Bitcoin XT May End Up Splitting the Cryptocurrency Community

August 25, 2015         By: Asif Imtiaz

On August 15, Gavin Andresen, the Chief Scientist of Bitcoin Foundation, and the famous cryptocurrency developer, Mike Hearn, announced a new version of Bitcoin. It stirred up debate in the cryptocurrency community. Gavin Andresen and Mike Hearn are calling the new version the Bitcoin XT.

Bitcoin XT would enable the blockchain to accept blocks of data larger than 1 megabyte, which is not possible with the original Bitcoin blockchain. The blockchain is basically a public database of transaction records that all Bitcoin users can modify.

The problem with the original Bitcoin blockchain developed by Satoshi Nakamoto (a pseudonym) that it limited the size of the transaction block, which limited the number of transactions to only 3 to 7 per second. However, he probably did not think Bitcoin will become so popular that the users would start doing hundreds of transactions per second.

The new version of Bitcoin, the Bitcoin XT would effectively increase the support for blocks to 8 megabytes and enable users to conduct up to 24 transactions per second. Still, 24 transactions per second would be much lower compared to what major credit card companies like Visa and MasterCard are capable of doing.

Jeff Garzik, one of five Bitcoin core developers has said the slow transaction speed is the “roadblock to Bitcoin growth,” and wrote a paper explaining the problem with the existing technology.

While the advanced blockchain technology would dramatically help speed up Bitcoin transactions, the main concern seems to be gaining approval and trust from the Bitcoin community to accept the XT as the “new Bitcoin.”

Since the release of the original Bitcoin, there have been many cryptocurrencies. As of August 25, 2015, there were over 669 cryptocurrencies available to trade with. Some of these offers improved software architecture and have a strong user base.

Critics of Bitcoin XT say that the developers should just use a different name like other cryptocurrency systems, instead of trying to replace “Bitcoin.”

Even though the Bitcoin Foundation has played vital role in developing and popularizing the cryptocurrency, introducing a new blockchain may end up dividing the community. Furthermore, there is no “official” organization of this totally decentralized system and no one has the authority to “upgrade” the existing Bitcoin blockchain, critics say.