Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is once again experiencing a ideology split within it’s community and development groups. Importantly, this isn’t the first – and probably will not be the last – time that there has been a topic of concern in the community. To understand what is happening now, we first need to understand what has made Bitcoin Cash what it is today.
2017 Bitcoin Split
Although Bitcoin forks are something of a commonly occurring event now; back in 2017 it was a very different matter. Prior to August 2017, competing digital currencies were fundamentally separated from each other. When the Bitcoin Project announced a SegWit, it was a huge change in the handling of transactions on the blockchain. Whitepaper loyalists argued that it was a break away from the plan outlined by Satoshi and therefore could no longer be considered a true representation of Bitcoin.
In August 2017, a set of developers cloned the Bitcoin network and created a forked version, which we now know as Bitcoin Cash.
Bitcoin SV Split
Although much of the headlines about Bitcoin SV were focused on Craig Wright, the fundamental cause for the 2018 split was in relation to how blockchain size would need to be handled in order to scale for market growth. The Bitcoin Cash development community was continuing to make minor changes to the codebase, while a small faction was starting to push for a return to the exact set of parameters originally outlined by the Bitcoin whitepaper.
In November 2018, Bitcoin SV forked away from Bitcoin Cash. Unlike the 2017 fork where both sides had an overall amicable split; the publicity associated with Bitcoin SV and general in-fighting created a 2 week period of fighting for which coin had the longest chain. Eventually this was settled by agreement between the 2 development teams and the matter was settled. We now had 2 new forks; Bitcoin SV and Bitcoin ABC.
Amaury was a major contributor to the Bitcoin Unlimited project; because resigning from his position in late 2019. Since that time; Amaury has gained significant control over the development process of Bitcoin ABC, and is often jokingly referred to as Bitcoin Cash’s Benevolent Dictator. While some have raised concerns about so much control being given to a single person, the outward appearance has been of a tense but unified team.
That began to fracture when the idea of an Independent Developer Fund (IDF) was put on the table prior to the February 2020 developers meeting. Amaury argued that by enforcing a rule where miners must provide a % of fresh coins into a fund, would ensure that the future development needs of the chain were maintained. After a long period of debate, the IDF was ultimately voted down and withdrawn from future discussion.
2020 November Difficulty Adjusted
And that brings us to the present potential for a fork. As part of the upcoming adjustment to the algorithm that controls mining difficultly; Amaury has once again introduced the idea of an IDF. This time, however, there is no vote and no debate. 8% of all freshly minted coins will need to be sent to a specified address in order for a block to be considered acceptable to be included in the blockchain.
This has, understandably, created outrage within the community and a lot of debate. In the background, conversations and negotiations are ongoing to find common ground where development can continue. However, what we do know is that a change of this magnitude will create a fork of the previous code. What remains to be seen is whether a new faction of developers break off from here and either create their own version of Bitcoin Cash; or allow for the ongoing development of the existing chain.
For the ongoing chain to continue; it will need developers; community engagement; and – most importantly – miners to all continue to maintain the usage and security of the chain outside of the Bitcoin ABC ecosystem.
Bitcoin Cash has, from its birth, been a ground swell against development changes. However each new fork fragments the community into smaller and smaller groups. Without the community finding new outside interest; there is a risk that these continued forks could make the group so small it becomes insignificant in the ever expanding digital currency world.
Hopefully, cooler heads prevail.