Bitcoin Backers Create Rival Currency
SAN FRANCISCO — For the last two years, rival factions have been vying for control of the Bitcoin virtual currency and its global network of computers and supporters. Now, one of the main camps is preparing to break off and create a competing version of Bitcoin.
A group of investors and entrepreneurs, most of them based in Asia, have announced a plan to create what they are calling Bitcoin Cash, starting next week.The plan would seal a divorce between opponents in a long-simmering feud over what Bitcoin should be — and lead to two competing virtual currencies going by the name of Bitcoin. “I actually think it would be a good thing if there is a split,” said Roger Ver, a Tokyo-based investor who voiced his preliminary support for Bitcoin Cash on Tuesday. He said the differences among the different camps had quite likely grown too stark for them to move forward together.
Bitcoin Cash could easily dissolve into irrelevance — the level of support for it is still unclear — but the concrete plans to move forward have underscored, once again, how hard it is to govern a decentralized, open-source technology like Bitcoin with no single set of leaders or ownership.
“In the long run it will be forced to develop some real political structure to take these kinds of decisions, but it just isn’t there yet, so the result has been chaos,” said Joseph Bonneau, who has studied Bitcoin and is a fellow at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which describes itself as a nonprofit defending digital privacy, free speech and innovation.
The Bitcoin divide is part of a wider splintering of the world that has sprung up around virtual currencies.