The combined market price for Bitcoin Core (BCC) and Bitcoin Unlimited (BTU) is currently higher than the market price of an unsplit bitcoin, according to data from Bitfinex Futures.
BCC by itself trades at $2,394, while BTU trades at $250, giving it a combined market price of $2,644. Meanwhile, plain bitcoin is trading at around $2,350 on Bitfinex at the time of writing.
The data largely reflects the market price of the two ethereum coins when it chain-split last summer.
Shortly after, the combined price of ETH and ETC was higher than the price of plain ethereum at any time before the split.
Since then, ETC by itself has at times attracted a higher price than ethereum ever had before the split. While ETH went on to make astonishing gains of some 20x, rising to an all time high of $420 from around $25 before the split.
All ethereum holders were given by the network an equal amount of ETH and ETC. Likewise, all bitcoin holders would automatically be given an equal amount of BCC and BTU, with both pairs likely tradable in all exchanges that currently trade BTC.
A chain-split, however, appears unlikely for bitcoin as its difficulty and mining algorithm is different to ethereum’s, which means the minority chain would struggle to find a block for months.
The Proof of Work (PoW) algorithm, therefore, would need to be changed for BTU to split. Otherwise, they’d be dragged by Bitcoin Core into enforcing segwit through a soft-fork, despite wide objection in BTU, mainly because it makes future on-chain scalability that much more difficult.
Another way they could split is if 40% of the current miners that are on BTU continue to stay on it, but that appears very unlikely as they have agreed to enforce segwit starting in around one week.
As such, despite the market seemingly valuing two chains more than one, a choice may nonetheless not be provided to it. Which might be a mistake because the significant contingent that strongly supports on-chain scalability might move to eth in droves as they would be given no other option whatever.
Moreover, considering the deep divisions in bitcoin, divisions that extend to all levels, if the two sides don’t go their own way they might continue bickering with no end in sight, significantly slowing down bitcoin’s ability to move forward.
A chain-spilt, therefore, might be best, if the market is telling us anything. It worked very well for ethereum. It might work for bitcoin too, freeing the two sides to focus on their own project and compete in the open market or serve their own niche.
Otherwise, a substantial part of bitcoin’s ecosystem is being coerced against their will to follow a trajectory they deeply disagree with, which can’t be any good for bitcoin.
Not least because the two sides deeply dislike each other, with the community already split in many ways. Furthermore, there have been no efforts at any reconciliation, nor do any such efforts appear likely at this stage. So they might as well just go their own way.