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One Bad Mother Forker: Exploring the Various Forks of Bitcoin

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A wise man once compared Bitcoin to the Model T Ford. The ancestor of the modern day automobile, the Model T lacked any safety features, was difficult to navigate, got horrible mileage and offered far less comfort than its modern day counterpart.

And just as the subsequent automobile models aimed to improve upon the flaws of the Model T, so do the various forks improve upon those of Bitcoin. A Bitcoin fork doesn’t need to have a lot in common with the original protocol. In fact, some forks can deviate greatly from Bitcoin and some can be merge-forks with other cryptocurrencies.

There are over two dozen or so Bitcoin forks to date, with more to come this year. This is by no means a comprehensive list. Frankly, not every single Bitcoin fork is worth writing about. Some will be only briefly mentioned. And the ones that are based on extraordinary projects or mass market adoption will be described in length.

The original fork BCH is also the most successful to date.

Since the forking of Bitcoin Cash (BCH) last year, by far the most well-known of all the Bitcoin forks, roughly 20 forks have been created. Though BCH is not trading anywhere near BTC, the comparison between the two coins is interesting, as illustrated at TX Highway, a live side-by-side representation of the two networks.

Bitcoin Gold (BTG)

The runner up for most well-known fork is Bitcoin Gold (BTG) has been designed with the little guy in mind. BTG employs the Equihash algorithm instead of Bitcoin’s SHA-256, This lowers the barrier to entry for mining because the algorithm is ASIC-resistant, meaning that specialized equipment like ASIC miners will not be able to mine the coin faster than the average laptop.. Their development team is also working on integrating smart contracts and the beta version of BTGPay, an e-commerce platform and debit card centered around the cryptocurrency.

Next down the line is Bitcoin Diamond (BCD). Though its name suggests the exact opposite, Bitcoin Diamond is neither rare or expensive, as it has a supply cap ten times that of Bitcoin and only trades for less than $10 each. The BCD Foundation insists that the larger max supply of BCD is intended to make mining it easier, thus lowering the bar to entry for small-time miners.

As the Bitcoin network becomes more congested with increasing trade volume, its 1MB block size limit and its block interval time of 10 minutes (that is, the average amount of time it takes for a new block to be found), creates a very obvious bottleneck resulting in higher transaction fees and longer confirmation times, bringing confirmation times to a grinding halt..

The skyrocketing network traffic led to confirmation times last year that took weeks and cost between $30 and $40 in miners fees.. Many of these forks have come into existence to offer a solution of their own to the sluggish design of the Bitcoin network.

It’s also important to consider the rate of emergency difficulty adjustment (EDA) in respect to the overall speed of a cryptocurrency. If hash power decreases significantly for a network and the difficulty for mining is based on when the network previously had more hash power, then it will take longer for the blocks to be mined, thus contributing to the speed or lack thereof for confirmation times. Bitcoin is designed to change its difficulty rate every two weeks, which can be a severe drag on speed if the rate of hash power fluctuates every day or even in a few hours. Interestingly enough, almost all of the forks will integrate or already integrated the Lightning Network.

Oil Bitcoin (OBTC)

Bitcoin SegWit 2X X11 (B2X)  has a block time of 2.5 minutes and a block limit of 4MB. Oil Bitcoin (OBTC) has a block time of 90 seconds, has a block size of 2MB and performs an EDA after every block. Bitcoin Silver (BTCS) has a block time of 30 seconds and an EDA after every block. Not to be outdone, Lightning Bitcoin (LBTC) has a block time of 3 seconds, a block size limit of 2 MB and no EDA.

Bitcoin Private (BTCP)

The public viewability of all Bitcoin transactions have raised concerns among privacy advocates for some time. Several forks like Bitcoin Private (BTCP), which is technically a merge fork between Z Classic and Bitcoin, attempt to address this flaw. Bitcoin Private employs zk-SNARK or zero-knowledge proofs to ensure that transactions can be fully encrypted on the blockchain, yet still be verified as valid. Otherwise, Bitcoin Private has all the other familiar aspects of the original protocol.

Super Bitcoin (SBTC) and BitcoinX are two forks that have integrated zero-knowledge proofs in their protocols.  Bitcoin Faith (BTF) is in the process of implementing zero-knowledge proofs proofs to shield their transactions from prying eyes. There’s even a debate currently going on whether or not to add zero-knowledge proofs to BCH.

A few Bitcoin forks are built around proposed innovations which, if successful could revolutionize cryptocurrency. One such fork is Bitcoin Atom (BCA), whose underlying technology is based on the theory of atomic swaps. This allows for the swapping of cryptocurrencies without the use of a trusted third party.

Bitcoin Atom (BCA) is based on atomic swap technology.

This proposed technology involves the use of smart contracts to make the exchange. The development team is working on BCA to be able to make atomic swaps with ten major cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ether, DASH and Litecoin with future implementations for all other ERC20 tokens.

Bitcoin Interest (BCI) offers users a sort of interest-bearing savings account for “parking” their coins in a specific wallet for a period of time and slowly accruing interest. Described as their “savings technology”,BCI blocks offer two rewards when mined, one reward for the miners and another smaller reward for users who hold their BCI in wallets they call “interest pools”. The theory is that crypto that is sitting in one place as opposed to being traded back and forth will reduce the overall volatility of the crypto market. If this technical innovation turns out to work, we just might be looking at the beginning of the end for traditional banking.

