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‘Bitcoin Jesus’ Is Having a Hard Time Winning Over True Believers

Olga Kharif
 

Roger Ver, the virtual currency advocate often referred to as Bitcoin Jesus, is finding it tough to win converts to the supposed second coming of the the world’s biggest cryptocurrency.

The offshoot of the digital coin, known as Bitcoin Cash, is barely being used in commerce, according to blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis. A review of payments received by the world’s 17 largest crypto merchant processing services, such as BitPay, Coinify and GoCoin, found that Bitcoin Cash payments slumped to $3.7 million in May from a high of $10.5 million in March. Bitcoin payments totaled $60 million in May, down from a peak of $412 million in September.

The declines mirror the plunge in the value of digital currency this year, with Bitcoin tumbling about 55 percent and Bitcoin Cash crashing about 75 percent. After peaking in December, Bitcoin Cash’s market capitalization has dropped by about 85 percent to $9.4 billion. While it’s still the fourth-largest cryptocurrency, the market cap is less than 10 percent of Bitcoin’s, according to data tracker CoinMarketCap.

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“There are fewer users of Bitcoin Cash, fewer holders," Kim Grauer, senior economist at Chainalysis, said in a phone interview.

Bitcoin Cash split from Bitcoin a year ago. Ver switched allegiance to Bitcoin Cash, invested in it, and overhauled his Bitcoin.com site to focus on the cryptocurrency. Advocates of each have been trading barbs on Twitter, Reddit and other forums ever since, and even engaged in the recent debate over ownership of Bitcoin.org . Ver didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Adoption in commerce has been low, partly the result of concentrated ownership, Grauer said. About 56 percent of Bitcoin Cash is controlled by 67 wallets not located on exchanges, according to Chainalysis. Of those, two wallets hold between 10,000 and 100,000 Bitcoin Cash. And chances are, the wealthiest holders are the ones sending a lot of the traffic to merchant services, Grauer said.

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Ver has remained undeterred. He highlighted how many transactions Bitcoin Cash is doing in an Aug. 13 tweet, saying “the long-term price of a crypto currency is a function of its usefulness as a currency.”

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