If you are up on all the Bitcoin juice then you are probably very aware of the most recent fork of the the Bitcoin Core blockchain known as Bitcoin XT. And if you aren’t here’s a little background.

For quite some time there has been a scalability concern surrounding Bitcoin. While many cryptographers and developers are working to address this concern, a few of the Bitcoin Core Developers, have split off with what many are calling an extreme solution to what Bitcoin should be – Bitcoin XT.  Mike Hearn, in an article from CoinDesk, was summarized to have said,

“the project had come about as a result of long-standing frustrations with the consensus-driven governance of Bitcoin Core, which he said has ignored any changes that trigger disagreement – even among those who do not contribute to its code.”

It’s all a Coup! Say’s Who?

With so much debate swirling around the issue, many experts and cryptographers have already taken sides and spoken out about their stance. One of the biggest concerns raised by many experts is de-centralization. It’s theorized that if XT is adopted, and with bigger sized blocks, that big mining companies with large computing power would more or less “edge out” and be able to exclude smaller minors from being able to contribute to transactions in the blockchain. This is what Adam Back, a cryptographer and invetor of hashcash (the proof-of-work system used by Bitcoin) had to say in an interview with Morgan Peck of IEE Sprectrum.

“It should be clear to people from a computer science background that blockchains have some inherent limitation and you can’t expect—in a time when it’s reached maximum adoption, where everybody’s cup of coffee or internet transactions, all of the shares and derivative transactions—these things to all fit on a blockchain. We would be saturating the Internet at that point.

There has to be a balance, right? So, if you want to scale Bitcoin, that’s good. And everybody wants to scale Bitcoin. But you can’t scale Bitcoin by just changing the block size parameters to a gigabyte or something ridiculous. Because, what would happen if you did that now is almost nobody would be able to validate it to receive a transaction. And there would end up being one or a handful of miners in a data center. And at that point you may just as well switch the mining off and sign the transactions and call it PayPal or something.”

XT… Status Report!

XT was officially forked on the 15th of August and will need a 75% adoption rate by Bitcoin nodes. If the day comes that it is ever supported by 75% then the change will fully be in effect.

On the day of the launch 89 nodes were supporting the bigger nodes. Today there are 880 nodes supporting XT. You can keep track of the XT support here.

But what does it all mean?

XT, however rushed many believe it’s conception to be, is genuinely attempting to solve inevitable shortcomings if a widespread adoption of bitcoin were to take place (which should be everyone’s dream). Bitcoin core advocates, considered the purists of the two parties, believe that if adopted, could be the downfall of the cryptocurrency and because it violates so many principles of its existence.  One thing is clear that both sides have agreed upon, that Bitcoin does need to change in order for it to grow. When is that change direly necessary? And is it really possible to fix if this attempt is getting so much push back?   Take a look at the video from Bloomberg.com to hear some more interesting stances on the great debate.

Sources- CoinDesk.com, Bloomberg.com, Xtnodes.com, Spectrum.ieee.org

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