The North American Bitcoin Conference had a number of great guests this year in Miami. As with most Bitcoin conferences, there was a strong Bitcoin.com presence, the main supporter of Bitcoin Cash.
A representative for Bitcoin.com took the stage to tell us all about the benefits of Bitcoin Cash and then informed us that they would be giving away “free money” to everyone in the audience. If we would just reach under our chairs we would find a handout that had a scratch-off QR code. This QR code was to a private key to a paper wallet that held a few dollars in Bitcoin Cash, but potentially up to $500!
Like most people in the audience, I reached down to grab my handout and started scratching it off out of curiosity. As the speaker finished his talk, I download their wallet app, scanned the paper wallet and swept all of the funds. Expecting to see a couple dollars, I was shocked to see the wallet balance say $509. What should have been a moment of euphoria and excitement, actually turned into one of the most frustrating experiences with cryptocurrency I have ever had, and I have sent countless cryptocurrency transactions.
Not one to blindly trust a sudden windfall from a pamphlet under a chair, I made a small test transaction to my main wallet. I sent about $20 to make sure everything was working properly.
Thirty minutes later I had not so much as received a single confirmation. Okay, well maybe my fee just wasn’t high enough and miners aren’t picking it up. Doesn’t Bitcoin Cash advertise fast and nearly free transactions? I found the setting in the wallet that allowed me to raise my fee from “normal” to “urgent,” this was the maximum fee I could pay via this wallet. Let’s try again.
I sent a $3 transaction with the high fee category. Ten minutes later, no confirmations and no confirmations on my first transaction.
Alright, maybe I had an error with my address. I refreshed my address in the receiving wallet and sent to the new address. Two transactions of $3. Still no confirmations on any of the transactions.
At this point about an hour had passed, and I had sent 4 transactions, none of which had even received a single confirmation. Frustration replaced my excitement. The conference was ending, and I resigned to waiting to see if the network would eventually process my transactions.
I started doing a little more research at this point and saw that at times the last block was posted 20 minutes ago and the network was still waiting on a new block. There should be a block about every 10 minutes. I also discovered the hashrate had been worse than cut in half due to the debacle with Bitcoin SV.
Bitcoin Cash had branded itself as the fast and cheap alternative to Bitcoin, yet my experience with it was anything but that.
The transactions did finally confirm and settle — five hours from when I sent the first transaction. Now, we can’t know exactly why this happened. The problem may have been on the wallet side. The wallet was the official Bitcoin.com wallet, so regardless of whether this was an issue with the wallet or the Bitcoin Cash blockchain, it reflected extremely poorly on Bitcoin.com and Bitcoin Cash.
The entire presentation was about how Bitcoin Cash is a fast alternative to cash (and Bitcoin) and that it should be used as such, yet when I actually attempted to use the network for what was practically the first time I was wishing I just had Bitcoin to send.
Ultimately I concluded that the Bitcoin Cash network appears to have truly suffered some damage due to the Bitcoin SV fork. If you examine the Bitcoin Cash hash power from before the fork to Dec. 15, it lost 80 percent of its previous hashing power. If you measure from its peak November hash power, it dropped from 8095 PH/s to 980 PH/s by December.
The network may be having trouble adjusting to the correct difficulty rate due to the volatility in the hashrate, or it could be suffering from something else that is harder to identify. I observed true abnormalities in the blocktime and the inability for nodes to confirm transactions that had been broadcasted for hours.
So, clearly, Bitcoin Cash has suffered a blow from the Bitcoin SV fork. The lack of cohesion in the community has gotten in the way of achieving the goal of the network, fast and cheap cash. The network has suffered on functionality and security levels due to the fork. Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV have similar hashing power now, so there does not appear to be a true winner from a hash power perspective. This is dangerous to both chains and leaves both of them vulnerable to further discord.
The legacy of Bitcoin Cash is one of forking off, and it is no surprise its legacy produced another fork. The fact that the Bitcoin SV fork occurred indicates that both Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV are vulnerable to additional forks. As long as factions within a community continue to fork off and achieve some sort of gain, it sets the stage for it to happen again… and again.
It seems the most important thing to do for either of these chains is to build a community identity that is greater than merely existing in opposition to another vision. Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV mainly have defined their communities as “Not Bitcoin” or “Not Bitcoin Cash.” They are those that opposed the community created around other visions but only build community cohesion through dissent with a more established community.