The barely one year old chain-split fork of bitcoin might see its own split as disagreements arise over a planned November upgrade.
BitcoinABC, the most used client of Bitcoin Cash, announced on Monday the November 15th upgrade will include the following:
“A new opcode called OP_CHECKDATASIG that improves the BCH scripting language to permit the validation of messages from outside the blockchain. This will enable uses such as the use of oracles and cross-chain atomic contracts.
The introduction of canonical transaction ordering. This is a technical building block that lays the foundation for massive scaling improvements in the future.
Several minor technical fixes and improvements.”
Calvin Ayre of Coingeek, a miner affiliated with Craig Wright’s nChain, said in an announcement last week:
“We will not support the following changes or commit our hash power to running software that implements them:
2. Canonical transaction ordering (We are committed to investigating the removal of topological ordering as a potential barrier to scaling but this requires more detailed examination).”
Coingeek is currently the biggest BCH miner with 35% of the hashrate over the past three days. They have 37% over the past 24 hours, and 27% over the past month.
Bitmain’s two pools, BTC.com and Antpool, have around 18%. With ViaBTC, it would give them 31%. Add BTC.top and they reach 34%, maybe 35%.
Roger Ver is somewhat affiliated with Ayre and Wright. What his pool, bitcoin.com, will do is unclear.
Rawpool seems to have been founded by someone called David Li. It appears to be based in China and it looks like they’re sort of neutral.
All of it suggesting if it does come down to a split, it might be something like 60%-40%. That’s based on current hashrate. The Chinese miners have a lot more running on bitcoin which they could utilize temporarily if need be.
Tensions appear to have increased recently with Craig Wright apparently invited to a Bitcoin Cash group on WeChat. There, Jihan Wu said the following:
Op_codes are a smart contract like scrypt language that allows limited extended capabilities. One such Op_code is OP_CHECKDATASIGVERIFY. As explained in the proposal:
“OP_DATASIGVERIFY allows a script to validate the signature on arbitrary data using the same ECDSA algorithm (and code) used to validate the signature on Bitcoin transactions.
This opcode therefore enables the use of an external ‘oracle’, which is a very important too to enable external information to be imported into a transaction.”
Wright is against it because, among other things, it prioritizes non-cash transactions over simple bch transfers from A to B.
Another matter in dispute is canonical ordering or lexical ordering. That’s a proposal by Gavin Andresen to reduce the amount of data sent between nodes by making it unnecessary to send the transaction ordering data.
That’s apparently subject to some debate, but it looks like it is purely a technical matter with the only question needing an answer being whether security is affected if the canonical order is implemented. If not, then it does sound like an efficiency gain.
Likewise, for Op_check, it is difficult to see what could be political here. Either it is safe to extend the language capabilities or not.
In addition, Coingeek wants to increase the blocksize limit to 128 MB. How they’ll address the 32MB message limit is unclear, with a lot of work needed to get the network ready to handle bigger than 32MB blocks. The suggestion, however, is that it’s “up to” 128MB.
Meaning it’s a carrot of sorts for their new node client, Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BitcoinSV), which they plan to launch this September with Daniel Connolly being lead developer.
Finally, Peter Rizun of Bitcoin Unlimited has proposed a compromise to try and keep all teams happy. He says:
“Let’s compromise for the November HF for BCH:
– Add nChain’s op codes (if ready)
– Add OP_CHECKDATASIGVERIFY
– Hold off on lexical ordering
– Hold off on OP_GROUP
– Implement BIP101 with no cap (a permanent solution instead of forking to 128 MB).”
BIP101 is a doubling of the blocksize limit ever two years up to 8GB in around 20 years. Some say that’s not quick enough, with suggestions being the parameters can be changed to increase the limit more quickly.
The idea here is basically no limit as miners use a soft limit in any event, so miners can gradually increase the actual blocksize in line with demand.
So there is a lot going on, but what is really going on? Well, it looks like there is a lot of discussion about things that shouldn’t really be up for debate.
Sometimes there are tradeoffs, and tradeoffs need considerable discussion and in exceptional circumstances even public debate. Often, however, there are only technical questions with somewhat objective answers that aren’t easily up for debate.
It looks like much of these discussions are of a latter sort, so it appears things are being picked on with the aim of potentially justifying a chain-split.
BitcoinSV, perhaps under the ticker of BSV, might give some popcorn time when it launches as Wright can be quite effective at utilizing social media, but it is difficult to see BitPay adding it, Bitfinex or Bitstamp, or really any reputable exchange.
Is it then a bluff, a last attempt to be relevant, or does he think he has sufficient voice in BCH to influence and perhaps even direct its course?
Coingeek’s hashrate is a big card, another one is Roger Ver. The latter controls r/btc and has done quite a bit for BCH. He is however constrained by what we’ll call objectivity.
Where miners are concerned, the changes are a hard-fork, which means there would be a chain-split. In that situation however the question would be which one is the minority chain, and thus has to implement replay protection.
It is exchanges here that usually are kingmakers in these sort of situations. Would any of them trust a Craig Wright chain? It would be open source, of course, but who exactly is keeping an eye on that code?
Which means either it is a bluff (unlikely as he’ll have to keep to Satoshi script as he imagines it), or that he thinks he can take over BCH somehow (also unlikely as he’s probably sufficiently self-aware to know he can’t) or that he just wants his own coin where he can claim it is the true bitcoin that follows Satoshi’s vision and so on and can keep implying he is Satoshi etc.
The latter is the most logical conclusion as far as we can see. If we are right, then it would probably be for the better.
In the meantime, there might be some noise, perhaps getting louder as the fork nears, but thereafter it might make things a bit easier for BCH as they might have less tension to follow their roadmap.
Until that thereafter, however, they do well to play their many cards right because they might be facing some challenging few weeks/months.