On Wednesday, a plan to alter the overall design—and by extension functionality—of Bitcoin came to a grinding halt. Supporters of what was being called the “Bitcoin expansion” conceded that they did not have enough support to warrant going through with their plan.
What was that plan, you ask? In essence, the proposed expansion would have doubled the amount of time a Bitcoin transaction could be processed, thus speeding up transaction times and ultimately reducing costs associated with those transactions.
With lower costs and faster transaction times being proposed, you might be wondering just why there were such vicious and overwhelming opponents.
Those who have been working on the Bitcoin project from day 1, as well as many others, were very vocal about their not supporting an expansion to the Bitcoin network. The proposed expansion would have come in the form of a release of new Bitcoin software. This new software, as was mentioned above, would function exactly like Bitcoin users have come to familiarize themselves with, however there would be small changes allowing for faster transactions.
People who were opposed to this expansion pointed primarily to two reasons. For one, such a drastic shift in the cryptocurrency, specifically Bitcoin, landscape would be a tumultuous event the market has never before seen. Though these were drastic fears, there were some people who believed it would wreak so much havoc that it could potentially crash the Bitcoin network entirely.
A more practical opposition stance was that such a small, yet high-profile, network getting on its feet would be prone to government interference; or interference from any single entity that had the power to ultimately control the network. Being that Bitcoin is inherently a decentralized network, this was enough to create some vehement opponents. As such, those who planned to roll out the expansion announced today that they would no longer be following through with it.
According to an email sent out by one of the companies that supported the expansion, they said it was “clear” that they “have not built sufficient consensus for a clean block size upgrade at this time.” In the minutes following the release of the email, the price of Bitcoin shot upward, as you might expect.
Despite what might appear to be a victory for Bitcoin, the network is still facing the same problems it has been for quite some time now, and they only seem to be growing worse. With more and more users entering the network on a daily basis, the number of Bitcoin transactions is going to steadily increase. Being that the Bitcoin network only allows for a certain number of transactions to be processed in any 10-minute timeframe, it is clear to see how quite the logjam is beginning to develop.
While the simple solution would be to alter Bitcoin’s fundamental code to support more than a limited number of transactions in a limited timeframe, it is not as easy as it sounds. If there is a change and transactions are rapidly sped up, those with the infrastructure to take on millions upon millions of transactions will take control of the network.
In so many words, the very banks and financial institutions that Bitcoin users often seek to avoid may very well end up processing transactions. Not only that, they may be tracking them as well; a though that no true cryptocurrency fan wants anything to do with.
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