Editorial 18 November 2018Jasmine Solana
‘Think about the game being played here’: Jimmy Nguyen tells the truth about Bitcoin BCH hash war
Last November 15, during the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) network upgrade, a hash war has been fought with miners voting between two competing implementations of the BCH protocol—Bitcoin SV and Bitcoin ABC.
As expected, Bitcoin ABC took a temporary early lead, thanks to an artificial burst from “rented” hash power subsidized by Roger Ver’s Bitcoin.com, which announced that it would use pool customer hash from the Bitcoin Core (BTC) network onto the BCH chain for 24 hours, as well as from ABC’s main supporter Bitmain Technologies.
The hash war, however, is far from over. Bitcoin SV’s strongest supporters, CoinGeek and nChain, are committed to a long term fight using their legitimate, sustained hash—long after Bitmain can no longer afford to bleed money for rented hash.
On November 17, nChain CEO Jimmy Nguyen appeared on Keyport’s live stream coverage of the Bitcoin BCH hash war to speak the truth, as well as explain to the BCH community the consequences of their willingness to accept a burst of rented hash to quickly decide the hash war. And to those who are out there on social media, cheering for the supposed ABC victory, Nguyen posed this question: Is this the precedent we want to set for the Bitcoin Cash community?
Read the full transcript of Jimmy Nguyen’s Keyport speech below.
TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES ABOUT THE ONGOING BITCOIN CASH HASH WAR
Jimmy Nguyen – CEO, nChain Group
Since the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) network upgrade on November 15, a hash war has been fought with miners voting between Bitcoin SV and Bitcoin ABC – two competing implementations of the BCH protocol. nChain and CoinGeek support Bitcoin SV. As we fully expected, Bitcoin ABC appeared to take a temporary early lead by receiving an artificial burst from temporary, “rented” hash power subsidized by Roger Ver’s company Bitcoin.com, which announced it would move its pool customer hash from the rival Bitcoin Core (BTC) network onto the BCH blockchain for just 24 hours, and from ABC’s main supporter Bitmain Technologies.
Many observers have quick to prematurely call a win for Bitcoin ABC. But the hash war is not over. nChain and CoinGeek continue to fight, mining with our legitimate, sustained hash committed to support the Bitcoin Cash network and the Satoshi Vision. For days before the hard fork, Bitcoin SV had support from over 75% of the network hash.. Knowing they clearly did not have enough support to win, Bitcoin ABC’s backers had to rent and subsidize BTC hash to move onto BCH to use as voting power. When they can no longer to afford to pay massive daily amounts to rent hash for this BCH hash war, we will still be here fighting, and the consistent hash power supporting Bitcoin SV will overtake Bitcoin ABC. That is the inevitable result of this BCH hash war
On November 17, I appeared on Keyport’s live stream coverage of the BCH hash war to provide my views and a statement to the Bitcoin Cash community about “Truth and Consequences” of their willingness to accept a burst of rented hash to quickly decide the hash war. This is a transcript of my speech, edited for clarity.
I’m about to tell you truth and consequences. These are the truth and consequences for the Bitcoin Cash community of what’s happening in this hash war.
So the weekend went exactly as I expected. There was the fork on Thursday, November 15; there was a huge burst of hash that came into the network on the side of Bitcoin ABC that was rented or subsidised— probably from the BTC network, in order to artificially boost the support for Bitcoin ABC far higher than it had ever been in the days and weeks coming up to the hard fork.
Then the Bitcoin ABC supporters decided to declare early victory, because they seemed so far ahead in hash. Then they started going to the exchanges, if not even before the hard fork. (I think they did look before to try and get them to recognise their chain as Bitcoin Cash (BCH).
They added checkpoint—not a surprise, our developers heard about that a week ago.
So everything that happened is exactly as I predicted, and we’re continuing to plug away.
And people are probably wondering why we didn’t bring more hash in to support the Bitcoin SV side of the coin. Let me explain why. We actually had plenty of petahash offered to us; in fact, we actually didn’t have to go ask any miners or mining pools to lend us their hash.
Before and after the BCH Miners Choice Summit on November 2nd that CoinGeek sponsored and which I attended, we had a potential deal for thousands of petahash —to be rented and subsidised by us much like, I’m sure, Bitmain and Roger Ver were doing in some capacity or variation. While I was at that summit, we had thousands more petahash offered to us to rent, by people who just did not like Bitmain, opposed the Bitcoin ABC implementation, or wanted to support us for all kinds of reasons.
