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Pay-to-Script-Hash (P2SH) was introduced in 2012 as a powerful new type of transaction that greatly simplifies the use of complex transaction scripts. With P2SH payments, the complex locking script is replaced with its digital fingerprint, a cryptographic hash. When a transaction attempting to spend the UTXO is presented later, it must contain the script that matches the hash, in addition to the unlocking script. In simple terms, P2SH means “pay to a script matching this hash, a script that will be presented later when this output is spent.”

In P2SH transactions, the locking script that is replaced by a hash is referred to as the redeem script because it is presented to the system at redemption time rather than as a locking script.


Bitcoin addresses that begin with the number “3” are pay-to-script-hash (P2SH) addresses, sometimes erroneously called multisignature or multisig addresses. They designate the beneficiary of a bitcoin transaction as the hash of a script, instead of the owner of a public key.

The P2SH feature offers the following benefits compared to the direct use of complex scripts in locking outputs:

  • Complex scripts are replaced by shorter fingerprints in the transaction output, making the transaction smaller.
  • Scripts can be coded as an address, so the sender and the sender’s wallet don’t need complex engineering to implement P2SH.
  • P2SH shifts the burden of constructing the script to the recipient, not the sender.
  • P2SH shifts the burden in data storage for the long script from the output (which is in the UTXO set) to the input (stored on the blockchain).
  • P2SH shifts the burden in data storage for the long script from the present time (payment) to a future time (when it is spent).
  • P2SH shifts the transaction fee cost of a long script from the sender to the recipient, who has to include the long redeem script to spend it.

Multisignature Addresses

Currently, the most common implementation of the P2SH function is the multisignature address script. As the name implies, the underlying script requires more than one signature to prove ownership and therefore spend funds. The bitcoin multisignature feature is designed to require M signatures (also known as the “threshold”) from a total of N keys, known as an M-of-N multisig, where M is equal to or less than N.

For example, suppose Bob is the owner of a coffee shop owner and he uses a multisignature address requiring 1-of-2 signatures from a key belonging to him and a key belonging to his spouse, ensuring either of them could sign to spend a transaction output locked to this address. This would be similar to a “joint account” as implemented in traditional banking where either spouse can spend with a single signature.


P2SH is not necessarily the same as a multisignature standard transaction. A P2SH address most often represents a multisignature script, but it might also represent a script encoding other types of transactions.