Bitcoin is in crisis; Bitcoin is thriving. More people than ever are using the cryptocurrency but as adoption grows the network that it relies upon is running out of spare capacity. Developers fear that within less than a year, the whole thing could grind to a halt. If nothing is done, bitcoin’s own success may end up breaking it.
The debate surrounding how best to address this issue has the community divided, with some even going as far as to blame it for the recent Bitcoin price crash. On Tuesday the price of Bitcoin fell below $200 (£129) for the first time in six months, as uncertainty surrounding the cryptocurrency’s future continued.
The main point of contention relates to the size of bitcoin’s blocks – a term used to describe the batches of confirmed transactions shared on bitcoin’s public ledger, the blockchain. The block size was originally 1MB to prevent spam and, according to Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator Satoshi Nakamoto, “keep it small so new users can get going faster”.
Nakamoto never meant for this size to be permanent