By: Sameer Zubairi | 4 min read | 17/12/2018

What Caused The Bitcoin Cash Hard Fork

Cryptocurrency seems to be the modern day gold rush. Where once prospectors in the old west traveled to untapped territories in the search for gold, tech wizards and curious investors are flocking to blockchain networks. The search for gold was sparked by its high degree of exchangeability. Regardless of where it was from, gold would always retain its value.

This characteristic can be a lot more difficult to establish in the blockchain universe since the exchangeability of a digital currency depends on how the transaction is recorded in the digital ledger. Therefore, the computer algorithm that validates transactions on the blockchain network must first be democratically agreed upon by a vast majority of nodes on the network. Achieving a democratic consensus is tougher than it sounds. While most of the time updates to the underlying code of a blockchain network easily garner support from its user base, such updates can also cause rifts and splits in the community.

This usually occurs due to disagreements on the changes that are being made, and what they mean for the future of the currency. A good example of this is the Bitcoin Cash hard fork of November 2018.


Before jumping into the political backdrop of what caused this split, it’s important to recognize how forking occurs in a blockchain network. A fork is just a fancy name for a software upgrade. The algorithm that the blockchain executes to generate a new block and record transactions is what’s being updated. However, this can happen in one of two ways depending on the overarching consensus of the user base:

Soft Fork Hard Fork
Majority of nodes approve No majority consensus
Only previous blocks made invalid Previous blocks and blocks on concurrent chain made invalid
Backwards Compatible: All nodes on the network are still accepted Only accepts nodes running the new version
Single blockchain after fork Multiple blockchains after fork

Hard forks are how currencies like Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum Classic are created. There is a fundamental disagreement within a blockchain community that leads to the formation of two completely independent blockchain networks emerging from a single one. In these cases, all nodes still running the previous version of the blockchain will no longer be accepted to make new transactions.

Noteworthy, Bitcoin Cash was birthed due to a hard fork occurring in the Bitcoin blockchain network. Nodes supporting Bitcoin Cash wanted the blockchain network to increase the size of the blocks being generated. The larger block size is seen as a way to increase transaction volume or the number of transactions completed within a set period. This caused a split, and a new coin was born.


Bitcoin Cash is normally scheduled to make updates to the blockchain protocol by implementing soft forks every six months. This was expected to occur in November of 2018, when the largest Bitcoin Cash client, Bitcoin ABC, announced changes to its full node implementation of the currency, which included fundamental modifications like adding operation codes and changing the way transactions are ordered. This caused a major stir in the Bitcoin Cash community since these changes were seen as widely unnecessary, and in some cases, completely missing the purpose of Bitcoin as a financial tool.

A large blockchain development firm called nChain announced their own proposal for the upcoming update. The founder, Craig Wright, has claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto. He suggested a larger number of changes to the protocol for the sake of reverting back to the original as released by Satoshi Nakamoto. They decided to name this new version Bitcoin SV, for Satoshi’s Vision.

Now here’s the tricky part. Both blockchain proposals claimed to have the best interests of the community in mind and were trying to make scaling, securing and stabilizing the network a priority. Bitcoin SV even established a roadmap and four fundamental pillars that would help it become more accessible to businesses. With the community split down the middle, a hard fork started to become inevitable. 19.3% of the nodes openly supported Bitcoin ABC’s proposal and just a slightly larger 29.5% of nodes support Bitcoin SV. This crack in the network solidified, and two coins Bitcoin Cash ABC and Bitcoin Cash SV emerged.

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