Bitcoin Cash’s First Birthday Marks Expansion Beyond Just Money
Hundreds gathered in Hong Kong yesterday to mark the first birthday of Bitcoin Cash. Interestingly, though, projects in Asia and beyond are now focusing more on BCH’s capacity for more complex transaction code to enable smart contracts, rather than the simple “large blocks, cheaper transactions” mantras of months past.
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New smart contract projects built on BCH include RSK, Bitprim’s Keoken, and the Bitmain-backed Wormhole. They all featured prominently in the anniversary event, which also showcased a series of pitches from startups taking BCH in new directions, rather than just building a cash-spending infrastructure.
Large and Lavish Birthday Party
Anyone who expected a grassroots-style meetup event to mark the birthday of the people’s everyday spending crypto would have been taken aback — not least by the huge crowd, security detail and lavish decor at the one-day summit.
Anyone familiar with past bitcoin/crypto conferences in China probably wouldn’t be surprised, though. When talking about new money it’s important to project an image of prosperity and hope.
Today’s BCH anniversary event was a tightly-organized affair in the Ritz Carlton at Hong Kong’s International Commerce Centre, the city’s tallest building. If it wasn’t clear before, it is now — BCH is a big deal in China. That’s significant, as the country is still home to a significant number of crypto miners, investors, and ASIC hardware manufacturing.
It doesn’t hurt that China has financially savvy and economically permissive cities like Hong Kong, and a huge expat community worldwide all ready to spread the word.
Bitmain Seeks to Invest More in BCH
Bitmain CEO Jihan Wu took a measured tone, though noted that BCH should be more than just money. “On top of this ideal we can build a strong foundation of cryptocurrency. If not, we’re just building castles in the air,” he said.
Wu said Bitcoin could and should support multiple tokens, increasing the amount of OP_RETURN data to allow for Turing-complete scripting, since BCH’s larger transaction blocks allow it. That would permit tools like platform tokens, contracts, and futures.
He cautioned against some of the irrational exuberance surrounding ICOs, saying many created no new value and existed only to transfer wealth from naive investors to token sale operators. Tokens created should have some platform use, such as those launched by exchanges like CoinEx and Huobi.
Bitcoin Cash, Wu said, would help Bitcoin fulfil its original aim to help businesspeople, people in developing countries, and those ruled by corrupt governments.
Ver Expresses Frustration at BTC
Roger Ver, who kicked off the anniversary summit by repeating the calls for greater economic freedom he admitted he’s been delivering at conferences since 2011, called the date “the one year anniversary of the preservation of Bitcoin”.
“It’s still the true for BCH but sadly it’s no longer true for BTC … I consider BTC the altcoin these days.”
“This has been so frustrating. I’ve been literally crying myself to sleep over the past couple of years (over what his opponents have cause the original BTC to become).”
Jiang Zhuoer: Equity Stock Is the Next Step
Investor and BTC.TOP CEO Jiang Zhuoer ramped up the libertarian rhetoric, saying governments tended mostly to inhibit humans’ ability to transact and create the money they wanted to use.
Monetary liberty was Bitcoin’s first outlet from government control, but the second is the liberty to issue equity stock. He called for more smart contract layers on BCH, referring specifically to Wormhole. “Currency itself doesn’t require new functions, but currency competition does,” he said.
Jiang said not every Bitcoin user needed to operate a full node, asking “Do we ensure the safety of our food by making everyone farm?”
Wright Talks Automated Companies, Takes Aim at Lightning Network
Dr. Craig Wright, who may or may not have mined the first-ever BCH block in 2009, has been an outspoken proponent of Bitcoin Cash as something that Bitcoin was always meant to be. And it was always supposed to be something more than just money — truly automated companies, with real shares, common stock, dividends and voting rights, were just as significant to achieving economic freedom as non-government-controlled digital cash.
“This is where the big money starts getting involved,” Wright said. “Real investors” today don’t take crypto seriously; regarding it as little more than a game. So we don’t just need coins and utility tokens, we want automated governance. BCH-based smart contracts permit bonds and capital-raising, interest and automated ratings, tracking, choice of exchanges to switch funds.
Wright also took a few shots at Lightning network, which he called “not a protocol, but a proxy”. LN node operators might feel safe now that they aren’t covered by regulation, but in the future they’d need to register as money handlers. And that would bode poorly for even today’s operators — it takes governments five years to notice, understand and start enforcing laws that apply to new technology.
He also refuted the notion that more nodes meant more decentralization. “Does anyone actually know what the hell decentralized means?” he asked. “You don’t get more decentralized by adding nodes, you get it by adding connections … if we didn’t have ASICs, we’d still have data centers.”
Businesses using blockchain technology didn’t want something experimental, they need certainty, he added. Bitcoin’s core design was “set in stone in 2009” and changes since the 2017 fork represented something untested and different to the way Bitcoin was supposed to function.
David Jerry: First Birthday Shows Fork Worries Were False
SBI BITS’ David Jerry (Jerry Chan) said BCH reaching its first birthday had dispelled many of the predictions of doom some had made before the hard fork. BCH had not led to a proliferation of hard forks, mining had not centralized, BCH had not had any problems scaling, and proof-of-work energy usage was not the issue many had tried to make it.
He added to the concerns over Bitcoin BTC’s Lightning Network, saying the coins locked away in LN channels would eventually have a different value to those remaining “free” to use. He displayed a graphic he said showed the Lightning Network was indeed coalescing around several major nodes. This could lead to further problems such as fractional reserve practices and double-spend risks if atomic swaps between nodes become a reality.
Jerry also called for more merchant payment protocols for BCH, and tokenization layers.
Time for BCH to Move on
At one year old, Bitcoin Cash’s community believes it’s time to move on from the Bitcoin scaling debate that triggered the August 2017 blockchain split. If the Hong Kong summit was any indication, it has plenty of support from both developers and the investors and miners that will keep the network operational.
Some present predicted another birthday party in August 2019, and that it would be even bigger than this year’s.
Do you think Bitcoin Cash will evolve to become something more useful than money? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.
Images via Jon Southurst, Bitsonline