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Bitcoin Conference says Hard-Fork by 2017; Coinbase CEO says “Too Little, Too Late”

Bitcoin’s core contributors and CEOs from the Bitcoin industry propose a hard-fork, but Xapo and Coinbase CEOs disagree.

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Bitcoin Conference says Hard-Fork by 2017; Coinbase CEO says “Too Little, Too Late”

Bitcoin’s core contributors and CEOs from the Bitcoin industry propose a hard-fork but Xapo and Coinbase CEOs disagree.

A roundtable conference on Bitcoin was held on 21st February 2016 in Cyberport in Hong Kong, China. The meeting was attended by many prominent people related to Bitcoin, including, CEOs of Bitfury, Bitmain, Han Solo, Blockcloud, A-XBT, BIT-X Exchange, Coinfloor, and Huobi, among others. The meeting was also attended by five of Bitcoin’s core contributors, namely, Cory Fields, Johnson Lau, Luke Dashjr, Matt Corallo, and Peter Todd.

A general consensus was reached and signed by all the CEOs, Bitcoin core contributors, members of the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong, and other attendees.

Consensus on hard-fork in the Bitcoin industry

An official statement issued by the Conference read:

“We understand that SegWit continues to be developed actively as a soft-fork and is likely to proceed towards release over the next two months, as originally scheduled. We will continue to work with the entire Bitcoin protocol development community to develop, in public, a safe hard-fork, based on the improvements in SegWit. The Bitcoin Core contributors present at the Bitcoin Roundtable will have an implementation of such a hard-fork available as a recommendation to Bitcoin Core within three months after the release of SegWit. This hard-fork is expected to include features which are currently being discussed within technical communities, including an increase in the non-witness data to be around 2 MB, with the total size no more than 4 MB, and will only be adopted with broad support across the entire Bitcoin community. We will run a SegWit release in production by the time such a hard-fork is released in a version of Bitcoin Core. We will only run Bitcoin Core-compatible consensus systems, eventually containing both SegWit and the hard-fork, in production, for the foreseeable future. We are committed to scaling technologies which use block space more efficiently, such as Schnorr multisig.”

The statement further said that the hard-fork will be activated by July 2017 if strong support from the Bitcoin industry is received. The statement also stated that the code for the hard-fork will be available by July 2016.

Criticism from Coinbase and Xapo

The proposal, however, soon invited criticism from Coinbase and Xapo’s CEOs.

Brian Armstrong, the CEO of Coinbase, wrote a blogpost highlighting his disagreement with the proposal. As per Armstrong, prioritizing SegWit before a block size increase would be a mistake. He wrote: “SegWit contains several good features, but it is not a good solution to help bitcoin scale, which is the most urgent problem we need to solve. My understanding is that Core believes SegWit contains features which are necessary to add before a hard fork can safely occur (to prevent certain attack vectors). However, I believe Classic already contains code that prevents these attack vectors.”

He also adds that July 2017 is “too far” away to raise the block size, and there are better options available:  

Bitcoin Classic, has already taken action and shipped a working solution in code that we can use today. That solution was written and reviewed by two former core developers, so I believe it is a high quality option. In the future, if Core ships a great improvement to the protocol, I will have no problem running that software. But if they haven’t shipped that software yet, and someone else has, there is no reason to wait.”

He makes his final point that this plan should be rejected because Bitcoin protocol development shouldn’t be done by a single group, but rather Bitcoin should have a multi-party system where several teams compete to add features to the protocol.

The CEO of Xapo, and a recent addition the PayPal’s Board of Directors, also tweeted in support of Armstrong:

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