Everything You Need to Know About Bitcoin Forks

Bitcoin is a popular blockchain-based cryptocurrency, and if you’re debating on how to get involved, this guide is for you. We have another guide on the basics of cryptocurrency to check out if you’re new to industry as a whole. We also discuss Bitcoin in more detail here. This guide is specifically geared toward bitcoin’s forks.

What Is a Bitcoin Fork?

Bitcoin is a blockchain-based cryptocurrency created by an anonymous developer with the pseudonym Santoshi Nakamora. Each block was set at a size of 1 megabyte, which introduced limitations as the crypto scaled. Blocks continue increasing in size, while the amount of bitcoin awarded for mining blocks continues to half. In short, this means the computational power necessary to process bitcoin’s blockchain increases while the incentive to process is decreased.

Because of this bottleneck, bitcoin forked into several other options that shared the same blockchain up to a specific block. From that point, each fork began tracking the cryptos differently, creating a split in the network. Since consensus among the network is needed, some exchanges, wallets, and miners support one coin, while others support the other.

The limitations in bitcoin created several proposed hard forks from 2013-2017, with more expected in the future. Software forks include Bitcoin XT, Bitcoin Classic, Bitcoin Unlimited, and SegWit2x. Each of these forks was meant to increase the size of bitcoin blocks, but they all failed to gain enough support and eventually shuttered.

Two coin forks did survive, though. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) forked at block 477120 on August 1, 2017, while Bitcoin Gold (BTG) forked at block 491407 on October 24, 2017. Because they share a blockchain up to these points, if you held 1 bitcoin during these forks, you also held 1 BCH and 1 BTG, respectively. Of course, this all depends on where you stored your Bitcoin during the forks.

It’s somewhat similar to a stock split, although it differs in that each coin holds a different value.

Now, you can choose to invest in any of the three bitcoins separately and they are all run on separate networks with separate protocols.

How Much Are Bitcoin Forks Worth?

Bitcoin has a market cap of $147,743,828,673, as of March 22, 2018. This is based on a circulating supply of 16,934,050 BTC, with each bitcoin token being worth $8,724.66. Over $5.5 billion bitcoin is traded each day.

The peak price of bitcoin so far occurred on December 18, 2017, at a price of $19,000,80.

Bitcoin Cash has a market cap of $17,233,867,996, as of March 22, 2018. This is based on a circulating supply of 17,032,375 BCH, with each bitcoin cash token being worth $1,011.83. Over $342 million bitcoin cash is traded each day.

The peak price of bitcoin cash so far occurred on December 20, 2017, at a price of $3,831.57.

Bitcoin Gold has a market cap of $1,045,033,430, as of March 22, 2018. This is based on a circulating supply of 16,896,611 BTG, with each bitcoin gold token being worth $61.85. Over $24 million bitcoin gold is traded each day.

The peak price of bitcoin cash so far occurred on December 20, 2017, at a price of $464.16.

Each bitcoin fork is mineable, although it takes specialized mining equipment to do so. Both bitcoin and bitcoin cash require ASIC rigs, and bitcoin gold is designed specifically for GPU mining. None of these coins can be successfully mined using a PC’s CPU, which is what drove up the price of video cards.

Who Supports Bitcoin Forks?

Each bitcoin fork has supporters and opponents. Bitcoin is the most widely accepted cryptocurrency on the planet. It is accepted as payment by many major retailers, including Playboy, Subway, Virgin Galactic, Expedia, Overstock, NewEgg, Humblebundle, and more.

Some places let you pay rent with bitcoin, and some schools let you pay tuition with it.

Bitcoin Cash was created by major Chinese ASIC manufacturer Bitmain. While some retailers do accept it, they’re mostly smaller companies. Microsoft accepts it for Office365, Outlook, and Xbox Live, though. NewEgg accepts bitcoin cash. So do many online vape shops, along with a slew of VPN providers and other online services. Check out the full list here.

Bitcoin Gold is much harder to spend, and you’ll likely need to to exchange the coins for bitcoin and cash out to fiat currency rather than actually spend them.

Where Can I Buy/Sell Bitcoin Forks?

If you want to buy bitcoin fork coins, it can be done on most popular crypto exchanges, including CoinBase* and Binance. A full list of exchanges supporting each bitcoin fork can be found on their respective websites:

Bitcoin.org
Bitcoingold.org
Bitcoincash.org

*Note – CoinBase doesn’t support bitcoin gold as of 3/22/2018.

If you have any other questions about Ripple’s cryptocurrency, standards, or blockchain not covered above, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer.

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