My take on the Bitcoin Cash split in November

Background

After the BTC/BCH split in August 2017, I thought the people involved with Bitcoin Cash were united in wanting to follow the original vision of Satoshi Nakamoto and that we would gradually see the blocksize limit increased until it was completely removed. I was wrong. Not everyone wanted to follow that path. We managed to successfully stay together through 2 hardforks/upgrades in November 2017 (difficulty adjustment changes to make bitcoin cash’s difficulty more stable) and May 2018 (blocksize limit increased from 8 to 32 MB and some basic Bitcoin script op codes were added or reactivated), but then disagreement between the Lead Developer of Bitcoin ABC, Amaury S├ęchet and Chief Scientist of nChain, Dr. Craig Wright grew too big. This led to a new full node implementation of Bitcoin Cash from nChain called Bitcoin SV (Satoshi’s Vision).

The battle

Bitcoin ABC wanted to stay with the 32 MB blocksize limit and implement something called CTOR (Canonical Transaction Ordering) which is about changing the protocol from ordering transactions chronologically in each block to “alphabetically” which team ABC say will eventually help scaling the network. There was also introduction of a new opcode called OP_CHECKDATASIG.

The philosophy behind Bitcoin SV is that the protocol works as it is, and should be kept unchanged/stable because it is more attractive for businesses to build on top of a solid ground which doesn’t keep changing. The Bitcoin SV team wanted to lift the maximum blocksize limit of Bitcoin Cash to 128 MB to allow for more transactions. In addition, nChain considered the new OP_CHECKDATASIG opcode unnecessary and a tool for circumventing law and facilitating crime. NChain doesn’t want to go that route. Teams/miners using Bitcoin ABC and Bitcoin SV respectively both tried to upgrade the Bitcoin Cash network in a hardfork scheduled for November 15. Normally, miners follow the longest chain, so a reasonable expectation was that one party would (quickly) get in front and the other party would “surrender” and join the longest chain. However, that didn’t happen. The ABC camp got an early lead in the hash battle despite the fact that the Bitcoin SV team had a clear majority of the hash power leading up to November 15. This strange outcome was because team ABC rented a lot of additional hashpower just for this hash battle. Instead of surrendering, team SV decided to try to win the hash battle over a prolonged period of time because they considered that team ABC couldn’t afford to mine with huge losses over a longer period. This battle continued for over a week until one of the main supporters of Bitcoin SV, Coingeek, decided to call of the hash war and just continue with two chains because the ABC team had created and switched to new software which prevented a so-called reorg going back more than 10 blocks. The checkpoints implemented by ABC had effectively prevented that the two chains could reunite again under the rules of the Bitcoin SV software.

Transaction replay and coin splitting

Similar to the BTC/BCH split, users will have the same amount of two coins after the split, so if you had 1 BCH before the BCH/BSV split you now have 1 BCH and 1 BSV. A difference compared to the split in 2017 is that the Bitcoin SV software is/was not designed to create a permanent split of the Bitcoin Cash blockchain, so now the two blockchains (BSV and BCH) are only partly independent. If someone sends a BSV or BCH transaction with money which are from prior to the split in November, the transaction is also valid on the other chain. That can lead to unintended BSV or BCH transactions which of course is a mess. And because neither the Bitcoin SV camp nor the Bitcoin Cash camp seems to want to fix the situation, it is up to each user to split his coins to prevent unintended transactions. The software from Electrumsv.io can split your coins relatively easy by giving you a tiny bit of post-split BSV which is then sent with parts of (all of your existing UTXO‘s, I think. I am not super technical) your existing BSV to a fresh address in the same BSV wallet in a manner which makes your BCH and BSV independent. This transaction cannot be replayed on Bitcoin Cash because it includes some invalid input, the tiny BSV donation from ElectrumSV. The Bitcoin SV team has written a guide describing how to split BCH and BSV coins. The guide assumes you had your BCH in the Electron Cash wallet on the same computer. If that is not the case you can instead recover your funds by importing the backup seed (typically 12 or 24 English words) your existing BCH wallet uses. If your wallet developers have chosen to follow the BSV chain (like Handcash or Centbee), you will also need to import your seed into a BCH wallet (fx https://wallet.bitcoin.com/ ). If you have questions about splitting your BCH and BSV coins, feel free to contact me.

Which bitcoin flavor to support now, BSV and/or BCH?

I am clearly in favor of BSV for the following reasons:

The checkpoint system Bitcoin ABC implemented during the hashwar is equivalent to two people competing in an endurance run lasting until one gives up, and then one party decides to sprint and declare himself victor after getting ahead by a certain distance. Bitcoin ABC are lead by people who cheated in that way. That is bad style and anti-competitive behavior. Bitcoin works because of competition between miners, so breaking that principle is not acceptable.

Bitcoin (SV) can scale with bigger blocks contrary to what some influential proponents of Bitcoin ABC have said. This was proved already during the hashwar when Bitcoin SV mined a 64 MB block and it was proved again on the 10 year anniversary of The Times’ article which was mentioned in Bitcoin’s genesis block when the Chinese mining pool Mempool celebrated the day by mining a 103 MB block. After some extra performance optimizations in Bitcoin SV version 0.1.1 released on February 11, the BSV network produced several blocks just below the present 128 MB limit during the last days of March.

Bitcoin SV is most like the original Bitcoin and that model still hasn’t been tried on a large scale even though it has worked very well on a small scale. If it works, don’t fix it!

The team working on Bitcoin SV is improving the node software so much (without changing the protocol) that they plan to lift the blocksize cap completely in the so-called Genesis upgrade planned for february 4 2020.

Most of the people behind interesting Bitcoin Cash projects have decided to switch to Bitcoin SV. For example the mobile wallet Handcash which supports NFC, the mobile wallet CentBee which lets you easily send payments to your contacts without first asking for an address to send to, the Moneybutton which allows an easy payment method integrated into any website. Each of these three teams are working on related services like cashport and POP! from Handcash, software enabling integration with large retailers’ existing payment solutions from Centbee, and the blogging platform yours.org created by the Moneybutton team. Another very important person is _unwriter who presents himself here and explains why he chose BSV in an article on yours.org. _unwriter is an infrastructure developer. He/she/it creates low level tech which others can build on top of.
Bitstocks, which was working on a banking-like experience on Bitcoin Cash, has also decided that Bitcoin SV is the future for their project.

I believe the argument that protocol stability will bring more businesses to use and build on top of bitcoin is correct. We are already seeing this. Many new initiatives have been built on top of BSV since the BSV/BCH split.
https://www.bsvdevs.com/index.php maintains an updated list.

Transaction fees are consistently lower on BSV than what they are on BCH. Fresh numbers can be seen on https://sv.coin.dance/blocks and https://cash.coin.dance/blocks respectively. It makes more sense for users and businesses to be on a platform with low transaction fees.

Craig Wright, who I have long believed to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin, and who is now working as the Chief Scientist of nChain, has patented a lot of inventions he intend to be used on top of Bitcoin, and by Bitcoin he now means Bitcoin SV. These inventions will allow better security and more applications like for example technology enabling creators to sell their digital creations (think smart e-books for example) directly from the blockchain without illegal copying. A platform with better security and more applications is more attractive for businesses and users. Craig’s ideas and thoughts can be followed on https://medium.com/@craig_10243.