A large part of the Bitcoin community has come together to make a public statement about the Bitcoin blockchain block size debate. In a post published by Blockchain.info and other companies, 7 Bitcoin companies have decided to come out in explicit support of BIP 101. These 7 companies (8 signatures total) believe whole heartedly in the future of the Bitcoin network, largely because their companies depend on the Bitcoin network, and have chosen BIP 101 over Bitcoin XT as the way forward. Here at Bitcorati, we follow the Bitcoin news zealously and always strive to provide accurate news analyses in a timely fashion
The list of signatories is as follows:
- Wences Cesares, CEO of Xapo
- Mike Belshe, CEO of BitGo
- John McDonnell, CEO of Bitnet
- Sam Cole, CEO of KnCMiner
- Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Circle
- Sean Neville, President of Circle
- Peter Smith, CEO of Blockchain.info
- Stephan Pair, CEO of BitPay
The first company to choose sides in the BitcoinXT vs BIP 101 debate was Bitpay. CEO Stephen Pair first posted an informative post on media medium Medium to inform the public of his and his company’s decision. Now that Xapo, BitGo, Bitnet, KnCMiner, Circle, and Blockchain.info have joined BitPay’s ranks, the message is unavoidable. While big names such as Coinbase are missing from this announcement that features many of the other big American Bitcoin companies, the support for 8MB blocks can be found elsewhere as well.
A large part of the community supports 8MB blocks
Starting earlier in August, some Bitcoin mining pools started to tag whether or not they supported the 8MB block size increase. Notably, the pools mostly did not specify whether or not they wanted to use XT or BIP101. Slush’s Pool and AntPool have explicitly marked support for 8MB blocks in their coinbase sig/OP Return. The current biggest pool, Discus Fish/F2Pool, also supports 8MB blocks despite being located in China. While the Bitcoin mining pools might not actually represent the opinion of their miners, it is the best screenshot of Bitcoin miners’ opinion that we have. Assuming that miners would leave a pool if they disagreed with the pool’s block size policy. Some mining pools already intentionally only mine blocks that are significantly under 1MB in size in an attempt to get an edge in network propagation.
The 7 companies’ statement identified and built on this support:
We have found Gavin’s arguments on both the need for larger blocks and the feasibility of their implementation – while safeguarding Bitcoin’s decentralization – to be convincing. BIP101 and 8MB blocks are already supported by a majority of the miners and we feel it is time for the industry to unite behind this proposal.
Decentralization of Bitcoin is key moving forward
If so many Bitcoin companies, miners, and even users are supporting 8MB blocks through the merging of BIP101 to the Bitcoin Core… What is the contention? Initially, the Bitcoin core developers were unable to reach a consensus about the best way to achieve bigger block sizes. Given Bitcoin’s open source nature, changes are always possible; however, getting the entire network to accept a change is mostly uncharted territory. In his initial post, BitPay CEO Stephen Pair said:
As we considered the implications of a block size increase, preservation of the decentralized nature of Bitcoin was the most important consideration. If decentralization is ever compromised, Bitcoin will eventually perish.
Pair didn’t mention the contention Bitcoin XT alternative by name; however, he did mention the debate in spirit:
While this issue has been divisive in some respects, I think it’s valuable to acknowledge that the Bitcoin Core maintainers and contributors have already successfully navigated harder problems in the network’s first 6 years of growth, and I’m confident that Bitcoin’s development community will continue to be its greatest asset.
In past weeks, before affirmative BIP 101 support, many Bitcoin users felt (somewhat incorrectly) that Bitcoin XT was the only way to achieve 8MB blocks on the Bitcoin blockchain. While debate amongst developers was at an apparent standstill, clearly the affected players were just biding their time to come up with a cohesive response. At a recent event that discussed Bitcoin and the blockchain, we saw that the world’s eye is on the Bitcoin blockchain – it needs to be able to grow at a faster rate to become useful in the way people are imagining. Of course, projects such as the Lightning network or Factom could serve as a secure data layer on top of the Bitcoin blockchain, even with 1MB; however, that could leave little room for actual end users like me and you.
There is still some work to be done
While Bitcoin detractors have been touting the possibility of a hard fork in response to the inner turmoil between BIP 101 and Bitcoin XT, many have forgotten that such an event wouldn’t happen until 2016. These 7 companies have committed to implementing BIP 101 sooner than the potential fork date. The companies agreed:
Our companies will be ready for larger blocks by December 2015 and we will run code that supports this. As our community grows, it is essential – now more than ever that we seek strong consensus to ensure network reliability. We pledge to support BIP101 in our software and systems by December 2015, and we encourage others to join us.
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Featured image from Wikipedia.