The controversial SegWit2x fork has been suspended indefinitely, with promoters citing a lack of consensus for the November 16 software upgrade.
The suspension was announced by SegWit2x project lead Mike Belshe in an email distributed to the SegWit2x mailing list, but it also bore the signatures of Wences Casares, Jihan Wu, Jeff Garzik, Peter Smith, and Erik Voorhees. Interestingly, the statement was not signed by Barry Silbert, whose Digital Currency Group was instrumental in organizing the New York Agreement (NYA) that set SegWit2x into motion.
The agreement had called for both the activation of Segregated Witness (SegWit) and an increase in the blocksize to 2MB. SegWit activated earlier this year, although it is debatable what role the NYA played in its implementation. However, the blocksize increase never achieved consensus, and the debate became increasingly vitriolic as the approximate November 16 date for the hard fork approached.
At this point, nearly everyone was resigned to a scenario in which Bitcoin would split into two competing blockchains. However, those fears were dashed on Wednesday, as Belshe shared that the developers and promoters of the protocol upgrade were concerned that activating the hard fork could prove to be a “setback to Bitcoin’s growth.”
From the statement:
“Although we strongly believe in the need for a larger blocksize, there is something we believe is even more important: keeping the community together,” Belshe wrote. “Unfortunately, it is clear that we have not built sufficient consensus for a clean blocksize upgrade at this time. Continuing on the current path could divide the community and be a setback to Bitcoin’s growth.”
SegWit2x opponents immediately began to celebrate the news on social media channels. “Common sense prevails,” declared Litecoin creator and outspoken SegWit2x opponent Charlie Lee. “Let’s now work together towards scaling safely”. He added that on-chain scaling may be necessary in the future but that a hard fork should not be activated without broad consensus.
Dogecoin creator Jackson Palmer said that the move was merely “delaying the inevitable,” arguing that transaction fees are still high and that Bitcoin scaling “is far from solved”:
“Nobody is actually using bitcoin as currency though, so I guess they are happy to ignore these facts,” Palmer added with a note of sarcasm.
The bitcoin price fluctuated wildly in the wake of the announcement. Bitcoin immediately surged to $7999 on cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex but promptly flash crashed by more than $1,000 in a matter of minutes. At the time of writing, the bitcoin price was trading at approximately $7,200 as the market continues to sort out what the announcement means for the short-term trajectory of the flagship cryptocurrency.