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Can The Bitcoin Community Bridge The Split?

Laura Brodbeck

In recent weeks, the bitcoin community has been engaged in a heated debate over how the cryptocurrency should advance in the future.

Developers Gavin Andresen and Mike Hearn released a new version of bitcoin which allows for larger transaction volumes and is expected to set the currency up for widespread adoption in the future. As not everyone in the cryptocurrency world agrees that the updated system is best, bitcoin could potentially split into two versions, complicating its use.

The Debate

Bitcoin XT, the version released by Andresen and Hearn, increases the cryptocurrency's block size, which will increase its capacity to record transactions. Bitcoin Core keeps block sizes below 1MB in order to make hosting accessible to ordinary users.

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Critics of Bitcoin XT say that the new setup could lead to more centralization by complicating matters for ordinary users, but supporters say increased block size is necessary in order to prepare the currency for widespread use in the future.

A Compromise

This week, several big name bitcoin firms wrote a joint letter calling for a compromise between the two versions. Companies like BitPay, Circle.com, and Xapo.com all expressed their support for increasing block size by adopting some of Andresen and Hearn's changes, but keeping bitcoin united with only a single version. The letter calls on the community to come together to avoid a split as such an event would likely deter the general public from adopting the cryptocurrency.

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