First Bitcoin Cash Developer Meeting After IFP Proposal: Amaury Séchet Explains Position, Status

TL;DR: The second Bitcoin Cash Development meeting for 2020 took place recently, first since the now very controversial Infrastructure Funding Plan for Bitcoin Cash (IFP) was announced late last month. Reference client team Bitcoin ABC is committed to offering the IFP ahead May 15 within the scheduled network upgrade, and lead developer Amaury Séchet took the public meeting’s opportunity to clarify its position. 

First Bitcoin Cash Developer Meeting After IFP

On February 20, 2020 Amaury Séchet – Bitcoin ABC, Tobias Ruck – be.cash, Antony Zegers – Bitcoin ABC, Matias Garcia – BitPay, Chris Troutner – Bitcoin.com, Jason B. Cox – Bitcoin ABC, Josh Green – Bitcoin Verde participated, hosted by David R. Allen. Among the topics discussed in preparation for the next scheduled upgrade included upping transaction limits, script language improvements, Cash Stack benchmark tests, and other decidedly less controversial measures.

This is not a very controversial idea in China. This is obviously a very controversial idea in the West. It’s in the hands of miners to activate it or not.

At the 14:18 second mark, Séchet, who has taken the brunt of criticism leveled at the IFP by a growing chorus of very vocal and prominent community members in opposition, addressed the topic looming over Bitcoin Cash (BCH), ABC, and the entire project. For more than a year, he has been on an overt and at times contentious campaign to raise awareness about the need for protocol development funding.

Characterizing the IFP as having been ultimately generated out of repeated requests from the Chinese community, going back more than two years, Séchet insisted, “This is not a very controversial idea in China. This is obviously a very controversial idea in the West,” an allusion to the greater argument of who exactly makes up the BCH community. “It’s in the hands of miners to activate it or not,” Séchet reminded. He immediately admitted that, at this point, miners appeared to not be signaling in favor of the IFP’s activation.

I Think We Can Make Everybody Happy

Séchet was also careful, under a wry smile, to stress the Chinese mining community is far from any sort of nefarious actor, pointing to their continued funding of BCH since its inception August of 2017. “If anything,” he noted, “they have been the ones paying for most of it,” meaning infrastructure development. He further framed the mood in China as “wait and see,” expecting the broader community to “come up with alternatives,” he explained. “We should work on that,” Séchet continued. “If we work on that, I think we can make everybody happy.”

IFP

He also took questions from the panel and audience. Asked by panelist Chris Troutner about details of a proposed whitelist of projects by way of the IFP, Séchet once again reminded that the IFP’s activation is far from a given, and emphasized the finding of alternatives. He shrugged about the fate of a whitelist within the IFP, and referred to it as perhaps to be implemented through code alternatives such as Avalanche for determining consensus on such issues.

At the 50:00 mark, BitPay’s Matias Garcia said he wanted to better understand the IFP and why it is being included in the ABC client for May when it is so obviously controversial, calling such a move “risky.” Séchet responded by again appealing to the China mining community, stating the IFP was a “strong request” from that segment of the BCH ecosystem. Séchet insisted the IFP was only an option, and that more options available is a good thing.

A Little Rushed to Include That Option

“It doesn’t mean this must be the way it happens. It’s just an option that is available,” he answered. Garcia said he understood its benefit as an option, but noted only miners could vote one way or the other on the IFP, and that more than just miners make up the community. “It seems to me it was a little rushed to include that option in the client,” Garcia observed, offering his support and help for alternative funding measures.

IFP

If anything, Séchet retorted, the IFP controversy has at least raised awareness about infrastructure funding and prompted more focus on finding alternatives. He voiced preference for a Linux Foundation-type of arrangement over the IFP, but is resigned to what is “on the table.”

That said, Séchet then turned philosophical about the IFP and its fallout. (His own team members and close collaborators have, in at least two cases, come out against the IFP. A new node to replace ABC as the reference client for Bitcoin Cash is in the works. It’s safe to acknowledge at this point, the IFP has been an utter public relations nightmare.) Still, Séchet insisted, creative decisions are often made out of chaos, and while, short term, it does seem emotion has taken hold of important segments of the community, cooler heads will prevail. In three months, he said optimistically, there could be real, substantive progress made.

Avoiding a Chain Split at All Cost

Josh Green of Bitcoin Verde agreed regarding community focus on funding. “We’re having this discussion now,” noting he was opposed to the IFP but understanding of infrastructure funding needs. Above all, Green warned, a chain split being avoided is the most important consideration. Bitcoin ABC’s Antony Zegers seconded Green’s split worry, and believes it to be “unlikely.” Garcia of BitPay jumped back into the discussion, and again characterized the IFP’s inclusion into the ABC client as “too risky” at this point.

Séchet was also careful to note he could not predict the future, but felt a chain split does not look likely. He tempered that optimism with observing how actions taken in opposition to the IFP, such as a competing node, could in fact inadvertently cause a chain split. He also spoke about how there are actors out there who revel in Bitcoin Cash drama and are using the opportunity to manipulate the situation.

The rest of the audience question and answer session delved into the weeds of IFP activation and its BIP9 vagaries for miner voting. One question went to the heart of the present storm for Bitcoin Cash and ABC, asking if this was appropriate and rolled out at the right time. Séchet once again appealed to cooler heads, and Troutner emphasized how the community isn’t just the West. In fact, China is the economic backbone of mining and can have a disproportionate impact on decisions related to aspects like the IFP, both Troutner and Séchet agreed.

Amaury Séchet’s CLARIFICATION 

AUDIENCE QUESTION AND ANSWER

IN ITS ENTIRETY

TIMELINE THUS FAR

Bitcoin Cash

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