I could have walked away from that day with easily ten to fifteen thousand petahash worth of support for Bitcoin SV. And it’s not for lack of money or resources that we decided not to do it because Calvin Ayre, CoinGeek and nChain could have easily afforded to do that for as long as it took during this battle, and we would have blown the Bitcoin ABC side out of the water, at least compared to the hash that they have demonstrated so far in the charts you can see. But I actually had a realization at that moment in Hong Kong about whether that was the right thing to do; and I decided it was not, because of the consequences it would have in the future for the Bitcoin Cash community. And here’s what they are:
The whole reason that such hash was available on the BTC network to move onto BCH is because the people who should have fought Bitcoin Core did not, and splintered off to create the Bitcoin Cash network, and allowed BTC to continue on. That’s perfectly fine. But now they’re borrowing hash, renting it, subsidizing it from the very network they so vehemently oppose—many of them – to try and claim a victory on the BCH network.
I want you to think about the hypocrisy of that, because it’s staggering. I also want you to think about the game that is being played here, if you are able to just move hash for a day or two from the rival network that many of our community do not like, and use that to claim victory. What does it say about what you would do just to win what looks to many people right now like a sporting contest.
In addition, I want people to know that I thought long and hard about what should be the governing model to decide disagreement between rule sets for Bitcoin – because that’s what this is, that’s what’s really being tested in this moment right now. It’s not just about a particular feature set here or there. It’s about what should be the governing model when there are disagreements.
And think about this: when the Nakamoto Consensus was written in the Bitcoin white paper, there was supposed to only be one Bitcoin network. There was not supposed to be miners on a network running the same hash algorithm that you could pay to rent their hash to come in and vote in a disagreement over rule sets. Instead, the Bitcoin network as we know it, this whole system, it’s magic is in its economic incentives. Miners have incentives to provide the computing power and security of the network; they earn block rewards, they earn transaction fees, they have the investment and monetary interest therefore to make decisions on rule sets that best continue that economic incentive and the security of the network.
But if you are not mining on the network and don’t have your own investment in it, and you are not making money on this network but making it over on BTC, why is it that you should have a vote for the rule set for Bitcoin Cash, particularly when it is hash borrowed from the very network that Bitcoin Cash was designed to split off from?
So the Nakamoto Consensus is being tested for the first time right now, and I want you to really think about that. Obviously, Satoshi Nakamoto could not have envisioned, at the time the white paper was written, that there was going to be some splintered-off network using the same hash algorithm. And with the idea of one CPU equals one vote, or miner hash power equals the vote, it was designed—and I’m sure most logical people can agree with it—to recognise that the people who have an ongoing continuous invested interest in the network are the ones that should vote on a rule set.
But what has happened over this weekend is that the supporters of ABC have been so quick to come forward, and say, after a day or two of hash bursts provided by Roger Ver and his company Bitcoin.com’s move of hash from his customers from BTC over to BCH – and I’m sure move of BTC hash by Bitmain and other sources – after one or two days of bursts, they are so quick to declare, therefore they must be the winner.
But we took an alternate path. And as you can now probably understand why Craig Wright and Calvin Ayre have been so repeatedly vocal about the need for genuine and legitimate sustained hash that supports the network. We made the decision to fight with genuine honest hash. And that is why, if you notice, over the days leading up to the hard fork., the CoinGeek, SVPool, and BMG pools started gradually increasing the hash they were devoting to the network.
That was done for a reason. It wasn’t just an all-in burst to vote on the day of the hard fork. It was designed to demonstrate continued commitment to sustain this network and a desire to show the world we are going to continue using that hash on this network. It wasn’t a flash in the pan.
And so the situation that has unfolded this weekend is basically akin to saying: I want to have an election in the United States, and I don’t think I have enough votes, so I’m going to go pay people from Canada to come to the US for a day, vote, and leave—even those people who have no interest in the outcome of that election; it does not affect their lives, their livelihood, what pocket of money they get to pay their bills. That is what the people on the ABC side of the fence have just created: the idea that you can do that and that you can do that every time there’s a disagreement over the rule set.
So I really want people to think about what kind of system you want to decide consensus rule disagreements in the future for Bitcoin. Is it who can pay the most for one or two days to rent hash from a competing rival network that you escaped from? Or is it the votes of the miners who are ongoing providers of sustained hash, because they have an ongoing economic interest in the network?
