If you’re a cryptocurrency aficionado, the last week or so has been particularly harrowing – especially if you’re holding Bitcoin in your portfolio. Meteoric growth and volatile corrections, only to see that growth return, is enough to make any Bitcoin enthusiast reach for the antacids, but most experienced crypto disciples this is par for the course.
For the uninitiated, there’s probably a lot of head-scratching. What’s going on? Well, it depends who you ask. If you’re firmly in the Bitcoin Core camp, you likely view this summer’s hardfork of the currency – the one that created Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin’s little brother – as some sort of heretical event, orchestrated by lunatics who want to destroy the value of your carefully curated Bitcoin investment. Meanwhile, if you’re a Bitcoin Cash proponent, you’re probably pointing fingers at the old fogies clinging impotently to a slower, less agile blockchain that’s doomed to failure.
So who’s right and who’s wrong? Here’s what you need to know.
Bitcoin is, of course, the great grandaddy of all cryptocurrencies. The first blockchain ever, Bitcoin has been the inspiration for all that has come afterwards. Meanwhile, Bitcoin Cash is a new version of Bitcoin – a “hard fork” – that went into effect in August of 2017.
Bitcoin (BTC) has many advantages, according to anyone who will let them bend your ear. With ambitions of being the Internet Age’s gold standard of currency – quite literally, considering its valuation – Bitcoin’s strengths are in its rock-solid reliability, its resistance to censorship, its decentralization, and its transparency. There are problems with it – the age of the BTC blockchain means that it’s become quite cumbersome (and expensive) to record transactions, but nobody’s perfect.
Meanwhile, the creators of Bitcoin Cash position it as Bitcoin on a diet. Faster and with minimal fees, Bitcoin Cash (BCH) has high hopes of being the cryptocurrency used for everyday transactions, much like individuals in the Internet Age use PayPal or other online payment processors. The focus is much less on speculation and investment, though there are those who are, of course, watching the value of BCH spool up with avaricial glee in their hearts.
BTC Versus BCH: Development Tactics And Strategies
At its core, Bitcoin is a crowdsourced development project. Its open source nature means that anyone and everyone can contribute to its development – it is, in the end, just a highly sophisticated software program – but since there’s so much digital value at stake the individuals with the chops to actually tinker on Bitcoin Core are quite literally the cream of the crop. Running like a well-oiled machine, Bitcoin Core is constantly abuzz with research into new code, peer review and testing of that code, documentation of the entire process, and so on – and as a result, the Github database for the Core team is a constant state of churning out new content.
Meanwhile, the Bitcoin Cash development team is minuscule by comparison. To be fair, the hard fork is still in its infancy, so BCH having just a pair of developers working full time and an amorphous part-time development team is to be expected. That being said, there’s a distinct lack of documentation or visible, transparent action – for example, look at the 1 BCH Github commits versus Bitcoin Core’s 100+ commits. This is, of course, a big reason why so many people are giving Bitcoin Cash the fish eye. Meanwhile, the creation of Bitcoin originally flew under the radar as well in 2009, only to become a household name less than a decade later.
The Movers And Shakers
There’s more to differentiate Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, of course. The individuals involved in each endeavor are prime example of this.
The Bitcoin Core development team – a collection of largely voluntary software developers and engineers – has been hard at work for several years. Some of the most high profile members are Dr. Pieter Wuille, the project’s lead developer who’s been involved with Bitcoin Core since 2011 and the creator of segregated witnesses, or SegWit. There’s also Dr. Adam Back, Blockstream CEO and the inventor of the proof-of-work system that inspired the same one that Satoshi Nakamoto integrated into the Bitcoin blockchain. Another heavy hitter, Wladimir Ven Der Laan, who is actually paid by the Digital Currency Initiative for his services, is the lead maintainer for the project.
Meanwhile, we have Bitcoin Cash’s main cheerleaders – Craig Wright, Calvin Ayre, Jihan Wu, and Roger Ver. They are all major players in the cryptocurrency market but only one of them – Wright – is actually a developer. The rest are a bit of a motley crew, and perhaps more infamous than famous; Ver, for example, was once known as “Bitcoin Jesus” because of his evangelism for the platform but has since been re-branded “Bitcoin Judas” for his dismissal of the blockchain and the adoption of BCH. He’s also served 10 months in federal prison for selling explosives illegally on eBay.
The rest are similarly odd or tarnished – billionaire Calvin Ayre was at one time on the Homeland Security most wanted list for allegedly being involved in money laundering and illegal gambling, though he was cleared of those charges in 2017. Craig Wright once claimed to be the real Satoshi Nakamoto; he not only failed to provide adequate proof of this, but also was found to be attempting to use falsified documents to do so. Finally Jihan Wu is a Chinese crypto-mining magnate that was running black hat software that was so malicious that SegWit was created in part to nullify his advantage.
The Facts Speak For Themselves
Does this sound like a hit piece on Bitcoin Cash to you? Honestly that wasn’t our intention. But the facts are facts – and there’s even more facts coming your way to let you make up your own decision.
When you compare the two networks – Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash – there are more dissimilarities. Bitcoin Core’s 7,800 active nodes is far and away much more than the 1,200 nodes running BCH. Moreover, more than half of the hash power of these 1,200 nodes are owned by Roger Ver and Jihan Wu, either directly or as part of mining pools, making the Bitcoin Cash network much less decentralized – and if Ver and Wu ever decide to strong arm the network for any reason, they can easily do so.
Many will look at this information and, taken together with the individuals involved in both blockchain development teams and their reputations, immediately make a decision favoring BTC or BCH. Is there room in this world for two Bitcoin blockchains? Maybe so, maybe no. Is BCH that second blockchain that can coexist peacefully besides its older brother? Unlikely, considering how BCH developers have, on more than one occasion, claimed that they literally want to “kill” Bitcoin.
You, of course, can make your own decision. Fortune often favors the bold, even when the bold are jerks.