In 2017 we experienced the birth of many new cryptocurrencies that were created by a fork on Bitcoin’s Blockchain. Bitcoin Cash was the first one that was introduced in August, then Bitcoin Gold followed in October and finally Bitcoin Diamond in November.
At a high level, a fork is an event when a rules’ change forces the Blockchain to split; the original that pre-existed and the new one, which is the genesis of a new cryptocurrency. When a change is proposed (as Bitcoin is open source), users are required to “vote” on the new rules, by updating the clients. If the proposed changes do not achieve the majority’s consensus, a fork will occur. The upvoters will shift over the new Blockchain, and the downvoters will continue on the existing one. Similarly, if the vast majority agrees on the changes, the original Blockchain will adopt the new rules and the minority will either be forced to update or will be hard forked to a new Blockchain.
All the announced forks on Bitcoin, claim to be important improvements, usually addressing scalability and speed issues of the original Blockchain. However, as most of the new cryptocurrencies have many similarities (e.g., Smart Contracts, new block size, Lightning Network, PoS method), it is doubtful if the world needs all of them.
As fraudulent activities are, in many cases, hidden behind such projects, users should be very cautious when choosing a new Bitcoin derivative. Bitcoin Platinum is a typical example of such a scam of a young Korean, who created the fork in order to profit from Bitcoin’s price drop. Furthermore, developers provide Bitcoin users a number of shares to the new currency; hence hard forks are frequently seen as money-making schemes.
It is said that more than 50 Bitcoin forks are expected to happen this year. A few notable Bitcoin forks to be seen in 2018, are the following:
Took place on December 12th, 2017, with a fork on block 498888. BitcoinX will implement Smart Contracts in the Bitcoin Blockchain.
Took place on December 12th, 2017, with a fork on block 498888. Super Bitcoin increases the block size to 8MB (like Bitcoin Cash) and uses Smart Contracts.
Block 499999 was forked on December 23rd, 2017. LBTC increases block size to 2MB and uses the Delegated Proof-of-Stake method. Additionally, it enables DAPPs to be built on its Blockchain, by utilizing Smart Contracts.
Without pre-mine and set to fork at block 501225, GOD will have the same cap as Bitcoin (21 million). Except for a tweet and a WeChat post by its creator, Chandler Guo, there isn’t any additional information available.
Expected to launch on December 31st, 2017, BUM is not pre-mined, it reduces the block time to one minute and adopts SegWit. Mining will be ASIC-resistant, and the block reward will be set to halve every 450 days.
Set to launch on January 2nd, 2018, BCP forks at Block 501407. It uses the Equihash algorithm to prevent mining centralization and increases the block size to 8MB. Moreover, it utilizes the Emergency Difficulty Adjustment, enabling miners to switch between BTC and BCP network, while protecting the Blockchain from hashing instabilities.
It was set to launch in December 2017, with the block-to-be-forked remaining unknown. BTCS adopts SegWit while reducing the block size to 1MB and the block time to 30 seconds. Details about the development team are still unclear.
Other important Bitcoin hard forks in 2018 are: Bitcoin Diamond (BCD), Bitcoin Top (BTT), Bitcoin SegWit2x (B2X), Bitcoin Interest (BCI), Bitcoin Atom (BCA), Bitcoin VOTE (BTV), Bitcoin Pay (BTP), Bitcoin New (BTN), Bitcoin Faith (BTF), Fast Bitcoin (FBTC).