Bitcoin Cash Controversy: A draft paper on blockchain technology released by the National Institute of Standards and Technology is receiving a good deal of backlash from bitcoin enthusiasts today after claiming that Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is actually the original bitcoin.
The paper, which is the product of official research by U.S. scientists, enters controversial territory in section 8.1.2 where it discusses Bitcoin Cash (which it abbreviates to BCC rather than the accepted BCH, though everyone seems too angry to have noticed this particular mistake). Here is the offending comment: “Technically, Bitcoin is a fork and Bitcoin Cash is the original blockchain.”
What’s so bad about that?
This sentence has likely triggered one of three reactions from you:
- Anger (“How dare they write that!”)
- Acceptance (“Well yeah, obviously.”)
- Confusion (“What does that even mean?”)
If you’re the latter, don’t worry; probably 99% of the world’s population is as well. In very basic terms, the ‘fork’ that the paper is referring to is an event back in July 2017 when a majority of bitcoin users voted for a change in bitcoin’s protocol. The ‘change’ in question, basically, made it so that less data had to be verified every time a transaction was made and is called SegWit. There were pros and cons to leaving bitcoin alone or changing the protocol, but that argument is for another time. What we can all agree on is that the fork occurred. It is called a fork because the vote caused bitcoin to split in two like a fork in the road. One version of bitcoin carried on like it always did, and the other version carried on as the ‘updated’ version. This is where the arguments begin…
Bitcoin users argue that Bitcoin Cash – not Bitcoin – was created following the SegWit fork, therefore bitcoin is the original. Meanwhile, those on the Bitcoin Cash side claim that their version of the currency split off separately and is actually closer to the originally intended model. So while the paper’s assertion that Bitcoin Cash is ‘original’ may seem like a simple matter of chronology, it’s turned into a lot more than that.
Meanwhile, proponents of either side claim that the other is spreading malicious propaganda and marketing techniques for their own coin. In addition, media bias and insider trading on Coinbase’s GDAX exchange have marred the discussions. Comments on related articles speak for themselves. Among them: “That’s BS, BCH forked off BTC. Oh by the way, this site, is owned by Bitcoin Cash investors.” “Poor attempt to promote a coin via propaganda,” says another.
At this point, it’s worth remembering that the paper is a draft. It also explicitly claims that it is open to public comment until February 23rd, so enough backlash may change the paper’s contents if a valid argument is put forward. One Reddit user even claims that they wrote to the paper’s authors to complain about the statement, and received this reply which appears to retract the comment. Unfortunately, it is a copy-paste job, so no-one can prove that he/she actually received this reply or just typed it out.
It will be interesting to see what happens to the final draft of the paper once all of this crypto-infighting is considered. Though you can be sure that the result won’t please everyone. (And no, we are not sponsored by either BTC or BCH…)
Featured image: Federal Times