OKCoin is delisting bitcoin cash (BCH), a fork or “clone” of bitcoin, as well as its own fork, bitcoin sv (BSV), both as a way to protect neophyte clients who are trying to buy bitcoin and as a statement of principle.
Shared exclusively with CoinDesk before Friday’s announcement, the exchange’s higher-ups decided to scuttle the markets for either coin because they created confusion for new clients who joined OKCoin to buy bitcoin.
“This is not an easy decision. We had a choice and there is collateral damage, but we had to stand up for the bigger principle we believe in,” OKCoin CEO Hong Fang told CoinDesk, adding that OKCoin’s team tries to not let their “opinions color their decision making.”
Still, Craig Wright’s most recent legal crusade against developers who host Bitcoin’s white paper was a breaking point. For Fang, it became a choice between protecting Bitcoin’s open source ethos or championing free-market fundamentals.
In the end, community won out.
“On the one hand we feel very strongly about protecting the open-source ethos, but on the other, if we do something about it, that would conflict with our principle of being a neutral platform. We wouldn’t have changed that if it weren’t for Craig Wright posting these threats to the open-source dev community. We think these threats are very destructive to development and Bitcoin as a whole,” Fang told CoinDesk.
Additionally, these coins bear bitcoin’s name and that has “caused a lot of confusion about what is the real bitcoin among new entrants,” Fang expressed.
“When we have all three on the platform and we have new clients onboarding, most are coming [to buy] bitcoin as a store of value. But when they see BSV and BCH they get confused.”
Bitcoin Cash is a “fork” of Bitcoin, meaning it was created by copying and tweaking Bitcoin’s code, which was birthed out of the so-called scaling or block size wars.
In August 2017, after the SegWit2x block size increase failed to pass muster with the Bitcoin community, former Bitcoin evangelist Roger Ver forked Bitcoin to create Bitcoin Cash. Two years later in November of 2019, Craig Wright and others forked Bitcoin Cash to create Bitcoin SV, which had even larger blocks than its predecessor.
Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV: A history of contention
The confusion Fang speaks to has long been a frustration of the Bitcoin community.
Bitcoin.com, for instance, is run by Bitcoin Cash promoter and progenitor Roger Ver, and for some time the website’s “Buy Bitcoin” button directed patrons to a page where they could instead buy bitcoin cash.
Bitcoin proponents see this chicanery as a sort of attack on Bitcoin. They also argue that Bitcoin SV poses a similar threat.
As such, it became something of a symbolic gesture in 2019 to delist bitcoin sv. Plenty of popular exchanges like Kraken, Binance, ShapeShift and others made the move; many or all of those same exchanges, though, still list bitcoin cash.
In January, Australian exchange Independent Reserve delisted bitcoin sv, citing Wright’s copyright suit threats against those who host Bitcoin’s white paper. (Wright has long proclaimed yet failed to prove that he is Bitcoin’s creator, Satoshi Nakamoto.)
It’s Fang’s hope that, in light of Wright’s recent actions, more industry leaders will step up and denounce what has become a thorn in the side of the entire industry.
“We call for other members of the community to protect the spirit of free and open source development and decentralization,” she said. “Say no to bullying.”
Ray Schuetz received a Masters Degree in computer science from The University of Texas (Austin). Ray has been working as a full-time blockchain consultant for the past 3 years. In his spare time, Ray enjoys writing for EthereumCryptocurrency.com and other crypto news publications.