The past six months have been a busy month for Bitcoin, with its value more than doubling and wall street investors jumping on board Bitcoin is a force to be reckoned with. However, along with these notable positives there has also been a whole lot of forking going on.
The first fork this year occurred following the lock-in of BIP 91 on July 21st, 2017. BIP 91 was supported by 97% of miners, the purpose of BIP 91 was to basically pave the way for BIP 141 which was to implement Segregated Witness on the chain and then finally implement Segwit2x later in the year which would increase the maximum block size to 2MB. However, some people in the Bitcoin community didn’t believe the 2MB block size went far enough in speeding up the transaction times and so Bitcoin Cash was born on August 1st.
Bitcoin Cash offers a maximum block size of 8MB and therefore increases the number of transactions per second eight fold. There are other differences to the protocol, one being that mining difficulty is adjusted more frequently.
There is far more to say about Bitcoin Cash, however, for the purpose of this article enough has been said.
Bitcoin Gold was forked from the original legacy chain on October 23rd, 2017. Bitcoin Gold’s main difference is it’s ASIC resistant mining algorithm, thus allowing domestic miners to jump back in the game with GPU mining. The point of this being an attempt to form a more decentralised mining network rather than what we have now with Bitcoin, which has had it’s hashrate dominated by huge operations such as Bitmain.
In reality though this solves very little and unless Bitcoin Gold was going to replace Bitcoin, which is won’t, it changes nothing in the great scheme of things. It will merely get shelved away as just another Altcoin.
Bitcoin Segwit2x Hard Fork
Initially the Segwit2x hardfork was to take place sometime around the middle of November, however due to a big pushback by the Bitcoin community the hardfork was cancelled. This then led to many big block fanatics throwing all their toys out the pram and pushing for Bitcoin Cash as the ‘real’ Bitcoin.
This then led to a huge pump in Bitcoin Cash’s value with just for a brief time Bitcoin Cash being equal to 0.5BTC before then dropping back to around a value of 0.2BTC. A huge twitter storm has been present for several days now between Bitcoin supporters and Bitcoin Cash supporters, both sides cheerleading their favourite chain while bashing those on the other side.
All this aside though, it is now rumoured that an unknown team of developers are going to push ahead with the Segwit2x Hard fork regardless. Bitcoin2x.org are supposedly sorting out the replay protection. Whether this proposal is a joke or not has yet to be seen. If you browse their website though you’d be wondering what on earth is going on, with statements such as this:
Bitcoin2x is the result of the bitcoin fork that occurred on November 16th, 2017.
and then this:
Bitcoin2x came into existence on November 16th, 2017.
It seems one of two things have occurred, I have fallen into a time travelling portal and moves 3 days ahead, or alternatively the website has written the statements with the future in mind. But regardless it’s another potential fork and thus more confusion.
To Much Forking About Never Ends Well
Regardless of your views on Block Size or other aspects of the Bitcoin protocol, forking it at every given opportunity is bad for the ecosystem. Especially when you fork it then brand yourself with the same name. Bitcoin was supposed to be about taking control of our wealth, taking power away from the banks, allowing a decentralised economy to evolve from the community that endorses it. However, what we see now is Bitcoin warfare driven by (in my opinion) primarily greed.
It would be unfair of me to claim everyone involved is driven by money, however it certainly isn’t being driven by the betterment of Bitcoin.
We are delaying any kind of Mainstream Bitcoin adoption due to the recent forks, there is also the high possibility of something else to take it’s place as the big daddy of crypto. As we fight over who’s chain is better those who want to jump into the space are holding back due to all the recent confusion. It’s all very well for those of us who’ve been with cryptocurrency since the early days, but for the average Joe who just wants to start becoming unbanked and by some Bitcoin it’s a minefield.
So much conflicting information and propaganda is flying about on social media and reddit that is newbies get wind of any of this they’re likely to run a mile stick to the dollar.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Unfortunately the very thing that makes Bitcoin great and revolutionary is the same thing that is could be it’s downfall, humans have an amazing historical record of abusing all things great and they have a tendency to do this by misusing the very things that make it great.
Bitcoin is not perfect by any means and there is much room for improvement, but as the famous saying goes ‘Don’t fix that which is not broken’.
The biggest debate has been over large transaction fee’s and long confirmation times, however in the great scheme of things is this really a major issue?
Have you ever tried to shift $50k worth of Gold from one side of the World to another, if so you’ll realise it costs far more and takes far longer than transfering Bitcoin. Traditional Banking is not much better, to transfer large sums across the World can be very expensive and very time consuming, not to mention the questioning that often arise from the Bank being used about where your money is going and why.
As for micropayments on Bitcoin, well, maybe it just isn’t the choice coin for such things, or alternatively maybe we need to just be patient and wait for something that can be implemented on the Bitcoin network that everyone, or at least a 90%+, can agree on. Rome wasn’t built overnight and Bitcoin is still a young puppy in the great scheme of things.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below, it’s an interesting topic and everyone deserves to have their say