On Nov. 16, major Bitcoin exchange and mining pool BTCC COO Samson Mow revealed that the institution is Segregated Witness (SegWit) ready. BTCC officially started to run the SegWit client on Nov. 17, supporting the on-chain scaling solution of the Bitcoin Core development team.

Cointelegraph reached out to Mow to learn more about BTCC’s stance on SegWit.

He told Cointelegraph:

“SegWit is great for Bitcoin. It brings more transaction throughput, fixes malleability, defrags the UTXO set, makes hardware wallets more secure and most importantly, it enables Lightning which will bring instant low cost Bitcoin transactions to the world. The team at BTCC have been working hard at making our exchange and mining pool services SegWit ready.”

Technical benefits of SegWit

Mow and the rest of the BTCC team acknowledge the technical benefits and advantages that SegWit brings to the network. It fixes transaction malleability, increases capacity of blocks, enables Lightning and enhances security measures of hardware wallets.

In an interview, Ledger CTO Nicolas Bacca similarly emphasized the positive impact SegWit will have on hardware wallets, noting that SegWit allows users to cryptographically sign input amounts of transaction, which solves one of the major issues with hardware wallets.

Rationale and motive of mining pools blocking SegWit activation

ViaBTC, a Bitcoin mining pool that holds just over eight percent in hashpower, has stated that the organization will do anything in its capability to block the activation of SegWit. Specifically, ViaBTC suggested that SegWit is a proposal submitted to stall blocksize increase, which Mow disagrees with completely.

Mow believes that by dismissing the technical benefits of SegWit and the effect it could have on the Bitcoin network and recklessly advocating for bigger blocks without necessary preparation and technological research, ViaBTC and other organizations attempting to block SegWit activation are encouraging politics in Bitcoin.

In a technical sense, SegWit is not a proposal designed to stall blocksize increase but to expand the capacity of the blocksize. As Mow explains, SegWit will lead to bigger blocks - 1.7 MB - which will allow the Bitcoin network to handle more transactions and avoid full blocks

“They can’t possibly want to scale Bitcoin, because SegWit will give them bigger blocks (1.7 MB) and on-chain scaling. They’re specifically asking for lines of code to be changed in inefficient ways when they don't even understand the protocol or tradeoffs. That’s just crazy,” Mow told Cointelegraph.

Will SegWit become activated?

Despite the efforts of some mining pools and individuals to stop SegWit activation, Mow hopes miners will come to realize SegWit’s benefits and make unbiased and fully informative decisions.

When it comes to important protocol changes, it is crucial to view the matter objectively and evaluate actual advantages a change could bring. While it is understandable to think that ViaBTC and other mining pools are opting for larger blocks, with or without increasing blocksize, SegWit will serve as a vital on-chain scaling solution.

“I hope others are aware of SegWit’s benefits and they make their own informed decisions. I think SegWit should be activated, along with many others in the community, but I also don’t think it’s a bad thing if we wait until there is clear consensus,” said Mow.    

Rest of the Interview:

Cointelegraph: What do you think about ViaBTC’s comment that the battle between Bitcoin Unlimited and Segregated Witness is a battle about Bitcoin’s future path?

Samson Mow: The thing they don’t seem to understand is that this is not a battle. ViaBTC and BU supporters think it’s a battle, so they will lose. The Bitcoin Core team spent countless hours of effort to code and thoroughly test SegWit so that everyone wins, even their detractors.

Bitcoin Core developers are the last people on the face of the earth that want to force anything on anyone, much less battle. If this was a battle they would have lowered SegWit’s activation to 75% from 95% in light of threats of mining pools saying they’d block activation. If this was a battle they’d make SegWit a hard-fork to force anyone that didn’t want SegWit off the network. However, this is not what we see. Bitcoin Core kept the activation threshold at 95% to ensure it’s not activated against the will of the super majority, plus it’s delivered as a soft-fork so that it’s backwards compatible with all nodes and existing tech.

Let’s take Bitcoin Core’s SegWit Adoption page as another example. You can only be added to the page if you submit a pull-request. They won’t add anyone by hearsay or just shamelessly pile on company names to bulk up the list. It’s opt-in, just like Bitcoin.

Bitcoin development is not a democracy. Bitcoin development is not about compromising. Bitcoin development is protocol development and the debates are highly technical, incredibly complex, sometimes harsh, but it’s not a battle.

CT: What do you think is the motive & rationale behind ViaBTC and others that are trying to block SegWit?

SM: I can’t begin to imagine their motives & rationale but my best guess is they want what they think is power, demonstrated by “bringing Core to the bargaining table & increasing the block size.” They can’t possibly want to scale bitcoin, because SegWit will give them bigger blocks (1.7 MB) and on-chain scaling. They’re specifically asking for lines of code to be changed in inefficient ways when they don't even understand the protocol or tradeoffs. That’s just crazy.

The irony is lost on them that blocking SegWit is encouraging politics in Bitcoin, which only serves to make Bitcoin more like fiat currencies – subject to lobbying and manipulation. If mining pools banded together to make a political statement, that they will block SegWit for whatever reason, it would be very detrimental to Bitcoin in the short-term. Most Bitcoin mining is done in China as well as trading, but Bitcoin isn’t just China, especially because Bitcoin cannot be used as legal tender in China. There’s a massive ecosystem that gives Bitcoin its value and it’d be irrational to send the world a message that 4 pool operators in China have decided something on their behalf. Users are not going to like that and I’d expect a price drop, which will harm the miners – not the pools making the statement, but the actual miners.