Bitcoin has been steadily devaluing. In fact, most of the major cryptocurrencies on earth are also losing steam. Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, Steem, and even Dash are suffering. In some cases losses have exceeded 25% in less than a week.
Is it the end of an era or a readjustment period? A shakeout, if you will?
Many have debated why, as bitcoin dips, does it seem to initiate a larger scale downward trend throughout the cryptosphere. Each time bitcoin sneezes, crypto in general, catches a cold. Today — this week — bitcoin has the flu.
Some have pointed to alleged “Civil War” between the Bitcoin Core Team and the Bitcoin miners as the culprit. Primarily, the accusations are being leveled against the miners who control most of the network. The Chinese.
There is also some bickering within the Bitcore Core Team itself. But the idea that all of the planned changes — the proposed updates — to the code, will cause a rift is also on the debate table. A debate about a potential bitcoin fork — a split of its blockchain. Or perhaps users will use another blockchain. (I will get to that in a moment.)
Let’s face it, most bitcoin users, investors, watchers, writers — do not give a bleep about large conglomerates of miners who are churning out bitcoins and making a tidy profit. They are charging the community for the privilege of using a peer-to-peer system, allegedly designed to reduce the financial friction between willing parties. That is now history. The price of doing bitcoin business is becoming more expensive to the small consumer. Still, aside from the slow processing times, sending large amounts of bitcoin internationally, is cheaper than using the antiquated banking systems of today. In other words, bitcoin seems to be helping those with lots of bitcoin. Not a good sign.
Many of us do care that the Bitcoin Core Team is working to keep the code “bug-free” and that they are attempting to update the system. However, they are not dictators. They do not have the final say. The community must accept the updates. The users of the system are voluntary. If they do not accept the changes — if the miners feel cheated by the prospect of having their profits reduced — we could see a fork. And this could mean the destruction of the most successful private money that has ever existed — maybe.
Such a thing would not only evaporate the wealth housed within the blockchain, but potentially all of the investments tied to the bitcoin ecosystem — worldwide. From ATM’s in Vegas to the Mom and Pop Dress Shops in Morocco. All of that seed money, those start-ups, YouTube preachers — you name it. Adrift in the cosmos of bankruptcy. It would be painful for some.
Is there a silver lining to all of this?
Antpool, the largest bitcoin mining operation on earth, does not want the updates offered by Core — “SegWit.” Bitcoin Core is pushing ahead anyway. It is a Goliath versus Samson battle — all over again. Core holds the sling (the keys to the original code) but Antpool can simply copy the code. If the Antpool Goliath does this, will anyone trust him? Actually, the last I read — and info can be sketchy here — Antpool had a back-up plan. They started mining Bitcoin Unlimited a few months ago. (That’s another story, but suffice it to say it solves many of the problems associated with the current version of bitcoin.)
Philosophical battles aside, the concerns over whether bitcoin (or any cryptocurrency) must decide between the corporate world and somebody’s idea of traditional capital is a red herring. Any money ought to be neutral in that sense, if the developers/community so decide. And therein lies the problem. Any community of anything is going to debate, endlessly. Although, I am not speaking in support of Dash, their governance model does have advantages.
In any event, the fireworks begin in just a few days — July 21, 2017. If 80% of the bitcoin community adopts the updates — SegWit — all should be fine. On the other hand, if the community does not adopt the updates, it is likely that an alternative solution might be employed on August 1, 2017. That is the idea of a “soft fork” employing SegWit as user activated “choice.” By then, Antpool may be off the reservation — employing Bitcoin Unlimited. The tension is palpable.
Let’s add more fuel to that fire, shall we dear readers?
CNBC put out a panic article recently and it does have some rather prescient information. Namely, that the Bitcoin.org community has recommended that everyone — every user of bitcoin — take a “bank holiday” a few days before the proposed changes are to take place. Say on Friday, July 19, 2017 — you know — just to be on the safe side. Did you catch that? Turn off your bitcoin wallets. Now I’m as brave as the next guy, but don’t get between me and my cash. And yet, major players are notifying bitcoin users that they are doing just that. No deposits or withdrawals? No trading for a few days? Be prepared.
Do you know what happens during bank holidays? Panic. Users might find a substitute. Certainly trust will be eroded.
Hence, bitcoin is devaluing. People are cashing out. Waiting on the sidelines.
Now if you are confused, you should be. Hour by hour, bitcoin is still loosing ground. As of this writing, the price of one bitcoin just dropped below $2000, then popped up again. That is over a 30% value reduction in just over a month. Coming from just over $570 each last August (2016), which is amazing in itself, anyone holding the coin, if the blockchain forks, could be left holding thin air.
As some have put it, we are witnessing, once again, a sea of red. Let’s just hope that the entire thing does not go “bleeps up.”
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Thanks for reading. If you have any input, let me know in the comments section below.
(Oh, and thanks RK.)