Bitcoin Cash (BCC) has surpassed Bitcoin as the longer blockchain, as lower difficulty brought in more hashing power. More Bitcoin mining pools are also offering members a BCC option.
At press time, the Bitcoin Cash blockchain was almost 200 blocks longer than Bitcoin. Lowered difficulty plus more miners meant blocks are coming far more frequently — sometimes only one or two minutes apart.
At the same time, Bitcoin itself is mining one block every 15 minutes, on average.
Early Mining Difficulty Issues Meant Slower Blocks
In the immediate aftermath of the hard fork that created BCC on 1st August, many wondered if it could attract enough hashing power to survive. An overwhelming majority of miners stayed loyal to Bitcoin — meaning BCC was being mined with just a handful of machines, but with BTC’s high difficulty.
There’s a key difference in the way the two networks adjust mining difficulty — a mechanism in their code that attempts to keep block confirmation times (and new coins) at regular, roughly ten-minute intervals. Without difficulty adjustments, more powerful mining machines would mine all the coins too quickly.
Conversely, if difficulty is too high then blocks don’t get confirmed for hours. This was the case with BCC in its first week or so.
Bitcoin (BTC) recalculates mining difficulty every 2,016 blocks, which is usually around two weeks. Bitcoin Cash (BCC) is more flexible — it checks the Median Time of its past six blocks, and if they’re coming out fast enough, it drops difficulty by 20 percent.
This is exactly what happened. Then, once the difficulty dropped, additional miners came on board. The recent BCC price jump to $600-700 USD levels also made mining more economically attractive.
More Mining Pools Joining In
Several of Bitcoin’s most well-known mining pools now offer a BCC option for members. They include Bitmain’s Antpool, BTC.com, F2Pool, and BATPOOL. Original supporter ViaBTC is still the largest pool (with 25 percent of the network) and around half is mined by the mysterious “other”.
Thank you all for supporting Bitcoin cash. Bitcoin cash is becoming more and more decentralized. pic.twitter.com/Qu7VakNzKK
— ViaBTC (@ViaBTC) August 22, 2017
But Isn’t Bitcoin Cash Just an Altcoin?
BCC (sometimes BCH) is often called “an altcoin” by its detractors. While this is technically true, the years-long baggage of the Bitcoin block size debate sets it far apart from other altcoins, and even other projects directly forked from Bitcoin.
Additionally, BCC is mined with the same ASIC miners running the same hashing algorithm, meaning participants are free to switch between the two chains depending on which is more profitable. Difficulty levels and token price will continue to play a big part in determining this.
BCC’s controversial existence, and contentious differences in ideology between BTC and BCC, mean it can be hard to get accurate information even from knowledgable sources.
Bitcoin (BTC) remains the dominant chain, with the most miner support and a far higher market value. This indicates more economic confidence in the main chain, at least for now.
Future technical challenges remain for both sides. Bitcoin needs to successfully implement SegWit and build second-layer payment infrastructure to take advantage of it. On the other hand, Bitcoin Cash must prove its larger blocks can handle user demand on-chain, and that its development team has adequate skills.
What’s your prediction for Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash? Let’s hear your thoughts.
Images via BitcoinCash.org, Pixabay