Satoshi’s Vision: The version of Bitcoin (BCH) that won’t sacrifice efficiency for disk space

(Originally posted @ Yours.org)

It is very interesting how some active participants within the crypto-industry view Bitcoin Cash (BCH) so negatively and with so much hatred. I’m sure most of it is because their motives/emotions are compromised due to their alignment and investment in other cryptocurrencies; that would be the most reasonable explanation for their seemingly unfounded aggression. Unfortunately though, because of these motives, they view BCH as a legitimate threat; (rightfully so) and as a result, they do their best to discredit it through slandering, hoping they can influence others into adopting the same beliefs as their own. I have to believe this to be true, and I think it is reasonable to make this conclusion, because you don’t see other cryptocurrencies receiving the same degree of hate that BCH continuously generates. It often makes me to feel very sympathetic towards the well-known and well-intentioned proponents of Bitcoin Cash; having to take this verbal abuse when logically it makes very little sense…

If you took the negativity at face value without understanding what motivates BCH slanderers to act this way, it would be difficult not to think, “What the ****? Why on earth would you not want to see Bitcoin Cash succeed?” You really can’t get behind the vision of enabling larger blocksizes so fees always remain at less than a penny and the network never becomes backlogged? Or the goal of bringing this ultra-efficient payment system to everyone in the world while making it extremely simple to use? Or the objective of adding Ethereum-like applications and other use-cases to make it the most useful cryptocurrency out there? You really can’t get behind that because you’ve deemed the extra disk space needed to do this as more important? Come on…

And that’s essentially what the main argument against Bitcoin Cash boils down to: DISK SPACE. Yes, disk space… Sure, it is indeed a trade-off, but is this trade-off more important than having a transaction system that has no downtime, confirms and settles all transactions almost instantly, and costs less than a penny to use? I think not, and I think the events of 2017 demonstrated this opinion to be true.

Up until 2017, the most legitimate companies within the industry only interacted with Bitcoin. After all, there really wasn’t any good reason to build off of other coins unless you created one yourself. Bitcoin dwarfed all others in terms of value, security, usage, longevity; and for these reasons, the developers and entrepreneurs innovated off of it. The other coins couldn’t compete. Only until Ethereum came into the picture did another coin actually appear capable of challenging Bitcoin’s dominance. The reason being, Ethereum enabled the creation of smart contracts and token coins within its network. This was a first, and consequently, it became the first crypto-coin to offer something of worthwhile differentiating value; but to the surprise of many, its features were something that could have been built using Bitcoin’s own network had leadership circumstances been different during those earlier years.

In a way, the creation of Ethereum and its deviation away from Bitcoin was a prelude to what happened in 2017. Bitcoin’s leadership was determined NOT to raise the blocksize as blocks started filling up, and what happened as a result was quite predictable. Fees rose to amounts as high as $30 per transaction, and at times, it could take a day or two for transactions to confirm. Most businesses stopped accepting Bitcoin for payments (even a Miami Bitcoin conference), and the companies that once only operated in Bitcoin, started to branch off into other coins. They had to “hedge their bet,” and this also could have also been the spark that ignited, fueled, and accelerated the irrational, speculative rally into altcoins and token coins (which we now see deflating).

The once cheap, speedy, and efficient network became a slow, expensive, and inefficient network. The congestion and unpredictable future of Bitcoin forced the entrepreneurs and developers to switch gears and move elsewhere (or work on Lightning). With fees so high, Bitcoin’s only use-cases at the time were to speculate on its value, or to convert it into other coins in order to speculate on their value. During this stint, it may have had high value in dollar terms, but in a way, it became worthless. Bitcoin as a payment system and form of money ceased to exist; real-world usage crawled to a halt; and innovative uses that took advantage of the once ultra-efficient and cheap network, stalled or moved onto other coin’s networks. The deviation away from Bitcoin was predictable, because, if you are an entrepreneurial innovator, you need to know that the foundational characteristics you’re building upon will remain the same well into the future. Bitcoin in 2017 demonstrated to those innovators that its foundation would not be. The characteristics of Bitcoin changed, and they had to adapt accordingly.

