Bitcoin ABC Calls nChain’s Bluff, Vows to Proceed with Contentious Hard Fork Upgrade

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Bitcoin Cash development team Bitcoin ABC isn’t backing down from its plan to release a contentious software upgrade in November, despite vows from other development teams and at least one major mining pool to continue using software that is incompatible with the new ABC client.

On Monday, Bitcoin ABC released version 0.18.0 of its full node Bitcoin Cash implementation, which is scheduled to be activated following the network’s scheduled November hard fork. Included in the update are several contentious features, including canonical transaction ordering and the activation of two new opcodes — OP_CHECKDATASIG and OP_CHECKDATASIGVERIFY.

Supporters argue that these features will make Bitcoin Cash more efficient and extensible, particularly when it comes to implementing a smart contract framework into the BCH protocol.

However, these proposed changes have been met with strong resistance by others within the Bitcoin Cash community, including nChain — Craig Wright’s blockchain development firm — and CoinGeek, the large BCH mining pool founded by billionaire Calvin Ayre.

bitcoin cash mining node stats
Bitcoin ABC is the largest BCH full node implementation by far, but major mining pool CoinGeek is refusing to upgrade to the latest version. | Source: CoinDance

Last week, nChain announced that it was releasing its own full node BCH implementation, dubbed Bitcoin SV (short for “Satoshi Vision”), which would not include these features from Bitcoin ABC and would instead reintroduce four “Satoshi opcodes” and quadruple the BCH blocksize to 128MB.

CoinGeek, whose mining pool accounts for nearly a quarter of the Bitcoin Cash hashrate, said that it will support Bitcoin SV’s development path and refuse to upgrade to software that it believes deviates from the spirit of the original Bitcoin whitepaper.

At present, approximately two-thirds of all BCH node operators are using Bitcoin ABC. It’s unclear how many will migrate to an alternate software client in opposition to the new changes in ABC 0.18.0, but some BCH apps, including Money Button, have expressed concern that they will have to run multiple nodes and manually pause payments since the incompatible nodes will likely at times disagree.

It is also unclear whether other development teams, particularly Bitcoin Unlimited — which accounts for approximately one-third of all full-node clients — intend to side with Bitcoin ABC or nChain. CCN has reached out to Bitcoin Unlimited for comment and will update this article upon receiving a reply.

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Josiah is an assistant editor at CCN. A former ancient and medieval literature teacher, he has been reporting on cryptocurrency since 2014. He lives in rural North Carolina with his wife and children. He holds investment positions in bitcoin and other large-cap cryptocurrencies. Follow him on Twitter @Y3llowb1ackbird or email him directly at josiah.wilmoth(at)ccn.com.