Introducing a version field to BIP39 mnemonic phrases

Introducing a version field to BIP39 mnemonic phrases

Original Postby Pavol Rusnak

Posted on: January 13, 2024 16:31 UTC

The evolution of standards within the cryptocurrency domain, particularly concerning seed phrases and their associated metadata, is a given due to the constant emergence of new use cases.

A testament to this ongoing development is LND's creation of the aezeed standard as an alternative to Electrum v2. The aezeed approach, however, presents certain challenges; as per the documentation provided, users are required to convert their seed via a website, which may not be ideal from a security standpoint. Furthermore, LND necessitates the specification of a derivation path when recovering funds because the aezeed format does not inherently encode it.

On the contrary, CLN continues to support the BIP39 standard, which streamlines the recovery process, allowing CLN funds to be retrieved effortlessly through any wallet that is compatible with BIP39. This ease of use can be significantly beneficial for users who might otherwise struggle with more complex recovery procedures.

Despite the innovative spirit that drives the Bitcoin community, there is a growing consensus on the importance of maintaining the integrity of existing standards like BIP39. This 'ossification' of the base entropy layer helps to prevent confusion and ensures compatibility across different platforms and wallets. It is suggested that new experimental standards should deliberately avoid using seed lengths identical to those of BIP39, specifically avoiding 12, 15, 18, 21, or 24-word formats, to clearly differentiate them from the established protocol.

The underlying message emphasizes a balance between innovation and clarity, urging developers to venture into new territories while maintaining a clear distinction from BIP39 to avoid user confusion. For further information on restoring LND funds using Electrum, users can refer to the detailed guide available at LightningNode. This guidance reflects a deep respect for foundational principles while acknowledging the dynamic nature of technological advancements in Bitcoin-related projects.