Bitcoin is divided. Some are calling it the currency’s “constitutional crisis”, a debate that has split its community right down the middle.
The crux of the issue comes down to a single technical detail: the size of bitcoin’s blocks.
The question of scale in bitcoin is not a new one. But as transaction volumes are expected to increase in the years ahead, questions about the cryptocurrency’s future composition must, in the eyes of those who favor change, be answered sooner rather than later: who does it serve? How should it look? What makes it unique?
As the block size debate rages on, here’s a primer on its broad strokes and why it matters.
What are blocks?
Blocks are batches of transactions which are confirmed and subsequently shared on bitcoin’s public ledger, the blockchain.
In the early days of the currency, these blocks could carry up to 36MB of transaction data apiece. However, in 2010, this was reduced to 1MB to reduce the threat of spam and potential denial-of-service attacks on the network.
This limit remains in place today, however as transactions increase bitcoin’s blocks are filling up – edging further towards this 1MB line.