Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Bitcoin vs Bitcoin Cash. What really happened?

 When Bitcoin Cash (BCH) was created as a result of the hard fork on August 1 2017, many investors did not expect this new cryptocurrency to compete with Bitcoin (BTC). Despite an initial price rally in August, the value of BCash declined during September and October, eventually being worth just 0.052 BTC by October 21.

After the Bitcoin hard fork (SegWit2x) was called off on November 8, the price of BCash started to rally. There were many claims on social media that BCash was the new Bitcoin, that this was the start of the “flippening” and that many loyal Bitcoin holders were heading for the exit because Bitcoin would now not scale due to it’s high fees and slow transaction times.

Was there really a mass exodus out of Bitcoin for these reasons? Certainly the price of Bitcoin declined by approximately 20% over the next few days. However, the massive surge in the BCash trading volume and price could not be explained solely by investors moving out of Bitcoin. There was clearly new money piling into BCash, mostly through the South Korean exchanges.

I would argue that there were also some underhand tactics by the BCash team in order to attack the Bitcoin network. On November 9 the Bitcoin mempool started to increase in size dramatically, eventually reaching 160,000 unconfirmed transactions (the mempool stores Bitcoin transactions that are waiting to be confirmed). Was this huge increase in unconfirmed transactions due to investors desperately trying to get out of Bitcoin or had the network been a victim of an attack involving many tens of thousands of small spam transactions? Once the mempool was congested, BCash and it’s supporters were able to make substantiated claims that Bitcoin was now dysfunctional, useless and a sinking ship.

I realise that the BCash team are doing their utmost to promote their digital currency, but do they really need to obtain validity by launching network attacks on Bitcoin and then pointing to the damage caused in order to claim that Bitcoin is finished and is no longer a functioning system.

At present BCash does have much lower fees and faster payments due to it’s 8mb block size. However, many people have overlooked the fact that the Bitcoin improvement proposal (BIP148) user activated soft fork (UASF) took place on the Bitcoin network back in August and as a result the block size has increased slightly beyond the previous 1mb limit.

The weekend of November 11/12, 2017 was certainly an historical and pivotal moment in the Bitcoin story thus far. My guess is that there will be more battles between the current and future Bitcoin hard forks as we journey on through the ever expanding crypto universe.

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