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The Owner of Bitcoin.org Has a Plan to Avoid a Bitcoin Cash Civil War

Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:33 PM
Josiah Wilmoth
Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:33 PM

Another attempt is being made at brokering a compromise before the Bitcoin Cash Civil War culminates in a permanent blockchain split, and it’s coming from what may initially seem like an unlikely source: Cobra , the pseudonymous co-owner of Bitcointalk and Bitcoin.org.

Earlier this year, Cobra — originally a critic of Bitcoin Cash — came out in support of BCH, though he continues to also support BTC while taking some controversial positions such as arguing for a change to the network’s Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus algorithm.

Now, he’s launching what he calls a “safe and reliable” full node Bitcoin Cash implementation in an attempt to prevent a civil war between BCH development teams Bitcoin ABC and nChain from causing a network split that permanently damages the cryptocurrency’s reputation.

Dubbed “Cobra Client ,” the software adopts neither canonical transaction ordering nor any of opcode activations proposed by Bitcoin ABC and nChain, which Cobra argues do not have enough consensus support to justify immediate activation.

What it does include, however, is replay protection, ensuring that users who run this instance of the BCH software will not be at risk of replay attacks  — which occur when an attacker broadcasts the same transaction on multiple blockchain forks — if the network splits into two or more chains following the scheduled network hard fork in November, which increasingly seems like an inevitability.

bitcoin cash hashrate
CoinGeek, whose mining pool makes up about 27 percent of the BCH hashrate, has thrown its support behind nChain. However, Cobra claims that his plan has the support of about one-quarter of the hashrate as well. | Source: CoinDance

According to Cobra, such a blockchain split would be a “disaster” for Bitcoin Cash and even a temporary fork would “cause lasting damage.”

He wrote:

“Such a consensus failure will be a disaster for all investors and users of Bitcoin Cash, but it is almost impossible to avoid at this point as all the developers and miners involved refuse to back down. Such a scenario will wipe out huge amounts of value from Bitcoin Cash, lead to total ridicule of the currency, and widespread loss of trust and faith. Such reputation damage is simply not worth it, all just so some developers and miners can avoid having their egos bruised around some mostly unimportant and non-urgent changes. Even a temporary fork will cause lasting damage.”

Cobra claims that, prior to announcing his client, he worked behind-the-scenes to secure support from a broad coalition of BCH stakeholders. This group, he says, includes at least a quarter of the Bitcoin Cash hashrate (nChain’s proposal also has explicit support from about one-fourth of the hashrate), as well as “a number of major businesses” including one “major cryptocurrency exchange” who has agreed to list the Cobra fork’s coins under the “BCH” ticker symbol. However, he has not yet disclosed the identities of these supporters, nor have they come forward.

This isn’t the first attempt to broker a compromise ahead of the fork. Bitcoin Unlimited, whose software client is used by approximately one-third of BCH node operators, has said that it will make all of the changes proposed by ABC and nChain available in its software and has encouraged users to switch to BU to signal their support for a compromise that will afford miners more control over which individual upgrades activate on the network.

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