In its initial announcement earlier this month, Bitmain, arguably the largest mining equipment manufacturer and mining pool operator in the industry, threatened the community with a contentious hard fork in response to the user-activated soft fork (UASF).
As users, node runners and businesses proposed the activation of BIP 148, a user-activated soft fork that ignores the presence of miners and activates Segregated Witness, Bitmain, the operator of Antpool, emphasized that it will lead a Bitcoin hard fork on Aug. 1 and create Bitcoin Cash, a separate Bitcoin Blockchain.
Controversy emerged as ViaBTC, one of the major mining pools and trading platforms, announced that it aims to pursue the development of Bitcoin Cash and hard fork the Bitcoin Blockchain.
The move from ViaBTC was highly controversial and was considered as a questionable decision by both the mining community and industry, as the mining community has agreed to activate SegWit via BIP 91 and BIP 141.
Even Bitmain noted in an official announcement released on July 24 that its introduction of Bitcoin Cash or Aug. 1 hard fork was merely a contingency plan to BIP 148 and the decision of ViaBTC to create Bitcoin Cash does not represent the decision and beliefs of Bitmain.
“Because it is a contingency plan, the UAHF will be implemented by us only if the UASF fork happens and poses an imminent risk to the Bitcoin ecosystem,” said the Bitmain team.
More importantly, Bitmain emphasized that it is in an investment relationship with ViaBTC, but the founder of ViaBTC has 10 times majority voting power over the decisions the company can make. Hence, the decision to hard fork the Bitcoin Blockchain after the activation of BIP 91 and BIP 141, aka SegWit, is not necessarily supported by Bitmain.
“Bitmain and ViaBTC only share an investment relationship in which ViaBTC operates independently. The founder of ViaBTC has ten times the voting rights as those of the investors of ViaBTC. Therefore, the position of ViaBTC does not represent Bitmain’s stance,” said Bitmain.
Although Bitmain has said in its latest announcement that it does not plan to rule out the possibility of the company supporting Bitcoin Cash, Bitmain emphasized that the company is focused on activating SegWit and pursuing the path of SegWit2x.
“A questionable move”
Jimmy Song, well-respected researcher and Bitcoin developer, along with other Bitcoin experts and analysts described the decision of ViaBTC to pursue the development and hard fork of Bitcoin Cash as a questionable move, considering that the mining community has already come to a consensus to activate SegWit and SegWit2x.
Song explained that he believes Bitcoin Cash is being initiated by a group of miners and users that do not support SegWit and are hoping for a drastic increase in block size. Song wrote:
“After the scaling drama of the past few years, we finally made progress when BIP 91 locked in on Thursday. Though SegWit increases transaction capacity, it’s not done so in a way that everyone is happy with. BCC looks like an appeal to the segment of the Bitcoin users that don’t like SegWit. Since SegWit is getting activated on Bitcoin, this fork gives many of these people a place to go.”