United Bitcoin aims to upgrade bitcoin by adding smart contracts to the network. Find out if it’s a legitimate competitor or just another unnecessary hard fork today in our review.
What is United Bitcoin?
United Bitcoin, or UBTC, is a new bitcoin-based project that recently appeared online at UB.com. The project aims to upgrade bitcoin by implementing smart contracts, among other features.
United Bitcoin was launched by Jeff Garzik, well-known for spearheading the Segwit2x hard fork proposed for the original bitcoin (BTC) blockchain. That hard fork would have doubled the block size of the original bitcoin blockchain, providing a better scaling solution.
Obviously, Ethereum was the first blockchain to implement smart contracts. Bitcoin (BTC) does not currently have smart contracts. We don’t know of any bitcoin hard fork that has successfully added smart contracts to the bitcoin network.
Despite these challenges, United Bitcoin believes it can accomplish the goal of adding smart contracts to the bitcoin network. The team also wants to add Lightning Network support.
United Bitcoin launched with an official hard fork on December 12, 2017.
There’s an overwhelming number of bitcoin hard forks on the market today. Let’s take a closer look at how United Bitcoin works to see if there’s any real substance behind the project.
How Does United Bitcoin Work?
One of the most unique features about United Bitcoin is the distribution process. Any bitcoin core (BTC) users who transfer their funds would be eligible to receive their UBTC balances if they transferred any bitcoin between block 494000 and block 498777 (between November 11 and December 12, 2017). The receiving address must be tethered to one of the input addresses, and cannot be a fresh new address. Meanwhile, the output address must contain a balance of more than 0.01 BTC.
Under this system, eligible bitcoin addresses will be credited UB 1:1 for every BTC they hold. If you hold 5 BTC in your eligible wallet, then you’ll receive 5 UBTC.
In more straightforward terms, you’re considered to have an “inactive” bitcoin wallet if you didn’t make a transaction between November 11 and December 12, 2017. The funds in inactive wallets will be used by the United Bitcoin Foundation.
Here’s where things get interesting: because of this distribution system, inactive bitcoin balances will be transferred to the UB Foundation. That means that, in theory, Satoshi Nakamoto’s bitcoin is at stake here. It also means any money locked in inactive bitcoin wallets (like locked wallets) will be moved to multi-signature addresses controlled by the United Bitcoin foundation.
Complicating things further is that the United Bitcoin fork requires users to use their existing BTC address, which means that the private keys of said address need to be imported into a third party client. This weakens user privacy.
An inactive address, by the way, is defined as a bitcoin address with no activity before November 11, 2017 (block 494000). It’s an inactive address because you didn’t automatically receive UBTC during phase 1 of the asset allocation procedure.
United Bitcoin Features
Some of the key features emphasized by United Bitcoin include:
- Same proof of work and issuance model as bitcoin, but with new “hi-speed smart contracts”
- Lightning Network support for faster and cheaper transactions
- Available at a rate of 1 BTC = 1 UBTC if you hold your own bitcoin private keys at the time of fork
- No pre-mining, stable system with fiat currency pegged reserves
- UTXO data model
- SHA256 PoW mining model (same as bitcoin)
- Same number of tokens as bitcoin (21 million total supply)
- SegWit support
- Replay protection to ensure that transactions on one chain cannot be replayed on another chain (replay protection is achieved through the use of new transaction signatures)
- Asset activation
Obviously, these are some ambitious goals. United Bitcoin claims to have “fiat currency pegged reserves” to back the value of its currency. That means the team holds a certain amount of USD (or another major fiat currency) in a reserve fund, and the value of United Bitcoin (UBTC) is linked to that reserve. That’s unusual for the crypto industry.
Who’s Behind United Bitcoin?
The team behind United Bitcoin purportedly began developing the project in June 2016. The first smart contract was fully tested in May 2017, followed by a beta test in September 2017. On December 5, the 0.5 version of the project was migrated to Github.
The currency was officially launched on December 12, 2017 with an event in Silicon Valley. The fork launched at BTC block height #498777, which occurred at around 12:00 GMT.
United Bitcoin was launched by Jeff Garzik (Board Member & Chief Scientist), SongXiu Hua (Board Member), Matthew Roszak, and Wouter van der Schagt (Board Member, Executive Director). Garzik is well-known in the crypto community for being the co-founder and CEO of Bloq, as well as the chief designer of Metronome and a major developer of SegWit2x.
The United Bitcoin LinkedIn page lists the headquarters as Hong Kong.
United Bitcoin Conclusion
United Bitcoin might be the most controversial bitcoin hard fork in history. The internet is freaking out over how the project is “going after” Satoshi Nakamoto’s original bitcoins. In fact, the project appears to be targeting any accounts that were not active between November 11 and December 12, 2017.
Meanwhile, on the positive side of things, UBTC aims to implement smart contracts, the Lightning Network, and SegWit, all of which lead to faster and cheaper transactions and better scalability.
Ultimately, United Bitcoin (UBTC) may be one of the most important bitcoin hard forks in history. Or, it could be a total non-event. However, it has more industry support (like from Jeff Garzik) than some of the scammy bitcoin hard forks out there – and that means you should pay attention. Stay tuned for more information about United Bitcoin as the project moves forward.