One Year Since the Great Hard Fork
August 1st, 2017, was probably one of the most significant dates in Bitcoin’s history. It marked the hard fork that split the blockchain in two, created Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and officially divided the community. While several first-anniversary events will take place to mark the occasion, several of BCH’s highest-profile participants will gather for a one-day summit — in the city where arguably it all began, Hong Kong.
BitCoin ATM in Hong Kong. (Bitcoin ATM Map)
“Scaling for Consensus: The First Anniversary Global Summit of Bitcoin Cash” is a one-day symposium at Hong Kong’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel in a few days’ time, on August 1st. Main speakers include some of the names best-known for supporting Bitcoin Cash: Bitmain CEO Jihan Wu, Roger Ver, nChain’s Dr. Craig Wright, and BTC.top founder Zhuoer Jiang.
In addition, attendees will come from several other firms that have participated in the BCH community over the past year. Those include Bitprim’s Juan Garavaglia, BitKan CEO Fang Yu, ViaBTC and CoinEx CEO Haipo Yang, SBI BITS COO Jerry Chan, and Hongli Wang of BCH.club, which is organizing the event. Several other key developers from BCH’s family of software protocols (such as Bitcoin ABC, Bitcoin XT, and Bitcoin Unlimited) will also be there.
Many doubters and opponents never expected Bitcoin Cash to reach its first birthday, so the summit will be both a reflection and a celebration of what the community has achieved over the past year. Rather than shrinking away or becoming a novelty, BCH has continued to grow its base and is seeking new ways to add functionality to its on-chain scaling philosophy.
Hong Kong is a recognized international financial center, and is often regarded as a bridge between the West and China, making it an appropriate location for the summit. However, the territory also played a key role in BCH history.
How Did Bitcoin Cash Reach Its First Birthday?
Two camps that for years had sparred over differing opinions on how to scale Bitcoin into a vast monetary system capable of replacing today’s fiat currencies. The “big blockers” favored a simple transaction block size increase, saying available technology permitted it. The “small blocker” camp wanted a strict limit on transaction block sizes, saying large capacity increases would centralize Bitcoin by only allowing large-scale mining operations to profit.
It’s still impossible to say who “won” the scaling debate, which sparked at Hong Kong Cyberport on February 21st, 2016. A gathering of developers and miners, including Bitcoin Core, reportedly agreed to implement segregated witness (SegWit) transactions on Bitcoin via a hard fork, which would also increase the transaction block size from 1MB to 2-4MB.
SegWit would assist second-layer payment networks like today’s Lightning Network, handling small transactions instantly while settling later on the main blockchain. However, it was also a radical alteration to the way Bitcoin functions — too radical, in the end, for many.
In the months and years since, that initial “Bitcoin Roundtable Consensus” deteriorated, though. Some were determined to implement SegWit without the block size increase, while others remained committed to keeping transaction structures the same while simply increasing the blocks.
Those on both sides would eventually accuse each other of failing to follow the spirit of the agreement. It also highlighted a possible divide between the Western and Chinese Bitcoin communities, with a larger number of Chinese miners and exchanges supporting BCH.
So Who ‘Won’ – And Does It Matter?
The small blockers did get their way and kept Bitcoin’s (BTC) name and market cap post-fork, taking the majority of mining hashpower after August 1st. That chain later implemented SegWit via a soft fork, introduced a new “block weight” size limit, and later in 2017 saw off the “SegWit2x” block size increase campaign. That’s the BTC we still know today, developed mainly by the Bitcoin Core team and associates.
However, the minority chain did not die off, as many anticipated. It rebranded as Bitcoin Cash (BCC or BCH), increased block size capacity to 8MB (later 32MB) and promised to keep all transactions on-chain. Bitcoin Cash also retained a significant market cap of its own, with many miners and prominent members of the community supporting it. During the crypto-bubble of late 2017, BCH reached heights of over $4,000 USD each.
At press time, Bitcoin (BTC) is worth $8,168 and Bitcoin Cash is $820. Anyone who held Bitcoin (BTC) at the moment of the fork (block 478558) received an equal share of Bitcoin Cash — making a profit for both supporters and opponents.
Controversy remains over which cryptocurrency represents “Satoshi Nakamoto’s true vision” for Bitcoin, with their communities hurling daily epithets at each other on social media platforms. BCH proponents feel BTC has deviated too far from the path and represents centralized control of development — and that the SegWit/Lightning Network combo is risky and experimental. Conversely, BTC proponents claim there can be only one Bitcoin and that on-chain scaling is untenable, calling BCH “an altcoin” or “Bcash”.
The initially-pejorative “BCH PLS” moniker became a slogan for Bitcoin Cash, and now appears regularly on that coin’s promotional apparel.
While there’s still no consensus between the two Bitcoin camps, neither looks like going away anytime soon. Most likely, August 1st will remain a birthday event in the years to come.
Anyone interested in attending the August 1st event can enroll and buy tickets at BCH.club. All funds will be donated to the Satoshi Foundation Ltd., an organization that supports projects that build the BCH ecosystem.