I am utterly fascinated by the recent, furious emergence of “Bitcoin Cash.”
For the unfamiliar, it’s a so-called fork of the original Bitcoin cryptocurrency that launched earlier this week and sent crypto-investors into a tizzy, trading the virtual coins up to hundreds of dollars each. At the time of this writing, one unit of Bitcoin Cash is valued at about $425—an impressive sum for something that’s existed for all of two and a half days.
Like a world religion, Bitcoin Cash was created from conflict—a rift in the original Bitcoin community over technical details pertaining to the structure of the digital currency’s underlying technology, the blockchain. And like a religion, the Bitcoin Cash splinter faction was immediately rejected by the establishment—in this case by Coinbase, the largest Bitcoin exchange on the planet.
You can almost picture a Bitcoin Cash enthusiast—call him Martin Luther—posting his 95-point screed to a cryptocurrency message board. “Out of love for the truth and from desire to profit from it!” he writes with zeal, punctuating the sentiment with a GIF of Aziz Ansari as the Parks and Recreation character Tom Haverford making it rain.
Bitcoin Cash’s emergence hasn’t eroded support for the original Bitcoin. Indeed, one Bitcoin is worth about $2,760 at the moment, more than its value a week and a month ago. Investors and technologists alike sense opportunity in the schism. (Look no further than the Chicago Board Options Exchange, which plans to launch its own bitcoin derivatives trading products next year, and the rabid interest in initial coin offerings, or ICOs.) Cryptocurrency, long the domain of hustlers and dealers, is growing into a legitimate enterprise. The original Bitcoin, launched in 2009, was merely the first chapter.
To which digital currency denomination will you be faithful? For me, it’s still far too early to tell—but I’ve never been an early adopter of technology. A reformation is clearly underway in the crypto-community. Which doctrine(s) win out, well, that’s up to you to decide.
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