For his part, SIlbert — who is one of the biggest players in the space — said he is declining to take sides, but expects that the community will come to a workable solution.
And while political considerations may rile up the community, it’s not immediately obvious that they will lead to the failure of the entire network. In fact, while bitcoin’s price saw a big one-day drop after Hearn’s exit from about $430 to less than $360, the price has largely recovered to nearly $420.
Daily transactions, number of users, merchant acceptances and venture capital investments have also all hit record highs since the block size debate began, according to Silbert. And while financial professionals outside of the bitcoin community have noticed recent news reports about its supposed failure, he said, those potential investors “are becoming a bit numb to both positive and negative headlines” — a potential sign of maturity in the space.
In fact, when interviewed via email in August, Hearn told CNBC the bitcoin network would continue to function no matter how the block size debate was decided — but its growth could become stalled.
“Well, Bitcoin will still exist no matter what happens. But obviously if there’s no chance of growth and the community decides to follow the Bitcoin Core developers (without even knowing who exactly is in that group), then a whole lot of other developers and entrepreneurs will leave,” Hearn said. “Because you can’t build a successful business on an infrastructure with no chances of growth.”
But even if the current debates, and Hearn’s exit, are not bitcoin’s death knell, that doesn’t mean the digital currency is destined for long-term success.
“I still maintain that, from the price perspective, bitcoin has a binary outcome: It is either going to zero or it’s going much higher,” Silbert said. “Discussions and debates are just a healthy part of the process.”