And you saw the numbers in the days before the fork: it was clear the SV side of was demonstrating on a daily basis—for multiple days—far more than majority support from the network.
I believe that should be the governing model for Bitcoin consensus rule decisions. I also want everyone out there in the community to think about the consequences for the future. IF you are so quick to say that ABC should be declared the victor and awarded the BCH ticker symbol, and its consensus rules should govern, you’ve just walked into a bigger problematic box that I knew you would. Because I knew this would all happen; it’s all unfolded on Twitter and online. You’ve just provided the playbook for a big corporation with really big pockets, a state actor of government, anyone who could afford to pay for just one or two days of rented hash, to come over to the BCH network and get its rule set implemented.
Now that may not be nefarious; it could be Google, IBM, or Microsoft, who are very interested in blockchain technology, and they want to shape the Bitcoin Cash network with rules that favor their business model. This may be perfectly legitimate, and some people may support it. But I know many of you out there in the Bitcoin community would say: “well, wait a minute, I don’t want some big corporations just coming to pay, to take over the rule set of my network.” It would not cost that much —20 or 30 million dollars could have bought them a victory in a day or two according to what all the people screaming and cheering for ABC want to see happen.
A state actor could do that easily, that’s a drop in the bucket. And if you continue this path where you say “AHA!” after a day or two with bursts of hash that did not exist before and were just taken from the BTC network, if that is the way to determine the rule set, you have just set up the biggest vulnerability ever to the Bitcoin Cash network: for someone with a deep pocket to come in and implement whatever rule set they want.
And for those of you who aren’t a big fan of big corporations and government – you know who you are out there in the Bitcoin Cash community – I think you need to sit back and think: what have I just done? Because that’s what I thought, and this is exactly what I knew was going to happen. I sat there in Hong Kong, and I had all these offers of hash that we could have taken, and we could have used it to quickly win. But I had a moment where I had to say: I had a moment to say, is this the precedent we want to set for the Bitcoin Cash community? That anyone who has a deep pocket to pay for hash for a day or two, who doesn’t have to mine the day before – such as a government, a big corporation who could be a zero miner the day before – to just pay enough miners enough money on a hard-fork date to have enough hash to have its rule set take over?
That’s exactly the situation you are creating now for all of those who are out there on social media and online, cheering for a supposed ABC victory. That’s all you think it takes. But that’s not what it should be, and that’s not what it was envisioned to be at a time when the white paper was introduced to the world with the idea that there was just going to be a single Bitcoin network with a single network of miners who all had an economic incentive and interest to mine that network, and therefore make the best decisions for the viability and vibrancy of that network.
I’ll close by saying that that’s the truth I wanted the Bitcoin community to realise and the consequences of the path you’re trying to take. At nChain and on behalf of the CoinGeek people who are somewhere else, I want to say—and if it’s not clear already—we’re very committed with the SV project to really advance the Satoshi Vision. Obviously, some people have a different interpretation of it; that’s okay, but if there’s one thing we’ve been consistent about time and time again—we want the original Bitcoin. We want to see it grow to what it was meant to be. You can disagree with us about what feature set it should be, what block cap size, about anything else. But there is one thing we consistently work on, day in and day out. You don’t have to like Craig, but it’s very clear that is his mission and vision, and it’s ours as well. And that vision has to be enforced by a pure understanding of what Nakamoto Consensus should be: loads of miners who have an economic interest day in and day out—not people who can be mercenaries, who are rented to come in and allow anyone, any corporation or state actor, to take over your network.
To some people out there who are cheering for an ABC victory after a day or two: I want you to think long and hard about what you just did, if that’s the result you want. Because you’re not going to like it—the hypocrisy, I think, is staggering for where Bitcoin Cash came from. . . from Bitcoin Core.
So it’s time for this community to make a choice, to make a choice about how you want disagreements to be decided, and how you want to allow the ruleset for your chain to be governed.
I know what choice I’m going to make, and it’s a choice that supports the Satoshi Vision. I’m going to leave now, because I have a lot of work to do to support that vision.
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.
Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV) is today the only Bitcoin project that follows the original Satoshi Nakamoto whitepaper, and that follows the original Satoshi protocol and design. BSV is the only public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin and will massively scale to become the world’s new money and enterprise blockchain.
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