The funny thing about protocol wars is that in hindsight, the winner seems so obvious. I previously wrote about the long term protocol wars between VHS and Betamax, Blu Ray and HD-DVD and a few others—illustrating the value of setting protocols in stone so that the economy can flourish atop a valuable foundation.
But what if we could adjust our lens to see into the future? Can we analyze what makes the winners so obvious in hindsight? Much like Bitcoin, these protocol wars raged for years. Blu Ray discs, for example, were not necessarily the best technology in every granular regard. HD-DVD had the “DVD” brand, first product to market and support from Toshiba. It also had distribution licenses from a few major movie studios, but Blu Ray won anyways! The Blu Ray Disc Association procured stronger licensing, business partnerships and market posture. Sony’s PS3 (the real Trojan horse in this particular format war), as well as the highest mix of valuable technology, allowed them to consume the market share of HD-DVD until they just disappeared.
In business and investment valuation, the first line of discovery must be centered on “key differentiators.” For a non-contentious example, there is a reason the world has not changed the hand-held umbrella for generations now. Minor tweaks, maybe, but the fundamental design rings true because the key differentiators are unshakable. There is no way to improve the base design of an umbrella that does not compromise some other critical point of value to the point of failure—so its protocol is set in stone. Here is the crucial point: the market set the umbrella in stone because from a utilitarian perspective, it is perfect.
This is the lesson that very few people are able to grasp in the Bitcoin (and broader distributed ledger) debate that many think is still on-going. For complete clarity, Bitcoin SV (BSV) has already won the protocol war. Every other blockchain is just coasting on previous success or fueled by an artificial hype cycle.
Original #Bitcoin #BSV has NO competition. It scales massively today and no other platform can. This means BSV has won the protocol wars and will soon dominate ALL other metrics. Welcome to the application wars ??
— Calvin Ayre (@CalvinAyre) October 26, 2019
So what are Bitcoin SV’s key differentiators?
UTXO vs Account-Based Global State
Bitcoin uses the “unspent transaction output” (UTXO) model of accounting for the ledger, while blockchains like Ethereum utilize an account-based model. In short, the Bitcoin UTXO model is very simple to account for, and it allows massive parallelization of processing across the network. Complex functions can be pushed to the stack of available scripts which allow various types of virtual machines to function on top of transactions, but the base protocol layer is very simple and clean to settle—especially when transactions are malleable and unconfirmed transactions can be trusted to settle without being double spent.
This is crucial: the bitcoin UTXO model allows reorganization of blocks to have little to no weight in the settlement of unconfirmed transactions or the state of applications running in script.
Therefore, a closely connected, UTXO-based, small world network like Bitcoin SV, never hits a scaling ceiling. Speed and reliability will improve indefinitely as miners cooperate more closely with shared mempool management standards and increased containerization of node functions.
On the other hand, Ethereum (and many other blockchains like it) utilize an account-based system that is far less flexible, less scalable, and more prone to breakdown. Every new block must be settled on every single node to confirm the consensus of the entire global state. Rather than utilizing script atop a simple protocol, the entire Ethereum network is one big computer. It was designed from the ground up to utilize a non-standardized programming language called “Solidity” in order to deploy a largely untested Turing-complete state machine to the world.
The global state model creates many problems
Poorly written smart contracts can cause breakdown of the entire network because of the interconnectedness of all states of the machine. Bugs in smart contracts, multisignature wallets, dapps and other parts of the Ethereum ecosystem have made for large scale theft, permanent hard fork splits of the network and a host of other catastrophes. The exponential complexity of Ethereum compared to bitcoin has also allowed talented hackers to work their way across dapps and steal staked ETH from smart contracts by moving laterally across the network.
On top of the security and complexity issues for deployment, the biggest burden on Ethereum is that complex computations take time, and therefore Ethereum has a very low ceiling of scalability. As such, the introduction of proposals for “sharding” “proof of stake” “Ethereum 2.0” and “Plasma Network” have been floating around for years, but there is little evidence that any of these proposals are anything more than vaporware.
In short, the UTXO model is nimble and secure, while the account or global state model is cumbersome and prone to multiple vulnerabilities.
So Ethereum can’t scale, but why is Bitcoin SV better than other UTXO chains?
This is going to sound tragically simple, but Bitcoin SV is the only project in the history of UTXO blockchains to be brave enough to take the training wheels off. While every other blockchain is ruled by developers endlessly debating theories, the BSV Genesis protocol removed nearly every single limitation of the software to facilitate boundless scale as a data carrier and payments network with more superlatives than any other chain.
• No Block Size Limit: The only limit to the number of transactions per block is the ingenuity of miners to attempt to mine and propagate blocks to the network.
• Higher Data Limits: Data per block is unbounded, and the data per transaction is best-in-class too!
• Network Topology: Nodes are miners, and any node that is not contributing more than it is taking from the network will get kicked off eventually. Incentives choose which nodes thrive, and the only nodes that thrive are those that cooperate best with the network by bringing the hardest competition. Every other network has an altruistic view of nodes, and that altruism signals their doom.
• World Class Development: Rather than giving the code to everyone on earth to tinker with on GitHub, Bitcoin SV is developed professionally by the Bitcoin SV Node Team in coordination with nChain and CoinGeek Mining. Furthermore, code audits are not mired by years of low-value debate, but handed from the Bitcoin SV Node Team to professionals like Trail of Bits to do paid security audits. The code is published as open source for transparency, but the development and testing phase is purely professional.
