Bitcoin Cash War Escalates: Buterin Enters the Fray

Big changes to Bitcoin Cash are coming, and factions of the community are taking hard-line stances. A controversial change is in the pipeline, and Vitalik Buterin has now attacked one side of the debate:

The Ethereum creator should have little at stake here. What exactly led the Bitcoin Cash war to escalate to this point?

Bitcoin ABC Endorses a Hard Fork

Bitcoin ABC’s software dominates transaction verification in the realm of Bitcoin Cash; its software is used by two-thirds of the altcoin’s full nodes. In July, the company began developing updates to its software that will comply with a controversial hard fork scheduled for mid-November.

This upgrade will introduce two new opcodes and add canonical transaction ordering. According to proponents, these features will make Bitcoin Cash more efficient and better suited to smart contract development. The upgrade will also modify the fee structure in order to allow for much cheaper transactions.

nChain Becomes the Opposition

Meanwhile, Craig Wright, the leader of nChain, is opposing Bitcoin ABC. Wright plans to introduce a new full node implementation called Bitcoin SV that will be incompatible with the upcoming Bitcoin ABC clients. Wright has been pushing a 128 MB block size, which clashes with the November fork’s lower limits:

The changes made by nChain have already gained the support of the mining pool CoinGeek, and Wright is threatening that the mining community will fund other developers if Bitcoin ABC goes ahead with its preferred changes.

Buterin Weighs In

In addition to the personal attack on Wright, Buterin also explained his technical objections to nChain’s changes. Buterin is opposed to nChain’s 128 MB block size, which he contends would be an opportunity for attackers to overload the network, causing it to grind to a halt.

Although Buterin is a big name in the crypto world, his opinion may not hold much sway. Past personal conflicts between Buterin and Wright also account for some of the hostility: “There’s also …the #FakeToshi thing,” Buterin noted, referring to Wright’s claim that he is Bitcoin’s inventor, Satoshi Nakomoto.

That said, Buterin’s views implicitly support Bitcoin ABC, which does have a lot of power.

Who Will Win?

Nevertheless, many oppose the changes that Bitcoin ABC is endorsing, and the hard fork is not the forgone conclusion that Bitcoin ABC implies it is. One Github user notes:

“Since the Bitcoin Cash community has not shown overwhelming support for this specification yet, it should be clearly described as a proposal.”

There are some attempts at a resolution. Bitcoin Unlimited, which currently controls one-third of full nodes, has reached out to representatives of both nChain and Bitcoin ABC to propose a compromise, but has had no success. Time will tell who will win the war.

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