BitMEX Takes Aim at Bitcoin Core, Will Launch Competing Software Client

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The research arm of cryptocurrency trading platform BitMEX has announced that it will launch its own Bitcoin software client to compete with reference implementation and industry standard Bitcoin Core.

Unveiled this week in a lengthy post discussing the merits of competing software clients, BitMEX Research said that it chose to release its own BTC client to help correct the misunderstanding that open-source software repository Bitcoin Core is in charge of the cryptocurrency’s development and “has the unique capability to change or prevent changes to Bitcoin’s consensus rules.”

The authors argue that this misunderstanding was amplified during and following the blocksize debate, which they say was often incorrectly characterized as a standoff between Core and mining firms and/or large cryptocurrency businesses.

In the wake of that standoff, there has been much discussion within some cryptocurrency circles about who is in “control” of the Core software repository, which is currently hosted on GitHub, and what happens if that repository is hijacked or deleted.

These discussions, BitMEX Research argues, miss the point, as it is users who should be the ones truly in charge of the cryptocurrency’s protocol rules.

“People tend to look for somebody who is in control of Bitcoin’s protocol rules. Prior to and during the blocksize war, many thought it was miners, large businesses or Gavin Andresen. One of the unexpected negative consequences of that war is that many seem to have switched their opinions to believing Bitcoin Core is in-charge, an equally flawed view. The truth is, as hard as it is to appreciate, end users are ultimately in charge of Bitcoin.”

The group’s new client, dubbed Bitcoin BitMEX Research, aims to reduce the network’s reliance on a single major software repository without introducing new risks to the ecosystem. To that end, it will neither implement consensus changes that would force a hard fork nor attempt to re-implement the protocol by rewriting the codebase. Instead, it will launch its client as a fork from Core.

“Since it is a software fork of Bitcoin Core, it carries none of the risks of not being bug for bug compatible, like Satoshi was concerned about,” the authors wrote. “The BitMEX Research client also doesn’t change Bitcoin’s consensus rules, so the concerns about contentious chainsplits do not apply. Therefore, if the Bitcoin Core repository gets hijacked or deleted, the codebase can still improve using the Bitcoin BitMEX Research repository.”

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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.