With the disagreement between Bitcoin Core developers and Segwit2x supporters, perhaps it should be no surprise that some of the big names on both sides would be willing to make what amounts to a high-stakes bet. Roger Ver vs Charlie Lee is the overcard, but there are others involved too.
Charlie Lee, Ben Davenport, Alex Morcos, Tuur Demeester and Roger Ver have made a deal in which Team Charlie will each send Team Roger 250 Segwit2x bitcoins, and Roger Ver will send each of them 250 Segwit1x bitcoins. This deal is set to go through after the planned fork between the Segwit2x and Segwit1x versions of Bitcoin at block height 494,884.
With this deal being so heavily publicized on social media and forums like Bitcointalk, this could easily become a matter of who is going to blink first. If any party to this agreement fails to send the promised coins, then it could well be interpreted as meaning that the individual who flakes isn’t as confident in the fork he is backing as he pretended to be.
If all of them keep up their end of the bargain, it will be a good example to rest of us that there are leaders in the cryptocurrency community who are willing to back up their loudly stated opinions with cold, hard cash.
Most Mining Power Signaling For Segwit2x
With 85% of Bitcoin mining power signaling for Segwit2x, the most likely scenario at this moment in time is that the Bitcoin fork with Segwit2x will eventually become seen as the legitimate branch and Bitcoin Core (with Segwit) will fade into altcoin status. Say what you want about Roger Ver and his “contributions” to the Bitcoin Civil War, but this scenario means that he is most likely to win this bet at this moment in time.
What about the members of the Bitcoin community who aren’t members, though? Following some of the replies to Charlie Lee’s Tweet about the deal seemed to indicate that miners could go one way and ordinary users could go another.
For instance, Luke Dasjr tweeted, “Hardfork attempts automatically become an altcoin unless 100% of the COMMUNITY (not miners) go along with it. Miners are irrelevant to HFs.”
On the flip side, it would be difficult to call miners irrelevant unless we want to go back to the days when early adopters could mine Bitcoin on their laptop. Others quite reasonably argued that it was unlikely that either fork would get 100% of community support and it was going to become a matter of how many community supporters that each side could convince to continue using their version of Bitcoin.
“What happens when 51% of the community go with the hard fork? And do you not consider miners a part of the community?” asked the Twitter user going by the handle of @spm4313.
Many users may well jump over to the Segwit2x fork if and when they see that it gets overwhelming support from miners. They’ll want to stick with what Bitcoin’s technical specifications say the legitimate chain is. This, of course, depends on how businesses that accept Bitcoin payments are likely to react.
What Will Retailers Do?
The current hard fork situation could lead to the exceptionally confusing scenario in which ordinary users are using one fork and businesses are using another. Many users will have joined the community because they believe that Bitcoin is more useful than PayPal and credit cards for making payments online and they will get frustrated if they try to pay for a purchase but the business is using the “wrong” Bitcoin fork.
Confusing the issue further is the fact that Roger Ver has invested in BitPay, which means that BitPay could split things down the middle if Coinbase comes down on the other side of the divide. The only thing that’s clear from BitPay’s blog is that it initially had no plans to integrate Bitcoin Cash, and then recently announced that it had a beta release for its plans to integrate Bitcoin Cash as part of its CoPay wallet. This seems to make it rather obvious that Roger Ver still has influence with BitPay.
This issue is where the signatories of this particular trade agreement are taking the real risk: no matter the result of Roger Ver vs Charlie Lee, how many people will abandon anything with the Bitcoin stamp on it if they suddenly don’t know where they can spend their bitcoins because some businesses have gone with Segwit1x and others went with Segwit2x? How many users will jump over to Segwit2x if they see that it’s starting to win out in an epic hashrate battle between the two forks?
Will the bitcoin community even be around long enough to care about what percentage of users jump to Segwit2x if a significant percentage of users either jump to another cryptocurrency or abandon cryptocurrencies altogether?
It wouldn’t surprise me if a predictions market similar to Predictious enabled the ability to bet on which party will benefit the most from the Roger Ver vs Charlie Lee Grudge Match. Or which party is most likely to flake on the deal.
The real issue here is which Bitcoin fork is likely to become seen as the legitimate one from both the perspective of a technical system that will regard the fork with the most hashing power as valid, and the perspective of a community with members who aren’t involved in mining but want to stick with the system that is most useful to them personally.
Whatever the result of our Epic Bitcoin Smackdown, Roger Ver vs Charlie Lee will likely end up a footnote: a battle fought in a much larger and more important war.