It feels like the Bitcoin scaling debate has been around almost as long as Bitcoin itself. How Bitcoin scalability is best achieved, how we catapult this exciting forerunner of the digital currency scene into the global mainstream, remains at the very heart of the blockchain future. But, while the growth in popularity of Bitcoin, and blockchain technology as a whole, has been nothing short of explosive, the accompanying scaling row has become painstakingly slow and turgid by comparison. So much so, in fact, it could now be seriously affecting Bitcoin’s development, threatening its status as ‘Crypto King’, and giving other currencies and technologies the opportunity to accelerate their expansion ahead of it.
To briefly recap, the Bitcoin scaling solution has two broad churches. Some want to increase the block size to speed up transactions and relieve congestion in the system, while others, who fear an increase may deter new users and impact long-term wide appeal, favour a technical upgrade called SegWit (Segregated Witness) which would allow people to create a web of payment channels to service all users on the network.
We are approaching a key milestone in this protracted journey. On August 1st, a limited activation of a SegWit soft fork is in the offing. How the community reacts to this over the coming weeks will be important to the future direction – or directions – of travel for Bitcoin. But even so, this is merely a stepping stone. The road to a resolution could still be long and winding from then on.
Meanwhile, we are seeing consistent huge spikes in the value of Ether. At the time of writing, Ether is up 5000% in price since the start of the year. It has increased 320% over the past month alone, with Bitcoin up ‘just’ 60% in the same period. According to website Happening.watch, Ethereum trading volumes have actually started to surpass those of Bitcoin recently. The momentum is undoubtedly with Ethereum. The two of them remain the leading lights of the cryptocurrency landscape but others are emerging on an almost daily basis, and growing at an increasingly rapid rate.
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Bitcoin hasn’t lost its crypto crown yet, and may never be dethroned of course, but the odds are shortening. And the irony is, for such a fast-growth innovative technology, in the grand scheme of things, it just might not be fast enough.
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