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Coinbase to Support Both Bitcoin Blockchains Following SegWit2x Fork

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:00 PM
Josiah Wilmoth
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:00 PM

Bitcoin exchange Coinbase has announced it will support both competing blockchains following the proposed SegWit2x hard fork that is scheduled for November.

Coinbase made the announcement in a blog post  written by Dan Romero, the company’s  vice president of operations.

“We operate by the principle that our customers should benefit to the greatest extent possible from hard forks or other unexpected events,” Romero writes. “This is essential in our mission to make Coinbase the most trusted, safe, and easy-to-use digital currency exchange.”

Romero stated that Coinbase will provide customers with access to coins on both blockchains, although they may restrict access following the fork until both blockchains are stable and secure. “We are currently working on the engineering and security requirements for each bitcoin blockchain ,” the post continues.

Although not directly referenced, the post comes just one day after Bitcoin.org threatened to publicly denounce companies that support SegWit2x and do not publicly commit to meet certain demands. In particular, companies must agree to only use the term “Bitcoin” and ticker symbol “BTC” to refer to the original blockchain and may not do anything to “deprive users of their bitcoins”.

The Coinbase announcement appears to meet the second condition since it promises that customers will have “access to bitcoin on both blockchains” following the fork. However, Romero says they will not release a detailed plan for how they will name the two blockchains until closer to to the scheduled date for the fork.

However, the announcement does not appear to have appeased SegWit2x opponents. Cobra-Bitcoin, one of the current domain owners of Bitcoin.org, wrote on Github  that the statement “isn’t really helpful” and that Coinbase must “immediately clarify that they will continue to call the current Bitcoin blockchain ‘Bitcoin’ with the ticker symbol ‘BTC’.” This would seem to imply that the announcement is not sufficient to remove Coinbase from the list of companies Bitcoin.org will publicly denounce.

Blockstream CSO Samson Mow — another vociferous critic of SegWit2x — suggested on Twitter  that Coinbase’s position may violate the terms of the “BitLicense,” the financial services license bitcoin firms must receive to operate within New York state. Specifically, he pointed to language that prohibits licensees from altering a product or service in such a way that it is rendered “materially different” from its status when the license was approved or raises potential safety concerns and operational concerns.

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