BitcoinFile (BIFI) integrates the Bitcoin network with the IPPFS protocol.

BitcoinFile (BIFI) bills itself as a blockchain-based point-to-point distributed file system. It integrates the Bitcoin protocol with that of the Interplanetary File system (IPFS), a file system  The coin’s blockchain should be fully integrated with the IPFS protocol by fall. Imagine cryptocurrency being transferred without access to the Internet! It would be akin to the first mammal crawling out of the ocean.

As the Bitcoin code base continues to evolve, one might wonder which forks will survive, which ones will wither away and perhaps even, which one will replace Bitcoin. It’s anyone’s guess at this point. The forking of Bitcoin may lead to something as revolutionary and groundbreaking as the invention of the blockchain itself.

OpenAlias: Mastering the Fine Art of Simple Privacy

When one thinks of Monero, the first thing they may think of is privacy. XMR has the reputation of being “the privacy coin”. But one thing Monero is not known for is simplicity. Even when engaging in something as basic as sending or receiving Monero, the addresses can be as long as 95 characters. The OpenAlias Project was created to simplify the transaction process for even the least crypto savvy user while adding yet another layer of privacy for both sender as well as recipient.

The public viewability of all transactions on a most blockchains is definitely one of the technology’s most well-known features. However, this feature can negate the anonymous nature of crypto if one’s address is tied to the identity of the owner, as is the case for many websites soliciting donations or sales via crypto.

A specific crypto address can be found to be associated with a specific person or organization. A good example of this is an address from an account on a crypto exchange that follows KYC regulations. Once an address is discovered to belong to a specific person or group, it can become possible to look up that address on that particular cryptocurrency’s blockchain explorer and determine how much coin has been transferred to or from that address.The identity of the initiator of a crypto transaction may also be determined by tracking the IP address on the merchants website.

The uniqueness of OpenAlias is that it is a TXT-DNS record on a fully-qualified domain name, thus taking full advantage of an existing infrastructure as opposed to building a new one from scratch. The alias for the impossible-to-remember crypto address is a domain name, and under the Domain Name system, there can only be one domain name of its kind.

In other words, there is only one as opposed to or, making the scenario in which one alias points to two different crypto addressees impossible. Other aliasing standards like having a password like “Dan123” or “givememoney” be (accidentally or intentionally) duplicated and point to more than one crypto wallet.

The average person who may be unfamiliar with cryptocurrency will have an easier time remembering the domain name of their favorite web site rather than a 95-character alphanumeric string.

While OpenAlias is the brainchild of the Monero Core Team, it can be configured to allow for the acceptance of any cryptocurrency. Although to date, the only known implementation has been for Monero and Bitcoin wallets. As time passses and the popularity of OpenAlias increases, implementations should emerge for other popular cryptocurrencies. Innovations like OpenAlias may one day make cryptocurrency as common among billions of people as email.

Accessing the Money of the Future with Technology of the Past

While most of us in the cryptosphere have a pretty good handle on the mechanics of cryptocurrency, the rest of the world is still scratching their heads over it. The widespread ignorance of cryptocurrency poses a huge impediment to its global adoption, especially in parts of the world where reliable access to the Internet and the availability of smartphones is not consistent. However, CoinText, a new crypto wallet service whose user interface runs on the SMS network may be the key to bridging that gap.

The functionality of Cointext is similar to many other automated SMS-based platforms one might use such as online banking and promotional campaigns. Anyone can generate a seed for a Cointext wallet by texting a valid command to one of the service’s access numbers. The user can then enter additional commands to check their balance, send and receive digital assets, and so on. Currently, the platform only supports Bitcoin Cash and all transactions are immediately settled on the BCH blockchain via Cointext’s proprietary algorithm to translate the SMS commands to post to the blockchain.. .

The US-based fintech company launched the beta version of its platform last month and currently only offers access numbers for six countries (the US,.Canada, Australia, South Africa, the UK, Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands). Users outside of these six countries are still able to use the service by texting one of those countries’ access numbers.

Cointext’s unique wallet differs from traditional mobile crypto wallets mainly because Its SMS-based platform makes the service accessible to users of older, more basic mobile phones regardless of whether the devices are connected to the Internet. Users can view their BCH address by texting RECEIVE to an access number and can send funds either in the amount of BCH or in the amount of five different fiat currencies.

Users’ BCH addresses are linked to their phone numbers which allows for users to send BCH to other Cointext users using only the recipient’s cell phone number without ever having to see the recipient’s public key. Users can also delete their text chat history as a means of hiding evidence of a crypto wallet from law enforcement who may search their phone. Doing this does not affect their wallet at all.

As is the case with any developing technology, the platform is not without some security flaws. Users’ BCH addresses and by extension, their private keys, are linked to their phone numbers. This poses a serious problem as Cointext currently offers no resolution for the loss of funds if a user changes their phone number or loses their phone.

This revolutionary crypto service is particularly beneficial to billions of people in developing countries where neither smartphones, traditional bank accounts or consistent Internet access are common

Cointext plans to launch a wave of access numbers for additional countries next month and is looking for feedback from the 2,000 people experimenting with the beta version. The development team also plans to implement support for non-English speakers in the next version of the platform. From there, Cointext may become the first of many such services to introduce various digital currencies to the rest of the world.