BECH32, IBAN, doesn’t ring a bell?
Both are address formats used for transactions; on the BITCOIN / crypto sphere for the first; and the traditional bankning system for the second.
As defined by Wikipédia: “The International Bank Account Number (IBAN) is an internationally agreed system of identifying bank accounts across national borders to facilitate the communication and processing of cross border transactions with a reduced risk of transcription errors. It was originally adopted by the European Committee for Banking Standards (ECBS) and later as an international standard under ISO 13616:1997.”
Even if the norm exist since 1997, 23 years later this international standard is far from being used all over the world! I am not surprised as it is a norm from the traditional banking system whereby each system defends its own interests.
Bitcoin, as a worldwide crypto-currency has successfully deployed different address format. Since v0.19 bech32 addresses are set by default in the Bitcoin Core wallet.
Each Bech32 addresses starts with “bc1” and is specifically designed to work with SegWit technology. There are a number of technical benefits to using bech32 addresses, mainly that this format saves space on the blockchain, increasing efficiency.
But for you and me, the main advantage of using bech32 is that it limits human error when writing addresses.
So each bitcoin address format is more than numbers, it is linked to a full technological layer.
At the end, it is up to you (the user) to use one format or another. Obviously when you use it, you can benefit of different features.
The bech32 address format is also used by other crypto-currencies such as Feathercoin where the prefix is “fc1” (instead of “bc1” for bitcoin). Therefore, this format will help to make transaction directly from one crypto A to crypto B using atomic swap feature.
From my point of view the bech32 format is more standard than IBAN and offers much more features. Even if the adoption rate is still low, it set the foundations for the next layer of the crypto-currencies alternative monetary system.