Quick Overview: Bitcoin Ecosystem Protocols

6 min readJan 8, 2024

Bitcoin Blockchain, Lightning Network, Nostr, Nostr Assets Protocol, and Taproot Assets Protocol may seem like a complex string of terms, confusing their differences. Fret not, as the purpose of this article is to help you swiftly and comprehensively understand these concepts.

1. Bitcoin Blockchain

What is the Bitcoin Blockchain?

  • Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency based on blockchain technology. Originating in 2008, Bitcoin functions as a peer-to-peer electronic cash system utilizing P2P networks, encryption, timestamp, and blockchain technologies. The blockchain is a distributed, public ledger containing every Bitcoin transaction’s history.

We can conceptualize the Bitcoin blockchain as a public ledger, accessible for scrutiny by all. Each entry in this ledger represents a block, and these blocks are sequentially linked over time, creating an immutable historical record. Unlike conventional ledgers, this accounting system is not under the control of any single entity; rather, it is upheld and maintained by the entire participant network.

Key Features of Bitcoin Blockchain:

  • Decentralization: No single entity can disrupt the network; consensus of the majority is required for transaction approval.
  • Privacy: User account addresses are anonymous, while transaction records are publicly accessible.
  • Inflation Prevention: Bitcoin is mined, with a limited total supply halving every four years.

Drawbacks of Bitcoin Transaction Mechanism:

  • Slow transaction speed and low processing capacity.
  • High transaction fees, especially during network congestion.

2. Lightning Network

What is the Lightning Network?

  • Lightning Network is a Layer2 solution for Bitcoin designed to enhance transaction efficiency and reduce costs.


  • Establishes off-chain payment channels to store transaction records.
  • Fund transfers occur within channels, with the final result confirmed on-chain.

To better understand what the Lightning Network is, we can liken it to a prepaid card. On this card, you and other users have established a channel, allowing for quick and low-cost transactions without the need to record every transaction on the public ledger each time. It’s akin to creating a small ledger between you and a friend, only updating the main ledger with the total at the end of the settlement period.

Operation of the Lightning Network:

  • Establishing off-chain payment channels: Participants sign transactions with private keys, and fund transfers occur within the established channel.
  • Lightning Network transactions within the channel are off-chain, requiring only smart contract execution. This eliminates the need for network-wide confirmation, significantly boosting processing efficiency.
  • Lowering transaction value thresholds: The network supports microtransactions by reducing the minimum transaction amount and facilitating small-value payments.

The significance of the lightning network

  • Enhances Bitcoin network transaction speed.
  • Reduces transaction fees, particularly for small payments.

3. Nostr

What is Nostr?

  • Nostr stands for “Notes and Other Stuff Transmitted by Relays” — a decentralized social protocol creating an uncensored global social network. Nostr relies on cryptographic keys and signatures without issuing tokens.

Imagine Nostr as a social network, similar to Twitter. Users can create posts or “notes” (similar to tweets), like posts, follow and unfollow other users, and “boost” posts (similar to retweets). On Nostr, you might see the terms “post” and “note” used interchangeably. In the context of Nostr, an “event” can refer to any of the aforementioned actions.

It’s crucial to be explicitly clear: Nostr is a protocol. It constitutes a set of rules for communication between servers and clients (similar to Bitcoin or email protocols). Nostr is not an application, nor is it a “platform” in the sense of Twitter or Facebook. However, numerous applications can be built on top of the Nostr protocol.

Unlike Twitter, Nostr is decentralized. No central server or company is controlling what you can post or what others can see. Nostr features censorship resistance and open-source characteristics.

Features of Nostr:

  • Independent of central servers, based on cryptographic keys and signatures.
  • Decentralized, resistant to censorship.
  • Not an application but a protocol for building various applications.

The significance of Nostr:

  • Enables censorship-resistant publishing, offering more freedom compared to traditional social media.
  • Introduces a new social protocol to address challenges of restricted speech and algorithmic control.

4. Nostr Assets Protocol

What is Nostr Assets Protocol?

  • Nostr Assets Protocol is an open-source protocol introducing Taproot assets and Satoshis (Bitcoin units) to the Nostr ecosystem.

The significance of Nostr Assets Protocol:

  • Expands use cases for Lightning Network assets, providing more applications in social networks, payments, and DeFi.
  • Lowers user entry barriers, simplifying the user experience.
  • Enhances liquidity and asset management, introducing various assets.
  • Promotes the development of decentralized business infrastructure within the ecosystem.

5. Taproot Assets Protocol

What are Taproot Assets?

Taproot Assets (formerly known as Taro) is a protocol supported by Taproot, designed to enable users to issue both fungible and non-fungible tokens on the Bitcoin blockchain. Launched by Lightning Labs at the end of 2022, the protocol aims to introduce asset issuance into the Bitcoin ecosystem.

The Taproot Assets Protocol (TAP) is built upon the Taproot Bitcoin upgrade implemented in November 2021. This upgrade empowers developers to embed metadata for assets within existing unspent transaction outputs (UTXOs). Simultaneously, it adopts Schnorr signatures to enhance scalability and simplicity while ensuring compatibility with the Lightning Network.

TAP enables users to transfer assets via the Lightning Network (LN), enjoying nearly instantaneous and cost-effective transactions. Consequently, it leverages the scalability, speed, and cost-effectiveness of the Lightning Network while benefiting from the stability and security of the Bitcoin network.

Operation of Taproot Assets:

The implementation of the Taproot upgrade (a soft fork) aims to enhance Bitcoin’s scalability. It includes three improvement proposals: Schnorr signatures, Tapscript, and Taproot.

Schnorr signatures enable multiple transactions to be verified in a single bundle, while Tapscript supports Taproot and Schnorr signatures, making it easier to encode new features on the blockchain. Taproot allows users to set spending conditions for UTXOs, ensuring that only UTXOs meeting the specified conditions are publicly visible on the blockchain, enhancing privacy in the Bitcoin network.

The significance of Taproot Assets

  • Asset Issuance on the Bitcoin Blockchain: Taproot Assets enables users to issue both fungible and non-fungible tokens on the Bitcoin blockchain, bringing asset issuance into the Bitcoin ecosystem.
  • Efficient Asset Transfers: By being compatible with the Lightning Network, Taproot Assets achieves near-instantaneous and cost-effective asset transfers, leveraging the scalability, speed, and cost-effectiveness of the Lightning Network.
  • Flexible Asset Rule Definitions: Issuers can define rules for assets, such as total supply and limits when minting fungible or non-fungible tokens. The cryptographic enforcement of these rules is handled by the Taproot Assets client.
  • Multi-Asset Control and Unspent Transaction Output Optimization: Taproot Assets allows multiple assets to be controlled by the same output, and it can aggregate multiple transactions into a single UTXO, optimizing unspent transaction outputs.
  • Holding and Sending Taproot Assets: Assets are stored in a wallet that holds both Taproot Assets keys and Taproot keys. The Taproot Assets wallet also keeps track of which digital assets are stored in which UTXOs.

By understanding Bitcoin’s native chain, Lightning Network, Nostr, Nostr Assets Protocol, and Taproot Assets Protocol, we gain a better grasp of these concepts and how they contribute to a more open, free, and efficient digital economic ecosystem.

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