This is why you saw nearly every exchange, including Coinbase, add BCH and other crypto trading pairs to their exchanges. It’s why the gaming platform, Steam, announced that they would no longer accept Bitcoin for payments. It’s why the peer-to-peer, formerly Bitcoin-only marketplace, OpenBazaar, felt compelled to add BCH and other cryptocurrencies to facilitate transactions. It’s why the merchant-procuring giant, BitPay, added full BCH support for all of their merchants. It’s why the social media, micropayments website, Yours.org, was forced away from Bitcoin and adopted BCH as their payments rail. It’s why BitTorrent streaming application, Joystream, integrated BCH when they originally began with Bitcoin. It’s why you see the tipping platform, Tippr, utilizing the BCH Blockchain to send “tips” over Twitter and Reddit. It’s why you see innovations such as CoinText adopting BCH to make sending money across the world super easy, using something as readily-available as a text-messaging flip-phone. These examples are precisely why you don’t let the best characteristics of a revolutionary, open-source network get taken for granted. As 2017 demonstrated, when this happens, actual innovation will move elsewhere. It’ll move to a form of money and transaction system that intends on retaining those qualities over the long-term.

And wasn’t becoming the best form of money, paired with the most efficient network, Bitcoin’s main purpose in the first place? This seems to be something that has been forgotten or overlooked, likely because it was foreshadowed by its appeal as an investment. Not many seemed to care about its usability while the price was rising, but now that the price has trended downwards and investment appeal has diminished, perhaps it’s time to reconsider and ask the question: What makes Bitcoin great in the first place? What characteristics does it need to have in order for it to become the best form of money to ever exist — or as Andreas Antonopolous puts it, to become the “Internet of Money?” If Bitcoin is going to fulfill this potential, what would that entail?

The ability to spend and send money globally in the blink of an eye? A network that preserves the efficiency of peer-to-peer, cash-like settlements? The ability for people to be their own bank without relying on a third party or bank? A network where the average person doesn’t need a computer science degree to use? A form of money where the supply is fixed and distributed at a predetermined rate? A network that runs 24/7/365 and has an unchangeable, public ledger? The ability to send money where the cost to do so is less than a penny? A form of money where privacy is preserved? A network where bottlenecks never form and transactions always confirm within 10 minutes? Money that can be spent or secured shortly after it’s been received? Perhaps, a network that can be innovated on top of?

There’s probably many more that could be included in this list; but the point is, when these characteristics are retained, there is nothing that can compete with it. The network essentially rolls all the benefits of the credit card system, gold, and cash into one — while leaving the weaknesses behind — combining together to become the greatest form of money ever known to mankind. At least… It can be… So long as the trade-off of requiring more disk space as the network grows isn’t deemed more important than retaining the qualities that make it so much better than everything else in the first place.

Thankfully, there is a faction of the crypto-community that agrees with this assessment; and that faction had the courage and wisdom to go against the grain on August 1st of last year, when they forked the Bitcoin Blockchain in order to continue building upon Satoshi Nakamoto’s revolutionary invention and vision. They could not be convinced that disk space was more important than a near-perfect transactional system that could serve the entire world under one roof. Nope, not them. For them, the emotional appeal was not convincing enough, nor was the logic logical enough.

For those that could not be persuaded otherwise, thank you for standing strong. Thank you for carrying out Satoshi’s vision, and thank you to those who have chosen to join the community after the fork. The Bitcoin Cash community appreciates your efforts, and the fair-money loving Bitcoin Optimist salutes you. Thanks again for all you do.

- Bitcoin Optimist (at the conference in spirit; looking forward to watching the streams: https://satoshisvisionconference.com)