Mysterious Group BitPico Threatens to Execute the Bitcoin Hard Fork

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A mysterious individual or group operating under the name “BitPico” has vowed that it will activate the SegWit2x hard fork as planned despite the decision by leading proponents to suspend the controversial scaling proposal indefinitely.

As CCN reported on Wednesday, a group of leading SegWit2x advocates — including developer Jeff Garzik, project lead Mike Belshe, and Bitmain CEO Jihan Wu — published a joint statement calling off the hard fork until consensus for the upgrade could be achieved. With these influential personalities calling for the fork’s suspension, the community breathed a sigh of relief that a blockchain split had been avoided — or at least postponed.

However, at least one entity is vowing to activate the hard fork as scheduled. That person or group is BitPico, a hitherto unknown entity that has nevertheless been active on the SegWit2x mailing list.

Here is BitPico’s full statement, which was sent as a reply to the joint statement calling off the fork:

“We are carrying out the fork regardless as everything is set in motion. Backing down the difficulty right now is a strategy. Wonder why 30% network hash-rate disappeared?  It’s ours; the miners that will continue what is set in motion… A handful of humans cannot stop what they have no control over…”

Who is BitPico?

The most significant part of BitPico’s threat to execute SegWit2x is that he, she, or they control 30% of the bitcoin hashrate and have made it disappear from the network. But despite this bold claim, no one is quite sure who or what BitPico is. This, coupled with several other observations, makes the vow that the hard fork will activate as scheduled appear dubious.

First, BitPico did not sign the New York Agreement (NYA) that set SegWit2x into motion, nor was it publicly “shamed” by Bitcoin.org in its list of SegWit2x supporters. Were BitPico really as influential as it claims, there would certainly be more evidence of its existence. 

Second, BitPico claimed in an email last month that their pool accounted for 1.72% of the global hashrate and that they were in the process of adding another 3-4% by the end of October. So by their own admission, that would mean that their share of the hashrate had grown by at least 24% in less than two weeks — a highly unlikely scenario, especially considering that this group has very little online footprint aside from a vacant Github repository and a sparsely-used Twitter feed.

Third, although the hash rate has made a minor decline since Wednesday, the dip is nowhere near 30% and is most likely part of the network’s normal fluctuations.

Finally, the threat appears hollow even if you accept the group’s claim its software is “enterprise-grade,” which is why it has not been active on Github. Even if the group did account for 30% of the hashrate, that would not be enough to make SegWit2x the “chain with the most accumulated difficulty,” which is the standard that SegWit2x-supporting companies such as Xapo and Coinbase stated they would use to determine which blockchain is “Bitcoin”.

Taking these factors into consideration, it does not appear that one should take BitPico’s threat to activate SegWit2x seriously.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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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.