Coinbase announced yesterday they will call the current bitcoin blockchain as bitcoin with a BTC ticker after the segwit2x fork, regardless of its level of hashrate support.
They do not give any reason for their decision, but it so being bitcoin’s biggest company with some 10 million customers, the labeling may have quite some influence. Especially if others follow.
However, miners continue to show some 85% support for segwit2x, so it is unclear whether there will actually be a minority chain without protocol level modifications or whether it can survive with just 15% of the current hashrate.
It is miners alone that create blocks and process transactions, with other nodes verifying the process. As such, with 15% of the hashrate, blocks on the minority chain will be very rare, averaging around 1 every two hours, but with variance it may be even a whole day without blocks.
It’s unclear how the market would react to that situation considering that at least for Coinbase this would be bitcoin itself so operating on very rare blocks.
The market might decide it is all temporary and that the network will be back in good order in no time. In which case, although BTC’s price might dive slightly, it may hold significant superiority.
No one can quite predict the future and past events aren’t necessarily predictive either, but if segwit2x behaves as we have seen in previous forks, then it may reach a brief high of $2,700.
That was its opening price on futures markets. Bitcoin Cash followed it quite closely once it launched in August. Segwit2x might do too.
Bitcoin’s price, as labeled by Coinbase, may retain $4,000 or so, thus we may have a new combined all-time high, but the two should then within hours diverge, establishing a clear winner, as far as market price is concerned.
Miners, at this point, are spectator-actors. If, that is, we ignore their potential participation and merger in the market price action as a whole.
As far as hash-rate is concerned, it will probably, perhaps even algorithmically, be distributed between the two chains based on their price action.
As such, the situation will probably be resolved within hours, and although vocally there may be all sorts of claims, it will likely be fairly straight-forward to objectively conclude just what the entire bitcoin ecosystem, in a very free market way, has decided.
The process, however, may be chaotic if facts remain as they are. Because although labeling may have influence, the hashrate does too since it actually runs the network.
With very rare blocks, BTC would probably grind to a halt, which may affect its price, but also miners. So now all eyes turn on them, with many wondering if bitcoin can really find itself in a situation where exchanges call the minority chain as BTC.
Arguably, they are following the futures market, so arguably it is the users or traders that are deciding. In which case, it is likely miners will also follow the market, not least because they are primarily profit motivated as we have seen previously.
That means bitcoin may continue operating at a very limited on-chain capacity, so bringing back, after the fork wars, that two horse race: ETH v BTC.