For over a year, bitcoin has been embroiled in a circular debate about a code change that would allow the virtual currency to handle many more transactions. But this week finally saw a major shake-up that could change the course of bitcoin as we know it.
The issue at hand is the size of blocks of bitcoin data that get uploaded to its public ledger, the blockchain. These blocks are created by miners in the network that use powerful computers to solve math problems and receive a reward. The idea is that if blocks get too full—something that observers have noted is already happening—the network will slow to a crawl due to the congestion.
Scaling up the block size is essential for bitcoin’s future, proponents argue, because merchants and customers won’t use a system where their transactions take hours to be confirmed. Increasing the size of blocks would theoretically free up more space as more people start using bitcoin and keep everything running smoothly.
Opponents argue that there’s a slew of reasons why this might not be desirable, mostly centred around the potential