Quite abruptly, the coalition that had proposed a hard fork for mid-November sent a brief email on November 8 to call off the plan. The battle between members of the bitcoin community seems to have come to an end, although it's unclear whether the peace will last. For roughly three years, developers, miners, investors, and other bitcoin enthusiasts have engaged in acrimonious debate about how to allow the cryptocurrency network to process more transactions at once. One compromise that rose to prominence was a so-called "hard fork," which would divide the leading cryptocurrency into two competing blockchains. Perhaps predictably, there was significant backlash from some supporters of bitcoin, which led to the fork's cancellation. The big question is what will happen now.
SegWit2x Called Off in Favor of Community Unity
The debate over the so-called SegWit2x protocol (so named because it itself is a compromise between a solution referred to as SegWit and a hard fork which will increase the blockchain block size to 2 megabytes) has raged since May of this year. In an email sent by the lead developer last week and quoted by Forbes, the coalition that once backed the change indicated that "our goal has always been a smooth upgrade for bitcoin. Although we strongly believe in the need for a larger blocksize, there is something we believe is even more important: keeping the community together. 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. This was never the goal of SegWit2x."
In response to the news, the price of bitcoin soared to new highs of around $7,800.
Although the notice of the canceled plan was sent by a lead developer, the message was signed by a number of CEOs and prominent bitcoin experts who had previously spearheaded the SegWit2x effort. The cancelation also comes just days after CME announced that it would introduce bitcoin futures by the end of the year.
In the short term, it seems that this change of plan is beneficial for the strength of the bitcoin community, which itself is made up of a wide array of diverse interests and parties spread across the globe. However, it does not help to address the underlying concern which prompted the SegWit2x proposal in the first place: bitcoin still faces an issue scaling itself to meet the dramatically increased demand and transaction level that has been introduced in the past several years while the currency has gained momentum. It could be only a matter of time before that issue sparks a future divide among the members of the bitcoin community.