Puzzling out Upcoming Hard Forks

Major bitcoin hard forks of December - Crypto-Santa is here!

One may think of a hard fork as a possible permanent divergence of a blockchain that might result in splitting a chain into two, thus producing an extra new coin for every existing coin. We have broken hard forks down in our previous publication, so you can refer there to get more information and also learn about a Bitcoin hard forks, which had already changed the blockchain, and one – SegWit2x – that never happened, for better or worse – we’ll never know.
The organizers of the SegWit2x hard fork unexpectedly decided to suspend their plans. In an email, Mike Belshe, the CEO and co-founder of BitGo, explained the decision not to move forward. “Unfortunately, it is clear that we have not built sufficient consensus for a clean block size upgrade at this time. Continuing on the current path could divide the community and be a setback to Bitcoin’s growth. This was never the goal of SegWit2x.” In other words, in order to keep the community together, SegWit2x backers have decided to call off the fork.

It seems, however, that Bitcoin enthusiasts just won’t sit still – six more bitcoin forks were planned to happen in December 2017 and January 2018. They are Super Bitcoin, Bitcoin Platinum, Bitcoin Cash Plus, Bitcoin Silver, Bitcoin Uranium, and Bitcoin God. However, one of the expected forks have already turned to be nothing but a scam, namely, Bitcoin Platinum. The Bitcoin Platinum creator had claimed earlier this month that a hard fork of the Bitcoin protocol should be set about by developers, miners, Bitcoin users and investors, when the block reaches the block size of 498577. However, no information about developers, supporters, miners or investors had been revealed. At last, crypto experts concluded that all that scheme was invented to bring down the price of Bitcoin. On December 11, South Korean media confirmed that suspicion and announced that Bitcoin Platinum was developed by a South Korean teenager, who just wished to tamper with the growth surge of this much sought after cryptocurrency. Subsequently the teenager apologized to the general public. He was quoted as saying that, “Please forgive me. Bitcoin Platinum is a scam coin. I created the project to earn five mln Korean won ($4,590).”

Hopefully, other projects would not disappoint the backers. We will briefly describe some of the remaining bitcoin forks and then discuss possible consequences.

Super Bitcoin

Super Bitcoin is a Chinese project seeking to optimize Bitcoin through measures such as Lightning Network and an 8 MB block size. It seems like a friendly fork, as the developers have not mentioned explicitly that they want to compete with BTC, but they are surely doing it to make the new version a lot better than BTC. The fork is happening to “Make Bitcoin Great Again” as they have stated on their official website. Super Bitcoin aims to achieve this by implementing four core features into the Super Bitcoin’s blockchain: smart contracts, faster transactions (Lightning Network), opportunity to hide wallet address when performing transactions and bigger block size. The fork happened on December 12.

Bitcoin Cash Plus

Bitcoin Cash Plus promises to bring sound money to the world, fulfilling the original promise of Bitcoin as P2P electronic cash. Overall, Bitcoin Cash Plus describes itself as “the best money in the world”. Bitcoin Cash Plus is identical to Bitcoin Cash in every way but one: the developers plan to use the Equihash PoW algorithm to take power away from the hands of centralized mining corporations. This is the same algorithm used by Bitcoin Gold. Except the Equihash algorithm, Bitcoin Cash Plus’s developers haven’t changed their feature list from the original Bitcoin Cash (BCH) website. The fork is scheduled to launch on January 2, 2018.

Bitcoin Silver

At the same day when Bitcoin Gold fork appeared from the BTC Blockchain, the developers of Bitcoin Silver wrote on the Bitcointalk forum that they plan to make Bitcoin mining decentralized again. As they state, Bitcoin Silver will have a full replay protection to secure users’ coins from being spent by accident, a new PoW algorithm, and the method of its distribution will be the same as was used by Bitcoin Cash. Considering current situation with a falldown of Bitcoin Gold, it is difficult to say whether Bitcoin Silver will have any supporters and be actually implemented. Meanwhile, Bitcointalk forum users do not take statement about Bitcoin Silver fork seriously, considering it a joke. No technical details are available yet, but it is stated that Bitcoin Silver fork will occur in December.

