The most contentious hard fork in bitcoin cash’s one-year history is happening Thursday.
So contentious, in fact, that this one holds the potential to split the blockchain into two separate iterations of the bitcoin cash protocol – one led by developer group Bitcoin ABC and the other, Bitcoin SV, led by blockchain research company nChain.
The process itself is expected to begin at 16:40 UTC on November 15 – though whether one dominant chain will emerge will be determined in the hours that follow.
As such, cryptocurrency observers and stakeholders worldwide are lining up to watch the looming bitcoin cash hard fork, a process that will play out as miners aim their hashing power at one chain or another, as node operators update their software, and as investors and traders decide which coins to hold (and which to potentially sell).
Still, there’s a lot up in the air at this point – which implementation the majority of users will support, which implementation the majority of miners will support and whether or not the main proponents of Bitcoin SV will act on threats to attack the opposing chain
With the situation still very much in flux, here’s a guide for how to watch the action unfold.
In all likelihood, a good portion of the cryptocurrency community will be watching and live-tweeting how events unfold in the coming days.
If commentary leading up to the bitcoin cash hard fork is any indication, the following individuals are likely to continue offering their insights as the situation unravels:
- Roger Ver (@rogerkver) – bitcoin angel investor since 2012 and early bitcoin cash proponent
- Amaury Séchet (@deadalnix) – lead developer for Bitcoin ABC
- Ryan X Charles (@ryanxcharles) – CEO of online payments tool Money Button
- Chris Pacia (@ChrisPacia) – lead developer for e-commerce platform OpenBazaar
- Jihan Wu (@JihanWu) – co-founder of crypto mining giant Bitmain
- Craig Wright (@ProfFaustus) – chief scientist of blockchain research and development firm nChain
- Jimmy Nguyen (@JimmyWinMedia) – nChain CEO
- Calvin Ayre (@CalvinAyre) – founder of cryptocurrency media publication and mining pool CoinGeek
- Cobra (@CobraBitcoin) – co-owner of bitcoin information site bitcoin.org and discussion forum bitcointalk.org
- Eli Afram (@justicemate) – writer for crypto news publication CoinGeek and founder of Bitcoin Cash Australia
- Marcel Pechman (@noshitcoins) – founder of RadarBTC, a Brazilian site that provides cryptocurrency analysis and commentary for traders in Portuguese
- Peter Rizun (@PeterRizun) – chief scientist for Bitcoin Unlimited
- Alistair Milne (@alistairmilne) – co-founder of cryptocurrency investment firm Altan Digital Currency Fund
In addition, it’s worth highlighting the equally popular social media platform, Reddit. The main channel to watch for bitcoin cash-related developments is /r/btc.
Onlookers will also need some way of affirming that the hard fork has actually been executed.
One platform, Fork Monitor, will alert users once the hard fork goes live on the bitcoin cash blockchain.
Once the hard fork is executed, Fork Monitor’s sponsor, BitMex, stated that the exchange will feature settled prices for the Bitcoin ABC compatible blockchain and exclude “the value of Bitcoin SV.”
Other exchanges haven’t been so quick to take sides, especially given the ongoing threats of chain sabotage that may result in a prolonged struggle between the two bitcoin cash networks.
Yet, many are hoping that a clear winner will be undeniable.
“If there’s a split with an ambiguous, unclear winner where one side is slightly ahead of the other, that’s a really bad situation because … it creates tremendous confusion for people,” Ryan X. Charles, CEO of Money Button, told CoinDesk, adding:
“Bitcoin cash is already difficult enough to understand. The split would be a problem.”
Who’s got the nodes?
Finally, the progression of the hard fork once implemented can be gauged by watching the numerical estimates of node distribution.
CashNode indicates the proportional and geographical spread of computer servers running Bitcoin ABC software and Bitcoin SV software, among other compatible bitcoin cash implementations such as Bitcoin Unlimited.
Similarly, data tracking site Coin Dance also relays information about what nodes are operating on the blockchain. Among other details, the site displays which implementations are being used both at present and historically.
All of these platforms will provide useful insight into the bitcoin cash debate both before, during and after, which according to some, such as Bitcoin Unlimited chief scientist Peter Rizun, isn’t just a technical debate but a “political battle.”
“I see this fork more as a social or political battle playing out but it’s disguised as a technical debate,” he told CoinDesk.
Hours After Bitcoin Cash Network Update Begins, Bitcoin ABC Over 10 Blocks Ahead
The Bitcoin Cash (BCH) network update, which many predicted would lead to a hard fork, began as scheduled today, Nov. 15.
At press time, Bitcoin ABC and Bitcoin Unlimited are currently leading Bitcoin SV in terms of both hash rate and number of nodes, according to Coin.Dance. Under the new consensus rules, 41 blocks have been already mined, wherein Bitcoin ABC is 12 blocks ahead.
The news about the protocol upgrade has divided the BCH community in two camps as there are two dominating proposals for the implementation of the BCH network in the form of Bitcoin ABC and Bitcoin SV (Satoshi’s Vision).
Bitcoin ABC stands for “Adjustable Blocksize Cap”, and its proponents argue that the basic structure of BCH is “sound,” and “does not need any radical change”. Proposed changes include “removing software bottlenecks” and enabling node operators to change their block size limit.
Bitcoin ABC is supported by crypto evangelist Roger Ver, while Bitcoin SV supporters are led by Craig Wright, who has previously declared himself to be the mysterious Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto. The SV camp promotes radically changing the current BCH structure, where its split is designed to entirely overwrite the network scripts of Bitcoin ABC and increase the BCH block size from 32MB to a maximum of 128MB.
The issue of a BCH upgrade caused a heated dispute in the community; Wright engaged in verbal battles with Bitmain’s co-founder Jihan Wu, who accused Wright of being a Blockstream spy. Wright’s messages to ABC, Roger Ver, and Bitmain have turned into bankruptcy threats and accusations of being engaged in Silicon Road machinations and child pornography.
A continued feud between the crypto communities would have a significant impact on the crypto market in general, while a split caused by a hard fork will affect the entire network.