TL;DR: For the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) community, August 1st is Independence Day. That date in history is marked, of course, due to the formal hard fork from Bitcoin Core (BTC) two years ago exactly. At 2018’s one year BCH anniversary, there were heavy sighs along with nervousness about what many saw was just around the corner. This year, the mood is different: tested, resolute, and hardened by a brutal Crypto Winter and buidl culture.
Independence Day: Bitcoin Cash at 2
Bitcoin Cash was born from years-long debate about BTC’s ability to meet what most assumed was going to be an onslaught of demand. Its basic use case as peer-to-peer electronic cash was foundational, widely-shared, uncontroversial. The argument, depending on who was doing the analysis, was either about control of the BTC project or network security over anticipating an adoption surge.
In both instances what would become known as the Scaling Debate was no longer up for discussion. Agreements were famously broken, accusations were thrown around, motive recriminations, outright censorship, and they all combined to form the realization a new project, free from BTC in-fighting, was needed to restore sanity to the digital cash idea. The BTC crew was already back in 2017 beginning to talk “digital gold,” soon to welcome higher fees and slower confirmations. It was time to leave. As of August 1st, 2017, Bitcoin Cash began forging its own path.
The first year of BCH’s existence was spent watching price action, cheering unbelievable runs while making sure this historic hard fork would perform as promised on a technical level. It did, and more. The block size was raised modestly to show it could be done and that the world would not end (BTC hardliners turned into outright Cassandras at the mere mention of block size increases). The network effect, along with exchange adoption and the release of forked coins, put BCH in a solid position to compete as a viable alternative to the world’s first cryptocurrency.
And then the market tanked. The real story of 2018 was the ecosystem’s coming down from cocaine-like manias of Number Go Up. Even the most seasoned crypto veterans have cringe-worthy price predictions from late 2017. In 2018, they’d be humbled. Suddenly the narrative turned to how price was the least important, least interesting aspect of cryptocurrency. Sure it was.
Maybe in a strange and tragic way this was exactly what needed to happen. When champagne is flowing, money sloshing around, everyone is a genius. Projects without much merit get massive amounts of funding. Companies hire like mad, bloating and bureaucratizing. It’s a classic story, really. The space needed a good shaking out. Who was in it for the longer run?
Bitcoin Cash was easy to love at first. It was dropped into most Bitcoiners’ laps. As BCH and BTC both went on to all-time-highs, some of the Scaling Debate sourness subsided. The bear market morphing into a full-fledged 2018 Crypto Winter was something else altogether. Weak hands were sorted. Companies collapsed. Projects folded. Underneath it all, however, BCH raised to 32MB blocks, and buidl culture was starting to blossom.
Buidl Culture: It’s Getting Hot in Here
The end of 2018 brought more change for the BCH community. A scheduled November upgrade turned into a contentious hard fork. Old Scaling Debate foes conspired to bring down once and for all the Bitcoin Cash experiment. A first of its kind Hash War resolved itself, and BCH continued along, stripping off from its circles a cadre of personalities who have since revealed themselves in spectacular ways. There isn’t a day in the current community configuration where the BCH Gang doesn’t voice its appreciation for the forking process. Forks are freedom.
That newly found development-freeing has this calendar year seeing a reinvigoration of applications and products built on and for BCH. Entire on-chain social networks are now routine and increasing in popularity. Recovering bits of code within the protocol after November 2018 yielded the ability to build privacy tools, an aspect of cryptocurrency thought almost extinct and destined for ghettoization.
The Bitcoin Cash community can, right now, use peer-to-peer digital cash with relative transaction anonymity. It can choose from a variety of wallets: desktop, mobile, even browser extension-based. The advent of scripting language has given way to a trustless escrow exchange to buy and sell BCH all over the world without frictions like KYC. Tokens have gained in popularity, from the profound to the profane, some fun, some serious. New implementation nodes are coming online. Exchanges are popping up all the time, and BCH is a staple of their base pairs, reliable and desirable. Luminaries from other crypto projects are expressing affection for the community’s grit and noticeable progress during less than ideal conditions.
Merchant adoption continues apace in 2019, and conferences are starting up again with renewed focus and energy. MeetUps are growing around the world. For the time being at least, the salon debates, the exhausting lectures and endless social media battles are over. Bitcoin Cash is here, an ecosystem fixture, its community is vibrant and strong, and all that is left to do is become peer-to-peer electronic cash for the world.
DISCLOSURE: The author holds cryptocurrency as part of his financial portfolio, including BCH.
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