Bitcoin Cash Wallet Neutrino Introduces Additional Privacy Features

Bitcoin Cash developers have released a new mobile wallet called Neutrino, which has been designed to provide better privacy than other available wallets. Although Neutrino has been available as a command-line tool for some time, Android users can now try out the wallet. As of Sunday, the wallet is available on Google Play.

Neutrino In a Nutshell

Neutrino is a light client. This is true of most mobile wallets, as the alternative—a full node wallet—is very system-intensive. However, light wallets also carry privacy trade-offs, as they rely heavily on the activity of other network participants. Neutrino, though, offers a light wallet that keeps certain information private from the Bitcoin Cash network.

This sort of privacy is different from the confidentiality that coins like Monero and Zcash provide. Whereas those coins conceal transaction amounts and destinations, Neutrino obscures details pertaining to network connections. As Bitcoin Cash developers have noted, there are no other wallets that do the same:

“Network privacy refers to your privacy vis-a-vis the peers or server that your wallet connects to. Prior to Neutrino there was not a single lightweight wallet … that does not disclose all the addresses in your wallet and your entire transaction history to a third party.”

Most users should not be overly concerned by this, but third parties could conceivably use revealed information to determine an individual’s identity. The way in which Neutrino prevents this from happening is fairly complicated, but the wallet ultimately ensures that you don’t disclose potentially compromising information with each transaction that you make.

Development So Far

Neutrino’s fundamental feature, Simplified Payment Verification, or SPV, has existed for some time. As Jimmy Song explains, SPV was first described in Bitcoin’s white paper, then was introduced in 2013 as BIP37. However, the feature became outmoded due to various issues. In 2017, Neutrino was created to improve on some of those problems.

Neutrino also makes use of client-side filtering, which was originally introduced in BIP 157 and 158. These proposals were intended for the Lightning Network, and Neutrino is actually being primarily developed by Lightning Labs. However, Bitcoin Cash developers ported Neutrino last November, and they are working separately on their own version.

Since Neutrino can be easily adapted, it might show up elsewhere in the future. Whether it will ultimately gain traction is hard to say. Bitcoin Cash’s release of Neutrino is somewhat premature, as the wallet is still in beta. For now, more thoroughly tested Bitcoin Cash wallets should be used for important transactions.

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