Journal of Computer Science and Technology ›› 2019, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (2): 403-415.doi: 10.1007/s11390-019-1916-x

Special Issue: Computer Architecture and Systems; Computer Networks and Distributed Computing

• Computer Networks and Distributed Computing • Previous Articles     Next Articles

MicroBTC: Efficient, Flexible and Fair Micropayment for Bitcoin Using Hash Chains

Zhi-Guo Wan1, Member, CCF, ACM, IEEE, Robert H. Deng2, Fellow, IEEE, David Lee3, Ying Li4   

  1. 1 School of Computer Science and Technology, Shandong University, Qingdao 266237, China;
    2 School of Information Systems, Singapore Management University, Singapore 188065, Singapore;
    3 School of Business, Singapore University of Social Sciences, Singapore 599494, Singapore;
    4 Beijing Institute of Tracking and Telecommunications Technology, Beijing 100094, China
  • Received:2017-11-19 Revised:2018-11-29 Online:2019-03-05 Published:2019-03-16
  • About author:Zhi-Guo Wan is an associate professor in the School of Computer Science and Technology, Shandong University, Qingdao. His main research interests include applied cryptography, privacy enhancing techniques, and system security. He received his B.S. degree in computer science from Tsinghua University, Bejing, in 2002, and his Ph.D. degree from School of Computing, National University of Singapore, Singapore, in 2007. He was a faculty member in School of Software, Tsinghua University, Beijing, and a postdoctoral researcher in K.U.Leuven of Belgium during 2006-2008. He has served in program committees of dozens of international conferences.
  • Supported by:
    This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant Nos. 61370027 and 61832012.

While Bitcoin gains increasing popularity in different payment scenarios, the transaction fees make it difficult to be applied to micropayment. Given the wide applicability of micropayment, it is crucial for all cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin to provide effective support therein. In light of this, a number of low-cost micropayment schemes for Bitcoin have been proposed recently to reduce micropayment costs. Existing schemes, however, suffer from drawbacks such as high computation cost, inflexible payment value, and possibly unfair exchanges. The paper proposes two new micropayment schemes, namely the basic MicroBTC and the advanced MicroBTC, for Bitcoin by integrating the hash chain technique into cryptocurrency transactions. The basic MicroBTC realizes micropayment by exposing hash pre-images on the hash chain one by one, and it can also make arbitrary micropayments by exposing multiple hash pre-images. We further design the advanced MicroBTC to achieve non-interactive refund and efficient hash chain verification. We analyze the complexity and security of the both MicroBTC schemes and implement them using the Bitcoin source code. Extensive experiments were conducted to validate their performance, and the result showed that a micropayment session can be processed within about 18 ms for the basic MicroBTC and 9 ms for the advanced MicroBTC on a laptop. Both schemes enjoy great efficiency in computation and flexibility in micropayments, and they also achieve fairness for both the payer and the payee.

Key words: blockchain; micropayment; cryptocurrency; hash chain; Bitcion;

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