Bitcoin divides to rule

COMPARED with Brexit, Bitexit seems a piece of cake. On August 1st, without much agonising or awkward negotiation, a group of Bitcoin activists and entrepreneurs managed to create a second version of the crypto-currency. It immediately gained a following: in less than a day of existence, the value of a unit of “Bitcoin Cash” jumped to over $600, and tokens worth more than $10bn were in circulation (although that is still much smaller than Bitcoin classic, which stood at about $2,700 and nearly $45bn).

This “fork”, as such events are called, came earlier than foreseen. But it is broadly how insiders had expected a two-year-old conflict over the future of Bitcoin to end. At the heart of this “civil war” was the question of how to increase the capacity of the system, which can only handle up to seven transactions per second. The new version is able to process 56 per second, but otherwise works much like the original one.

Will Bitcoin Cash be more than just another “altcoin”, as the many existing clones of the crypto-currency are called? It is backed by Chinese “miners”, firms that provide the computing power to confirm payments and mint new digital coins. They have been unhappy with how the original system has been managed by its developers—and made some further technical tweaks to ensure that the new Bitcoin survives. The followers of…Continue reading

This post was originally published in the Economist.

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Bitcoin divides to rule

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