Bitcoin Uranium

Bitcoin Uranium has the new Equihash PoW algorithm, anonymous addresses and faster (one-minute) network blocks generation. In fact, one-minute block times may be a bit too short, but they should help keep network fees down, which can be considered a good thing. It will also feature native SegWit support and a unique address format. The latter aspect is important to prevent people from sending money to the wrong Bitcoin-related blockchain. For now, it seems the Bitcoin Uranium launch will occur on December 31. This is however still a tentative date, as the exact block height has yet to be determined. No exchanges or wallets have committed to support this new fork yet.

Bitcoin God

Bitcoin God will feature Equihash consensus mechanism, smart contract technology, large block size, PoS mining, Lightning Networks and zero-knowledge proof. The total amount will be 21 million. The project is coming on December 25.

Lightning Bitcoin

The project is initiated by a European team, who aims to make Bitcoin transfers as fast as lightning – at a maximum of 24 million transactions a day. Lightning will become the first forked coin that adopts the DPoS (Delegated Proof of Stake) consensus mechanism, which gives voting rights to token holders to avoid control of the system by any party. The fork is scheduled for around December 23.

Failure, fraud or triumph?

Meanwhile, members of the community are uncertain about most of the upcoming Bitcoin forks and do not take statements seriously, considering them a joke. Bitcoin Uranium, with a ticker symbol BUM, sounds like nothing realistic, nor does Bitcoin God. Others have little more than a post on the Bitcoin Talk page and on GitHub. But with so much potential free money on the table, it's practically guaranteed that we'll see more efforts to fork Bitcoin in the coming months. Whether they will be accepted and sought-after, depend much on the investors and exchanges. If a bunch of exchanges announce support for a new currency, that amounts to a de facto endorsement of the currency. And if an exchange does the work to allow customers to withdraw a Bitcoin variant, they might go all the way to supporting it for deposits and trading, too. It appears however that some crypto wallets and exchanges became very cautious about uncertain nature of Bitcoin forks. On November 23, Binance announced, that it will not support hard forks “simply for the sake of forking.” Most of the more legitimate exchanges, like Poloniex and Bittrex, will not list a coin that has not been verified in order to protect their users. On the other hand, Bitcoin Diamond will be supported by more than 30 exchanges, including one named Coin Whale.

Of course, the fact that such forks as Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold were relatively successful doesn't mean that other forks will be. Both projects were pretty persuasive about why their technology is unique and potentially better than conventional bitcoin. Most of the newer Bitcoin forks involve some combination of larger blocks and different mining algorithms. Some are also experimenting with shortening Bitcoin's ten-minute gap between blocks in the blockchain, which could potentially allow for faster transaction times. But none of the ones we've seen so far have a basis as compelling as those first two Bitcoin forks.

There's also a real danger that some of these forks will be scams. When a new Bitcoin fork is created, people have to use their private keys from the existing Bitcoin blockchain to access the newly created fork bitcoins. Someone could create a new Bitcoin fork in hopes of tricking people into revealing the encryption keys for their Bitcoin holdings. This is why prominent Bitcoin developer Gavin Andresen recommends that people move their bitcoins to new addresses before they try to cash out corresponding coins from Bitcoin forks.

Community attitude to the Bitcoin forks

Many in the crypto community are concerned that an overabundance of Bitcoin forks could eventually split the market up and therefore weaken the Bitcoin ecosystem. Others are concerned that the rise of suspicion of centralization and scams that surround these new coins could attribute to cryptocurrency’s reputation of being volatile and insecure.

The fear of a hard fork is rather a touchy subject for investors in particular, as it adds to already unstable crypto environment. There is nothing more that investors dislike than uncertainty. At the same time Bitcoin holds a very big promise, ideally it's supposed to provide an alternative to the current worldwide monetary system, so it needs to be tested in fire. It needs to show it really is anti-fragile. And for that we can't just sweep perceived fragilities under the rug, we need to attack them and thus test the blockchain. Many people see hard forks as a big risk. Currently the community is split into two parts of which we don't know the exact percentage. It could be anywhere from 90/10 to 50/50. We believe this split is the result of a divergence of view that won't go away. Tomorrow they will argue about privacy or any other subject, and it seems that the only way to solve this is through a contentious hard fork. Maybe several Bitcoins will survive, maybe more, maybe not. Of course, traders will exploit any moment of fear and greed, and prices will rally. This shouldn't come as a surprise, the main thing is to be prepared.

