The battle for Bitcoin’s identity heated up today, as Roger Ver’s Bitcoin.com portal declared it would now use “Bitcoin (BCC)” to refer to the currency now known as Bitcoin Cash. It will refer to the existing BTC blockchain as “Segwit Coin (BTC)”.
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Bitcoin Core ‘Wrested Control’ Says Ver
In an online position statement, the company made clear it considers the current dominant blockchain to not represent Bitcoin. Describing the long history of the Bitcoin scaling debate, it said:
Eventually, a small group of programmers calling themselves “Bitcoin Core” wrested control of the legacy development branch of Bitcoin and began to insist, counter-intuitively, that Bitcoin was incapable of scaling to more than 250,000 transactions per day, or about 4.5 cents worth of bandwidth at 2008 prices.
Bitcoin lost its original appeal as it hit transaction capacity and fees rose to $9 or more, it continued. Additions such as “replace-by-fee” (RBF) and segregated witness (SegWit) removed many of Bitcoin’s defining features, turning it into a speculative asset class rather than money. It then said:
“This group is no longer capable of representing fundamental Bitcoin ideals — nor are they able to advance any of the original payments-related value propositions. To be sure, those within this group are devoted, hard-working, and talented. But, given the above facts of the matter, it is impossible for such a group to rightfully use the word “bitcoin” in their name. “Segwit Core” seems much more appropriate.”
Naming Move Will Stir Plenty of Trouble
The naming move is highly controversial. It opens a direct identity conflict with (SegWit-enabled) Bitcoin, plus Bitcoin Core developers and supporters. Many in the wider community resent Bitcoin Cash using any names or symbols suggesting it is Bitcoin.
These groups usually refer to Bitcoin Cash as “Bcash” to remove the Bitcoin name completely.
Others in the industry may also be wary, anticipating two rival Bitcoins with identical branding will confuse newcomers — and risk expensive transaction errors. Stability, network effect and market cap may be more appealing than ideology.
Some will take the democracy angle — whereby you might not agree with the outcome of an election, but accept the result as legitimate under the rules. And the rule of Bitcoin is that whichever blockchain has the majority of hashing power backing it is “Bitcoin”.
That’s not a legally-enforceable principle though, and in the end it’s up to each “side” to prove its worth in the marketplace. It’s even possible there may never be a final resolution.
Will the SegWit2x Fork Help Anything?
Ver’s declaration comes before another proposed hard fork in November, where the economic and hashing majority is supporting either SegWit2x (with a 2MB block size) or SegWit-only (around 1MB).
This fork could help solve the problem, or it could muddy the waters even further. To Bitcoin.com though, only the original non-SegWit chain can be Bitcoin. Subsequent forks will only produce Segwit2x, Segwit1x, even SegwitGold (a.k.a. Bitcoin Gold).
No-one ‘Owns’ Bitcoin… Or Everyone Does
It’s no secret that Ver and his supporters regard the “big block” and SegWit-free currency as the one true Bitcoin. However making this claim officially, and backing it with an editorial shift at one of Bitcoin’s most popular information portals, will rile his adversaries in the community.
Bitcoin Cash has also received a degree of support from members of the mining community in China, namely Bitmain and ViaBTC. No major group has yet devoted the majority of its hashing power to the forked blockchain yet.
Bitcoin is an open source and decentralized project. No individual or entity “owns” its intellectual property, including the name and branding. Legally, any project can legally declare itself “Bitcoin” — but it won’t get far without widespread recognition of its legitimacy.
What’s going to happen next? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Images via Wikimedia Commons, YouTube, Bitcoin Core