in the Bitcoin community is hether metadata negatively impact on the effectiveness of Bitcoin with respect to its primary function. This paper is a systematic analysis of the usage of Bitcoin metadata over the years. We discuss all the known techniques to embed metadata in the Bitcoin blockchain; we then extract metadata, and analyse them from different angles.