by Nuno Menezes
The controversial Bitcoin scaling debate has given rise to new versions of bitcoin which were the outcome of blockchain splits. These splits mainly occurred because there was a lot of divergence between core developers. Although this is an old debate, these splits only happened in these recent months.
Lately, we’ve seen various Bitcoin forks emerge, with Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold serving as the best well-known examples. While many within the community see this as a threat, many others believe these splits could shape the future of the cryptocurrency.
Basically, there are two visions for what is believed to be the path of Bitcoin. There are the ‘puritans,’ who believe that the protocol must be secured with nothing no less than minor changes to confront scalability while others see it as the ‘T-model’ of the cryptocurrency technology industry. The first argues that these forks undermine the overall strength of the cryptocurrency by fracturing its usage. The others want to ensure that Bitcoin’s stability can keep going forward.
In an interview with Inverse, Karthik Iyer, India’s ambassador to the P2P Foundation points out to this behavior to be very similar to what the modus operandi of the Linux or the Android operating systems in which developers working for different producers can produce their own take on the OS. If they introduce changes that are particularly well received, these changes are implemented in the core edition.
Karthik Iyer stated:
“These different forks will have a life of their own; they will compete. A thousand flowers will bloom, and whichever system is efficient… I think it will take over.”
Much like what happens with the Linux or the Android OS each Bitcoin fork introduces its own features to the established formula. While Bitcoin Cash increases the block size by eight times, allowing for faster transactions, Bitcoin Gold uses an algorithm which is ASIC resistant in an effort to make the currency more equal to everyone.
Different forks may come with their own specific features for a certain type of audience. There is even the chance that one of these forks might one day become more popular and surpass Bitcoin. Forks like Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold could play a key role in shaping the cryptocurrency, but it remains to be seen whether they’ll manage to carve out a niche. Iyer also said, “[Bitcoin] was founded to redistribute value, move money away from bankers and financial institutions to people. Anyone could become a bank, payment service, lender. It is the greatest redistribution of value in human history.”
The price of bitcoin has gone far beyond any expectation in 2017 with its value breaking the $6,000 mark in October and then exceeding $8,000 at the time of writing.
Now, there is a lot of speculation in what concerns to what is going to happen with the price. Opinion are divided between consolidation or progression. Recently, a high-ranking analyst at Goldman Sachs projected that bitcoin would consolidate at around $8,000 before rising even further. But some experts, such as Fundstrat’s Tom Lee, believe that the cryptocurrency could climb as high as $25,000 in years to come.
Bitcoin is thriving that is for sure. But all these forks might also weaken the currency as other cryptoassets such as Ethereum and Monero are already in a fierce competition with Bitcoin.