Which is Bitcoin?

Part of the debate between bitcoin and bitcoin cash (BCH) is a debate about the name. Many in the anti-BCH camp claim that BCH is a scam because it uses bitcoin in the name. They call it BCash to deride it. But there is a very strong case that bitcoin cash is actually more bitcoin than bitcoin itself.

At the outset, bitcoin was designed to be “a peer to peer electronic cash system” it originally had no block size limit, and a 1mb limit was added in 2010. For most of its existence, because the actual block size was significantly below 1mb it didn’t serve as a functional limit. It was the equivalent of a $3 minimum wage in the US–there technically was a limit, but the actual limit was set by the market.

This past summer a feature called Segwit was added to bitcoin in a soft fork. I am still learning about Segwit, so certainly not an expert, but it changes the way transactions are recorded by removing individual witness signatures and is a fundamental change in the way bitcoin transactions work.

So you have two coins now, one with Segwit and a 1mb limit on block size that has caused massive transaction fees. This 1st coin claims to be digital gold, not electronic cash and is building so that most transactions take place off of the blockchain.

The second coin has a technical limit on transactions, but it is much higher than the average block so it is not a functional limit. This coin does not have Segwit, so transactions are the same as they have been in bitcoin since the beginning. It is designed to be peer to peer electronic cash and plans to develop so most transactions can go on the blockchain.

If you work up from a seven-year coma, and only had the technical specs to go on, you would likely guess that coin #2 is bitcoin. It is truer to bitcoin’s original form, but it is not bitcoin. If you believe that identity is based on form and purpose, then calling bitcoin cash, bitcoin makes a lot of sense.

This is just one aspect of the question of identity, but it is a fascinating example of a real-life Ship of Theseus situation, so I’ll dive deeper into it in future posts.

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