The team behind popular mobile app breadwallet have clarified its users will always have full control over their coins. It comes after concerns over what would happen to funds if Bitcoin hard forks again in the future.
Breadwallet Follows the Majority Chain
The concerns arose over an apparent misunderstanding of how breadwallet handles past and present blockchain hard forks. One user posted a PSA on Reddit (since deleted) that warned users they could lose their bitcoins if a forked coin gains a majority of hashing power at some stage.
Not so, said breadwallet CMO Aaron Lasher in a written response. In the event of a hard fork, the app “will automatically follow the longest chain with the most proof of work. This is simply how bitcoin is designed to work.”
Some feared that this meant breadwallet might suddenly switch to a forked chain, e.g.: Bitcoin Cash, even at a later date if that chain gained the majority hash power.
Lasher was referring to part of what’s called the “Nakamoto Consensus“. The concept is central to the way Bitcoin nodes trust new transaction blocks: whichever chain is backed by the most “work”, or hashing power that verifies blocks, is the correct chain.
Therefore, whichever arm of a fork gains the most work becomes the longest chain and is considered Bitcoin. The minority chain is not-Bitcoin, and either dies or becomes its own separate coin (or altcoin, if you prefer). That’s why even though Bitcoin Cash (BCC) technically has mined more blocks than Bitcoin, Bitcoin still has the most “work” backing it. Even if BCC gains a larger share of the hashing power someday, it’s still a separate coin.
Bitcoin Forks Confusing Many Users
The 1st August 2017 Bitcoin hard fork created a lot of confusion among users. Although everyone was advised to store coins in a wallet where they controlled the private keys, it wasn’t clear what to do afterward. Separating BTC from BCC balances wasn’t a clear-cut process, and most relied on their wallet software developers to provide tools.
Breadwallet also gave its users the option to separate BCC balances and send them to a new address. The company is also working on a full Bitcoin Cash implementation for those who want it.
There’s still a good chance Bitcoin may hard-fork again before the end of 2017. As part of the SegWit2x process, the network must choose whether it wants 2 MB block sizes or keep the original 1 MB. Again, breadwallet will side with nodes and automatically sync with the longest chain — even if it switches a few times before settling on the “real” one. However, this would still not result in any lost coins.
For more advanced users, breadwallet also offers “node tethering“. This allows the users to manually choose which chain they wish to support, whether it’s the majority chain or not.
In any case, if a hard fork happens and you want to guarantee you keep everything on every chain — just don’t make any transactions until you’re sure you know what you’re doing. That applies whether you use breadwallet or any other where you control your own keys.
Breadwallet launched in September 2014, becoming the first “decentralized” bitcoin wallet for the iOS platform, and one of the first for iOS devices after Apple lifted its ban on cryptocurrency wallets. It now has versions for both iOS and Android.
Have Bitcoin hard forks confused you at all? Feel free to ask questions in the comments.
Images via Pixabay, Jon Southurst