B2X’s Selling Points are Motivated with Self-Interests
A hard fork is a software upgrade that is incompatible with previous versions of the software which results in a permanent divergence in the blockchain. Non-upgraded nodes cannot validate blocks by the upgraded nodes and vice versa. Hard forks are considered risky because they often create division within the Bitcoin community, cause market uncertainty and turmoil, and potential loss of funds over the network. If it wasn’t for the Bitcoin community’s UASF initiative to make SegWit happen, I doubt the miners would’ve ever changed their minds. So why aren’t the companies behind B2X satisfied as they still want this hard fork? Let’s examine the arguments for B2X to see how valid they are and find what’s really motivating its development.
Who Really Benefits from 2X?
B2X proponents argue that bigger blocks allow the network to handle more transactions. More transactions per block drive down transaction fees and speed up confirmation times. A faster network supports more users and enable more use cases. Though these improvements sound great, they could lead to unwanted repercussions for the ecosystem.
Bigger blocks increase the requirements to run a full node, leading to greater of the Bitcoin Network. Doubling the block size requires twice the hard drive capacity to store the same number of blocks. A bigger block size also necessitates a greater bandwidth requirement to send and receive data to propagate the blocks. Smaller mining companies unable to gather the additional resources needed to continue competing with mining conglomerates will shut down. Volunteer nodes that typically help maintain the network could also be to shut down as they become unable to keep up with these requirements, further centralizing the network to the few with enough capacity to do the job.
B2X proponents do not seem to mind these repercussions since they are actually able to benefit from them. Miners want bigger blocks because more transactions in a block means more fees to collect. Businesses benefit from a network that supports more transactions. Bitcoin startups want lower transaction fees and faster confirmation times to scale their business and increase customer base. B2X is a solution that benefits corporation’s bottom lines more than to Bitcoin’s community. Corporations’ dreams of profits should not drive Bitcoin’s development. We mustn’t harm Bitcoin’s consensus framework during a process of improving Bitcoin into a robust payment platform.
Unrealistic Scaling Comparisons
B2X proponents argue that bigger blocks are necessary to scale Bitcoin to a level capable of competing with VISA, MoneyGram, and Paypal as payment platforms. However, to think that B2X will reach VISA’s transaction capacity simply by doubling current block size alone is unrealistic, and frankly a lie. Let’s not forget that Bitcoin’s consensus mechanism requires computation of a difficult mathematical puzzle as part of transactions verification, and then propagation of the blocks from node to node, which differs widely from traditional payment platforms. Remember, VISA isn’t decentralized; VISA doesn’t have a consensus mechanism; VISA doesn’t run Proof-of-Work; VISA doesn’t propagate their transactions across the network multiple times.
B2X and its larger block will not solve the overarching scaling problem. More transaction capacity is only one aspect of Bitcoin’s scaling debate. B2X proponents try to take advantage of Bitcoiners’ optimism for Bitcoin to be a mainstream payment platform by selling them a pipe dream.
Not a Compromise
Another selling point B2X proponents make is that they are the victim in the HKA dispute so B2X is rightfully the proper solution. B2X proponents make the case that SegWit2X is a “compromise” with Bitcoin core receiving SegWit and Big Blockers gaining more block space, and that it was the Core team who negated on the agreement.
A “compromise” is an agreement between two willing parties, but it’s been confirmed Bitcoin Core was not involved in any of these discussions. HKA and NYA were both finalized without consensus from Bitcoin core developers who understand Bitcoin better than anyone, or Bitcoin’s strong community of users. Contrary to Bitcoin’s consensus model, the community did not get a say in these two agreements at all. The NYA was created with very much financial self-interest at stake, by Bitcoin corporations willing to coerce users into blindly adopting their decisions.
Rushed Development, No Replay Protection
From preventing user subscriptions to B2X’s mailing list and slack channels, B2X developers do not show that they care about development transparency. B2X’s flip flop, and eventually opt-out, of replay protection displays an incredibly reckless behavior with little regards to safeguarding the community’s bitcoins.
Replay protection makes transactions from chain X invalid on chain Y and vice versa. A lack of replay protection means that one might accidentally spend BTC when really, he meant to spend B2X or vice versa. It is unclear whether B2X developers do not know how to make it work, or don’t care about replay attacks, or just deliberately causing turmoil. If this is a meaningful upgrade to benefit the community, I would argue that prevention of potential loss of funds should be taken with the utmost seriousness.
Proper software development requires months, even years, of testing. It’s common to spend 18 months working on an upgrade before launch. B2X has not been transparent and lacks safety precautions, yet it’s developers still intent to fork in less than 6 months of development. B2X is rushing this fork to say the least. It seems clear to me B2X’s development only care about getting bigger blocks and nothing else.
If B2X became the dominant chain with majority support, it would take over BTC as the main Bitcoin blockchain. Bitcoin exchanges and businesses have stated that they will consider renaming B2X to BTC and BTC to BTC Legacy. B2X’s development team becomes the new “Core” which means they would control Bitcoin’s development. Bitcoin core has already communicated that if BTC loses this battle, then they will consider Bitcoin a failure. With Bitcoin core out of the way, B2X would gain full access to Bitcoin’s community and have complete control over its direction. Bitcoin is a system based on consensus of its users and trust within the community. B2X is created by Bitcoin companies in a top-down approach, with profitability in mind. B2X is a power play to remove Bitcoin Core development team and gain control over Bitcoin.
The entire block size debate is a divisive tactic to split and distract the user community while the corporations and miners seize control. A temporary solution to scaling at best, B2X is a decision made for users by the corporations who would benefit the most from it. Having reviewed at B2X’s selling points however, it is impossible to ignore the manipulation, financial and political motivations behind this fork.
SegWit2X sets a negative precedent and potentially irreversible situation for Bitcoin if a few powerful companies can effectively take control of Bitcoin’s future. If B2X succeeds, what would stop them from making further closed-door deals? Or submitting to demands from powerful institutions such as Facebook or Amazon or Governments. Every B2X argument sounds good on paper but easily shatters when one follows the trail of undisclosed benefits. This trail leads directly to Bitcoin businesses and mining companies who have much to gain from B2X, at the detriment of users.
It is crucial to upgrade Bitcoin in a fair and methodological manner, as opposed to quick and messy fixes. Scaling and decentralization are both important. We cannot compromise Bitcoin’s integrity at any cost. Solution to these problems calls for further exploration into challenging and innovative options, rather than bigger blocks. Whether one is a Big Blocker or a Small Blocker, let’s be diligent in Bitcoin’s development and collaborate to build a sustainable game plan benefits everyone: users, miners and businesses.