As the most-well known type of digital asset, Bitcoin has become synonymous with the world of cryptocurrency and continues to lead the way as the oldest and most expensive coin on the market. However, it isn’t necessarily everyone’s favourite, despite currently being the most functional, and has encountered a number of problematic challenges on its quest for mass adoption. As such, over the past couple of years, there have been a number of different types of Bitcoin have been created in a process called a hard fork that aimed to tackle some of the issues with the Bitcoin network. With that in mind, if you’re thinking of investing in cryptocurrency, then you might wonder what the difference between them so let’s take a look at Bitcoin’s intended hard forked coins.
As the first of its kind, Bitcoin Cash was introduced on 1st August 2017 and was forked at block 478558. Its inception came as a consequence of a group of developers wanting to increase bitcoin’s block size limit due to rising fees on the bitcoin network. In turn, they prepared a code change which would mean that the bitcoin network and the cryptocurrency split into two. Following the hard fork, holders of Bitcoin was rewarded with the same number of Bitcoin Cash units, as a method of stimulating the market straight after the fork. Similar to Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash runs on a proof-of-work timestamping scheme and has the same supply, block reward and time. The main difference between Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash though is its intended use; many in the community wanted Bitcoin to be treated as a digital investment and Bitcoin Cash as a transactional currency. Hence, the hard fork and emergence of Bitcoin Cash, which is perceived to have a bright future as a method of paying merchants for products/services.
Created on 24th October 2017 when it was forked at block 491407, Bitcoin owners received the same number of units in Bitcoin Gold. The purpose of this hard fork was aimed at restoring the mining functionality with common Graphics Processing Units (GPU), rather than mining with specialised ASIC which is what’s used to mine Bitcoin. By implementing this set up, the ubiquity of the GPU needed would provide anyone with the ability to start mining even with a standard, off-the-shelf PC. Despite it sharing the same name as Bitcoin, the network in itself is not as secure as the crypto community realised in May 2018 when it fell victim to a successful 51% hashing attack by an unknown actor. Consequently, the double-spending attack led to much distrust in the community over the credibility of Bitcoin Gold.
Bitcoin Private was forked at block 511346 on 28th February 2018, where for each Bitcoin or ZClassic owned each owner would receive the same number of units in Bitcoin Private. Bitcoin Private is essentially a merge fork of Bitcoin and Zclassic – which is a fork of Zcash – which gives users the option of generating either public or private addresses to send money. Making use of Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Arguments of Knowledge (zk-SNARKs), rather than ring structures, private addresses give evidence of ownership but does not related which units are owned. As such, users of private addresses are able to redeem funds without any traceable history, much unlike Bitcoin where all transactions are recorded and displayed in a public ledger.
Most recently, Bitcoin SV was forked at block 556766 on 15th November 2018 and each owner of Bitcoin Cash received the same number of units in Bitcoin SV. This hard fork was as a result of splitting Bitcoin Cash into two currencies; Bitcoin Cash ABC and Bitcoin Cash SV, which originated from two competing Bitcoin Cash camps.
Bitcoin ABC – which stands for Adjustable Blocksize Cap – was headed up by entrepreneur Roger Ver and co-founder of Bitmain, Jihan Wu, and was designed to maintain the block size at 32MB. The idea behind this is that because the team behind this feel the basic structure of Bitcoin Cash does not need any radical change, but instead would focus more on increasing the block size in order to reduce transaction costs.
Led by Craig Wright – the self-proclaimed identity of Satoshi Nakamoto – and billionaire Calvin Ayre the intention behind this cryptocurrency is to realise the alleged vision of the creator of Bitcoin through the restoration of the features of the original bitcoin protocol but with unlimited sized blocks. Bitcoin SV – which stands for Satoshi’s Vision – actually overtook Bitcoin Cash in market capitalisation for a short time in December 2018, before falling behind once again.
While there could be plenty more forked coins that could feature on this list – 44 exactly, which includes other notable mentions such as Bitcoin Diamond and Super Bitcoin – just because they carry the Bitcoin name doesn’t mean that they offer the same thing. Each forked coin aims to offer something different with the intention of tackling Bitcoin’s scalability problem – although it is alleged that many are useless. Ultimately, though, some of these could literally be money-making gimmicks, so if you’re looking to invest in cryptocurrency then ensure you fully understand what you’re investing your money into.
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