by Joseph Young
In late January, developers, CEOs, investors, early adopters and influencers of Bitcoin and blockchain technology met at a private resort in Mexico with the absence of media members or partners to freely discuss issues and topics frequently brought up within the Bitcoin community.
Representatives from the bitcoin industry, mining and development communities came together at the invite-only event organized annually by Atlantic Financial Chief Investment Officer, Bruce Fenton. Some of the attendees including BitGo engineer Jameson Lopp and OB1 (OpenBazaar) CEO Brian Hoffman shared their experiences attending the Satoshi Roundtable 2017 and some of the discussions at the event.
As always, the scaling debate took control over the event, as Lopp explained. Most of the attendees unanimously agreed that Segregated Witness (SegWit) was necessary and ultimately beneficial for the bitcoin network, due to the scaling solution it provides and its ability to eliminate transaction malleability which thus opens the door for two-layer solutions like TumbleBit and Lightning.
While the majority agreed on the activation of SegWit, Lopp stated that there were a few members at the event who still were in support for block size increase and the execution of a hard fork. These individuals were corporate members and represented the interests of large-scale companies. Lopp noted that corporate representatives wanted to see short-term growth and change in Bitcoin.
“One point that was abundantly clear: within Roundtable participants there was nearly unanimous consensus that Segregated Witness is a beneficial feature for the Bitcoin protocol. However, it was noted that those in favor of large legacy blocks tend to be enterprises that want to see more near-term growth. Many of these enterprises that voiced such opinions in 2016 did not return to the Roundtable in 2017,” said Lopp.
Corporate members who expressed their optimism toward a hard fork execution to increase block size referred to the network split of Ethereum, claiming that the network split turned out positive for Ethereum as the joint market cap of Ethereum and Ethereum Classic is nearly $1.2 billion.
Lopp also noted that miners were underrepresented at the event, as they seem to have mixed feelings in regards to SegWit or any other Bitcoin solutions including the hard fork. Chinese miners especially have difficulty in following chaotic conversations and discussions on various solutions, which eventually split up the community into two: Core and Bitcoin Unlimited supporters.
“Miners were also underrepresented at the Roundtable, and much of the information about their stances was contributed via intermediaries. My takeaway is that Chinese miners seem ambivalent to supporting SegWit or Emergent Consensus,” said Lopp.
OB1 CEO Brian Hoffman, however, expressed his disappointment at the fact that key players within the Bitcoin industry declined to participate at the event. Even if these individuals carry out discussions and conversations in online Bitcoin communities and platforms on a daily basis, they feel uncomfortable confronting contradicting ideologies and claims.
Hoffman noted that apart from scaling issues, many topics were addressed including the necessity of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), a method used by blockchain startups and institutions to obtain funds by selling its initial share of tokens, and financial privacy.
Monero lead developer and active advocate of financial privacy attended the event to discuss the importance of financial privacy for both day-to-day and casual users.
Conclusively, Hoffman also stated that 99 percent of the participants agreed SegWit must be activated and adopted. That is 99 percent of miners, Bitcoin industry leaders, and developers that represent the Bitcoin community and industry.
“99 percent of the people in the room agreed that SegWit was a good thing and should be activated. It truly seems like it’s a people problem keeping consensus from evolving. SegWit is a complex addition to Bitcoin, and we’re all learning that for good or bad there are several perspectives on what Bitcoin is exactly,” said Hoffman.
Going forward, discussions and agreements established at the Satoshi Roundtable event will help developers, miners and companies solidify their stance on SegWit and other scaling solutions.