It seems that bitcoin forking might be an everyday thing in the coming days. So, it is very important for users to learn how to benefit and protect themselves from such forks. We have already seen a lot of people losing a lot of money because they don’t take proper precautions while claiming these forked coins and eventually end up losing their Bitcoin too.

Who benefits from a Bitcoin hard fork?

It is believed that sooner or later, a hard fork of the Bitcoin protocol will be given to miners. Considering that there has been a heated debate for several years now over whether or not the Bitcoin block size should be increased, one would assume that those who would immediately benefit would be those who are in support of such a change. Organizations such as Coinbase or blockchain.info are supporting an increase in block size, and they are major players in the space. The thing is that bigger blocks motivate single miners join mining pools, thus, mining pools are definitely on board for bigger block sizes.

We know that, in June, Blockstream met with miners to talk about increasing the block size. Regardless of the outcome of this meeting, we now can come to a realistic conclusion that groups within the crypto space are interested in working alongside miners and other groups to exercise control on the Bitcoin space; whether this could be pro-fork or anti-fork.

Too many forks

You will know when there are too many Bitcoin forks when the total market cap of all Bitcoin forks goes down, when an additional fork is created. At the moment, it seems like the new forks still add value to the ecosystem and therefore the total market cap is rising. Nevertheless, Bitcoin forks might be overhyped for the moment, so it might seem like the market cap is increasing in the short term, while it will decrease in the long term. As we know, when the blockchain undergoes a hard fork, the number of crypto-currency units that exist are basically doubled, and all holders will own the original coins and the new coins. This duplicating of the blockchain is similar to a company doing a 2:1 stock split with one major difference – when a stock splits 2:1 the price is automatically halved and all current owners automatically receive twice the number of shares that had before because the original shares and the split shares represent exactly the same.

On the other hand, when the blockchain forks the new blockchain is not the same as the original one in some very major respects:

  • The difficulty and therefore value and cost to create coins in the new blockchain will depend on the percentage of available processing power starting to mine on the new chain compared to just continue mining the old chain.
  • The number of exchanges that decide to start trading in, and allowing purchase and sale and exchange of the coins on the new blockchain will be different than the number that support the old blockchain.
  • The number of online merchants that support the new blockchain will be very limited until everyone sees what happens.
  • The nature of any functional changes implemented in the new blockchain that caused the split in the first place can have a huge effect.

These factors, in fact, do not represent anything that cannot be dealt with through cautious approach and comprehensive preparatory work. The main danger is in user confusion if too many BTC blockchains exist, operational issues due to the complexity of all participants having to implement and accept multiple instances of each blockchain, and increased risk that some functional enhancement that has unintended consequences or breaks a particular blockchain is introduced by mistake.


Whether or not one likes the idea of forks, they represent a true nature of a decentralized democracy. The day when people stop Bitcoin from growing, changing and forking, is the day they lose sight of what Bitcoin is and proposed to be. It is actually a healthy evolution of an open source economy to create new protocols and mandates, and it is the community members’ right to decide whether or not they wish to engage in these proposed updates.

So, with that all being said, here are two main trends in the forthcoming forking environment:

More Forking

Well, first and foremost, prepare for more forks. They are certainly not going away. In fact they are likely to become a common practice, but this is not a bad thing, since their regularity will create a more proportionate response from the community. Some forks will rightly be given good support and attention, whereas others will be ignored for the scams that they are.

More HODLing of Bitcoin

HODLing is a term referring to Hold On for Dear Life. Regular hard forks may result in an increase in the overall market cap and the market dominance of Bitcoin. More people will buy and hold, simply accumulating multiple assets as hard forks become more popular, and the increased holding may boost the demand and therefore the price of Bitcoin.

While BTC holders may stand to gain from the free coins that they will receive as a result of the forks, it is essential to keep a clear head and to take care when trying to retrieve new coins.
Bitcoin is on fire, and there are plenty of people who are trying to get a hold of BTC in any way they can. If you are trying to retrieve your new coins, be sure to you protect yourself and your tokens. Be very skeptical about every fork and look into as many circumstances that lead to its creation as you can. Don’t fall for marketing campaigns and approach everything in the crypto world with a healthy dose of skepticism – the industry is still too young to forgive carelessness.


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