您现在的位置: 纽约时报中英文网 >> 纽约时报中英文版 >> 商业 >> 正文


更新时间:2017-7-27 11:17:15 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Some Bitcoin Backers Are Defecting to Create a 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.

一些大多来自亚洲的投资者和企业家已宣布了一项计划,将在下周开始创建他们称之为比特币现金(Bitcoin Cash)的虚拟货币。

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.

一位住在东京的投资者罗杰·维尔(Roger Ver)周二对比特币现金表示支持,他说,“我确实认为这是一件好事。”

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.

研究比特币的约瑟夫·博诺(Joseph Bonneau)说:“从长远来看,它将被迫发展出某种真正的政治结构来制定这些决定,但现在还没有走到那一步,所以结果是混乱的。”博诺是电子前沿基金会(Electronic Frontier Foundation)的会员,该基金会把自己描述为捍卫数字隐私、言论自由和创新的非营利组织。

The Bitcoin divide is part of a wider splintering of the world that has sprung up around virtual currencies.


Many people who initially got excited about the unique technology behind Bitcoin have taken advantage of the public, open-source nature of the technology and created their own new virtual currencies, like Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin. These other systems run according to different rules than Bitcoin, with some emphasizing more speed and complexity, and some more focused on anonymity and security.


The divisions have, if anything, increased the excitement and the value of all the virtual currencies in the world — and banks and governments have announced their own projects to harness the technology.


The price of Bitcoin has recently been at record highs, near $3,000, and several other coins have grown to be worth billions of dollars on their own. A whole class of companies have raised money in recent months by creating and selling their own new digital tokens.


Until now, though, Bitcoin has remained the most valuable digital token of them all, and it has kept its followers united by a single set of rules, despite all the warring behind the scenes.


The divisions, though, appear to have grown too stark to keep everyone on the same blockchain, as the ledger of all Bitcoin transactions is known.


Mr. Ver has been one of the leaders of a contingent that has long wanted to change the rules governing the Bitcoin network so that it can handle more transactions and compete with the likes of PayPal and Visa.


Bitcoin Cash is set to increase the limit on the number of transactions that can be processed by the Bitcoin network every 10 minutes. Currently, the network can process only blocks of transactions that are smaller than one megabyte, which allows for roughly five transactions in a second.


The move to increase the size of the so-called blocks, though, has run up against intense opposition from the programmers who maintain the Bitcoin software.


These programmers, known as the core developers, have said that increasing the amount of data included in each block of transactions would make it harder for individual users to process the blocks and easier for a small number of companies to take control of the Bitcoin network.


“It destroys the Bitcoin ethos, which is open and permissionless, where nobody is telling you what to do,” said Samson Mow, the chief strategy officer at Blockstream, a company that employs some of the most prominent core developers.

“这破坏了比特币的道德观,也就是开放和无需授权,不需要有人告诉你该怎么做,”Blockstream的首席战略官缪永权(Samson Mow)说,Blockstream是一家雇佣了一些最有名的核心开发人员的公司。

The core developers have come up with their own solution to increase the number of transactions flowing through the system with software known as Segregated Witness, or SegWit. Mr. Ver and others, though, have said SegWit does not expand Bitcoin fast enough to keep up with its recent growth in popularity.

核心开发人员已经提出了自己的解决方案,他们希望通过被称为Segregated Witness或SegWit的软件来增加经过系统的交易数量。然而,维尔及其他人表示,SegWit并没能把比特币扩展为快到与其最近受欢迎程度大增相符的程度。

While Bitcoin Cash will not exist until next week, a small number of exchanges have begun trading futures contracts, tied to the expected price of Bitcoin Cash. On Tuesday, it was trading around $450, or a fraction of the $2,600 value of an ordinary Bitcoin.


As recently as last week, it appeared that the major Bitcoin players had found a compromise that would avert a split in the network, or a fork as it is known in Bitcoin world.


Many of the largest Bitcoin companies agreed in May that they would install the SegWit software the core developers created, while also moving toward a doubling of the size of each block of transactions, to two megabytes, in November.


The largest Bitcoin processors had signaled last week that they intended to begin running the new software on Aug. 1. But the developers have suggested that they do not intend to move forward with any increase in the size of the blocks in the coming months.


One of Mr. Ver’s many investment holdings, Bitcoin.com, announced on Tuesday that it would put all of its resources behind Bitcoin Cash if the block size has not been doubled by November.


To gain traction more broadly, Bitcoin Cash will have to win backing from the broader community of so-called Bitcoin miners.


Bitcoin miners are best known for using specialized computers to unlock, or mine, new Bitcoins. But miners also process Bitcoin transactions and have voting power over any changes to the Bitcoin network in direct proportion to the amount of computing power they dedicate to the network.


Most of the largest mining operations are now in China, thanks to the availability of cheap hardware and electricity.


One significant Chinese mining operation, ViaBTC, has been an outspoken supporter of Bitcoin Cash and has said it will begin backing the system next week.


The largest Bitcoin mining operator in the world, a company known as Bitmain, is a primary investor in ViaBTC. That has led many in the Bitcoin world to expect that Bitmain will also provide backing to Bitcoin Cash. But Bitmain has so far said only that it does not “rule out” supporting Bitcoin Cash.


When Bitcoin Cash comes into existence, every current holder of Bitcoins will have access to an equivalent amount of Bitcoin Cash, but from that point forward the two systems will diverge.


In the coming weeks, Bitcoin enthusiasts on all sides of the debate will be watching closely to see which big Bitcoin companies offer support for people who want to hold, trade and mine Bitcoin Cash.