• The nChain Patent Portfolio: nChain owns over 200 granted, 800 filed and 1400+ patents in the pipeline; making them the #1 intellectual property owner in the blockchain space. These patents can be used in court against infringing competitors in the future.
• Legal Compliance: Bitcoin SV is the only chain in compliance with the protocols of the bitcoin white paper without encumbrances or compliance issues in regard to laws pertaining to digital signatures, currency issuance, securities/equities and other regulations around token issuance and proof of work.
Meanwhile, there are fewer than ten other actively developed UTXO blockchains in the top 50 coins by market cap. The other projects have either cultural problems or technical problems (most have both) that have led to roadblocks which have knocked them out of the running for use as a world class payments or data carrier tool.
Best examples of ‘competitors’
• BTC Core only allows about six megabytes of data per hour across the network. The scripting language has been truncated and transaction malleability has been removed. As such, BTC is not even attempting to compete in this arena, so it is not a consideration for data or payment usage at a useful scale. By default, Litecoin also fails on this front as it is a very closely developed sister project to Bitcoin Core. It is a common axiom for people to refer to BTC as “gold” and LTC as “silver,” and as such, the economies around both projects are not interested in much more than the speculative asset price.
• The Lightning Network is hailed as the solution du jour to all of BTC and LTC’s scaling woes, but there are so many problems that they are hard to parse down. In short, Lightning Network reintroduces multiple sybil attack surfaces and the Byzantine Generals Problem. It also has multiple game theory issues as there is no profit motive to run a node. Participation in the Lightning Network either requires an unusual amount of trust or a high water mark of technical prowess and infrastructural investment – again without profit motive. Furthermore, all Lightning nodes are likely money transmitters which require licensing and insurance to operate legally which is unfeasible because – for the third time – there is no profit motive inherent in participating in Lightning Network. As such, Lightning Network is not really a competitor to Bitcoin SV and introduces no competitive advantages to BTC or LTC.
• BCH was a promising project for about a year, but the introduction of Canonical Transaction Ordering (CTOR) and Schnorr Signatures has removed its functionality as a reliable timestamp server and bitcoin-style chain of digital signatures. With the further loss of malleability, many of its capabilities in higher level deployment of applications is also reduced. The developers replaced some of those functions with new Op_codes that work differently, but the use-cases have been very specifically targeted at payment functions, and the Bitcoin Cash community has eschewed anything to do with data services. The developers from Bitcoin ABC (the de facto reference implementation of Bitcoin Cash) have also ceased nearly all research into parallelized processing and block size scaling, and instead have created a rift with Bitcoin Unlimited and Bitcoin.com. This has led to little more than Bitcoin Cash’s culture being defined primarily by discord and bickering, so it is hard to estimate where the project is even attempting to move long term.
• The other UTXO-based blockchains in the top 100 by market cap are probably not worth mentioning—so I won’t.
What about EOS, Tron or the other smart contract platforms?
The superlatives inherent in these platforms must most often be tempered against the fact that consensus is chosen by an oligarchy that printed their token out of thin air. Tron, for example, is almost completely centralized in the hands of their controversial CEO Justin Sun. Meanwhile, EOS has reversible transactions because of their DPoS governance model and use of a sort of “supreme court” that can go back and choose new rules by decree. IOTA introduces ternary (instead of binary) code, and pushes all transactions through a central validator node called “the coordinator,” and there are a million things to lambaste about Ripple and Stellar’s emission and consensus models controlled almost entirely by their internal corporate “validators.”
So who is competing with Bitcoin SV?
This is going to be a hard, red pill for “ThE bLoCkChAiN cOmMuNiTy” to insert, but the only real competitors for Bitcoin SV are a mix of the global payment networks, data carriers and cloud computing platforms. It’s true: Bitcoin SV has leveled up to the point where its only competitors are the big players competing alongside Visa, Mastercard, Verizon, Comcast, Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS.
Every other blockchain is mired in a scaling war, governance fiasco or has some other deep, fundamental flaw with its culture or technical architecture. As such, Bitcoin SV should not be grouped in as a “blockchain project” in perpetual beta mode. Rather, Bitcoin SV should be analyzed uniquely as a world-class, emergent business tool on the cusp of revolutionizing data and money transfer for the global economy.
Any other key differentiators?
Of course! Bitcoin SV has some of the most unique and insightful tools being built atop it by talented developers utilizing the unique properties of the blockchain.
Planaria Corp, Twetch, HandCash, Moneybutton, UNISOT and many others have flocked to the first blockchain that rewards them for their tenacity! Long dead are the days of debating who is allowed to transact on-chain because Bitcoin SV is designed to handle everything that can be thrown at it.
But, the most important differentiator, and the thing that enables all of this grandeur, is the fixed protocol. Bitcoin SV is set in stone with unlimited scaling abilities. What that means for businesses is that they can rely on the blockchain not to break or shift beneath them. This is why we have seen a mass exodus of entrepreneurs come to Bitcoin SV from Ethereum, EOS, Tron and elsewhere. It is also why global businesses seeking reduced transaction friction and increased data integrity are taking a look at the first “finished” blockchain as a commodity ledger and enterprise business tool.
You might not know it yet, but we have already won.
New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.