Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that has earned legions of fans and has often been touted as the future of money, is in danger of having no future at all.
A rift within the peer-to-peer network of users and software developers that operate the bitcoin system has prompted one of its senior developers and most ardent proponents, Mike Hearn, to sell all his bitcoin and pull out of the existing network, which is run on a consensus basis and not overseen by any central authority.
‘[Bitcoin] has failed because the community has failed.’
– Mike Hearn, senior bitcoin developer
“[Bitcoin] has failed because the community has failed,” Hearn wrote in a Jan. 14 blog post explaining his departure. “What was meant to be a new, decentralised form of money that lacked ‘systemically important institutions’ and ‘too big to fail’ has become something even worse: a system completely controlled by just a handful of people.”
The crux of the disagreement within the bitcoin community is whether to increase the size of the blocks of data that make up the backbone of bitcoin so that the system could process more transactions at a faster rate. A 1 MB cap on the size of the blocks is hardwired into the bitcoin protocol that was