It ain’t easy being Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency has undergone several forks in the course of the last year while simultaneously skyrocketing in value and was on course for potentially another fork set to take place in mid-November. It’s that last part which has run into a pretty serious speed bump.
Known as Segwit2x, the plan was to both double the Bitcoin block size to 2MB and to move some transaction data off the blockchain. To many in the Bitcoin community, the move was controversial. So controversial, in fact, that the backers of the plan announced in a November 8 email they would be backing down.
“Although we strongly believe in the need for a larger blocksize, there is something we
believe is even more important: keeping the community together,” the email from Mike Belshe, CEO of the bitcoin wallet software BitGo, reads. “Unfortunately, it is clear that we have not built sufficient consensus for a clean blocksize 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.”
The email was signed by other noted luminaries in the world of Bitcoin, including Mike Belshe, Wences Casares, Jihan Wu, Jeff Garzik, Peter Smith and Erik Voorhees.
So what does this mean for Bitcoin? In the short term, it means the immediate possibility of a hard fork is no more. In the long term? Will the block size forever remain at 1MB — limiting transactions and increasing fees along with it? That’s unclear, but Belshe hopes this isn’t the last we’ve heard of doubling the block size.
“As fees rise on the blockchain, we believe it will eventually become obvious that on-chain capacity increases are necessary,” he added. “When that happens, we hope the community will come together and find a solution, possibly with a blocksize increase.”
The announcement comes as the price of Bitcoin passed $7,700 and seemed to be on its way to $8,000. It was only last week, on November 2, that Bitcoin hit $7,000 in value for the first time.