Although there has been some serious, public drama over
in the Bitcoin community for over a year, it appears that the
community is mostly unified behind a single plan going forward,
which is based on the "
Bitcoin Roundtable Consensus
." There are still high-profile individuals, such as former
and longtime Bitcoin angel investor
, who would like to see an increase in the
size limit as soon as possible.
, which intends to deploy a block size limit increase to 2
megabytes via a
, currently sits around 5 percent of the
, and representatives from the vast majority of Bitcoin miners and
mining pools have no intention of breaking the previous agreement
to run only Bitcoin Core software for the foreseeable future.
recently chatted with
about his current thoughts on
(SegWit), hard forks and the
recent Beijing meeting
supporters and the Chinese Bitcoin mining industry. Bitmain runs
one of the top two Bitcoin mining pools in the world,
. The pool accounted for roughly 22 percent of all mined blocks
over the four days prior to publication.
Comments on the Beijing Meeting
previously reported on a somewhat secretive meeting in Beijing that
took place near the end of March.
referred to the meeting as a "train wreck," which is a description
that some, such as Roger Ver, found to be inaccurate.
When asked if he would refer to the meeting as a train wreck, Wu
responded, "It depends how you define 'train wreck.' If it
describes the status that no agreement [was] reached, it is a
Wu went on to clarify that an agreement, like the one made in
Hong Kong, was not the purpose of the Beijing meeting (in his
view). He explained:
"We discussed lots of potential solutions around the scaling
issues and debated possible problems with those ideas. As there
is no intention to corner anyone into any promise, everyone feels
free to discuss all possible ways of future actions. The meeting
let everyone know about the position of each other very
When asked if he thinks the
Bitcoin Core roadmap
is sufficient, Wu responded, "If (a soon and big enough) block size
limit increase does [become] a part of the scaling roadmap, and the
is ready soon enough, I think it will be sufficient for at least a
few years from now."
Antpool Will Not Run Bitcoin Classic, May Delay
During his conversation with
, Wu confirmed that Antpool is testing Segregated Witness (SegWit)
right now, and the mining pool will not be running Bitcoin Classic
in a production environment for the foreseeable future. Wu added
that Bitmain is honoring the Hong Kong agreement, "even though lots
of people think that SegWit is not 'released' as there is only a
It should be clarified that there was no explicit promise to
release Segregated Witness by April in the Hong Kong agreement.
Having said that, Wu put the agreement in the following
"The context is that SegWit will be released in a very timely
manner to address the block size scarcity problems in the near
future. The China Bitcoin community side, including exchanges,
wallets and miners, [are] concerned very much about the
short-term problem. [The] SegWit release date was repetitively
stated as in April. So delay of SegWit is a problem, though most
of the parties will understand this problem and continue to act
in good faith."
Wu also shared his views on whether the current state of
Segregated Witness can be viewed as a true release:
"By 'release,' it should be always a functioning, well-tested
binary software that can let people to run safely in good faith.
A code which is not merged, not tested, not agreed by their
decision community is not a 'release.' There are several
'release[s]' in the agreement, and every 'release' has the same
implication or meaning."
Before running Segregated Witness code in a production
environment, Wu would like to see the hard fork code discussed in
the Hong Kong agreement implemented in a release of Bitcoin Core.
"We are waiting for the July hard fork code promised in the
February Hong Kong meeting. We and other mining pools will want to
talk to Core again after the hard fork code is public before we
take next steps."
When asked specifically whether Antpool would run SegWit code
without a hard fork increase in the block size also included in a
release of Bitcoin Core, Wu responded:
"No. It is acceptable that the hard fork code is not
activated, but it needs to be included in a 'release' of Bitcoin
Core. I have made it clear about the definition of 'release,'
which is not 'public.'"
Some of the Bitcoin Core contributors who signed the Hong Kong
agreement recently met in New York to discuss what should be in the
proposed hard fork. The details of the proposed hard fork are
expected to be known soon, and a
Bitcoin development mailing list
indicates a way to block the
has been discussed.
In the current environment,
that an increase to the block size limit via a hard fork is
unlikely to be merged into Bitcoin Core. Having said that, Bitcoin
Core contributor and spokesperson
that an increase via a
is a possibility. Increases via a soft fork, such as
, have been discussed in the past.
It should be noted that Segregated Witness is also, effectively,
an increase in the block size limit to roughly 1.7 megabytes.
is another optimization that would allow more transactions to fit
in each block.
In Lombrozo's view, hard forks should not be deployed under
political pressure while animosity still exists between different
segments of the community.
In the context of Antpool's current views on scaling, the lack
of a hard fork deployment in Bitcoin Core could delay the
activation of a Segregated Witness soft fork.
Wu: A Hard Fork is Still Needed
While Bitmain is sticking with the Hong Kong agreement, Jihan Wu
is worried whether Bitcoin Core will implement an increase to the
block size limit. He noted the possibility of a "
" if the block size limit is not increased that would be caused by
transaction delays and fee increases, but he understands that the
Bitcoin Core contributors who attended the Hong Kong meeting cannot
speak for those who were not there.
Wu noted that block space has a
perfectly inelastic supply
, which he noted is an economic term that is not often applied to
the real world. He added, "I really don't want the whole community
to experience serious problems as a consequence of making [the]
Wu did mention that
was a positive sign. He stated:
"The [recent] presentation by Adam Back for
showed that they have been taking the block size increase problem
into serious consideration. It is a positive sign. We hope that
the Core community members, especially those who have veto rights
in their decision-making process, can realize the [importance of]
increases [in] the main block size."
In terms of when a block size limit increase is needed, Wu
"We need to do it fast. The block size increase is, after all,
a short term solution for emergency problems. Delaying to
increase the block size will bring lots of problems, which mostly
become the pain of Bitcoin enterprises such as exchanges and
To illustrate his concern regarding the need for more
block space, Wu shared a question asked by
CEO Wu Gang during the Hong Kong meeting in February. Wu
transactions pop up now. The demand for Bitcoin transactions is
higher and higher. What if SegWit and the Lighting Network cannot
be ready and adaptive to the demand soon enough? Will we just ask
the users to wait until we have finished the SegWit soft fork and
Wu added that Gang's question was not answered.
reached out to Bitcoin Core contributor
to get an answer to Gang's question:
"Unfortunately Bitcoin simply doesn't scale well, so we don't
have any easy way to respond to increased demand other than the
; block size can be bumped, but that increases centralization.
The fee market does mean that the lowest valued transactions get
priced out of the market, but now that fee estimation is widely
supported, and wallets are
beginning to add support for
replace-by-fee fee bumping
, we do have good mechanisms for users to outbid those lowest
valued transactions and keep using Bitcoin. This isn't a great
answer I agree, but there's not much more we can do without
fundamental improvements to Bitcoin's scalability."