Odds of a Bitcoin Split Continue to Rise as 'Bitcoin Unlimited' Mining Capacity Expands

Bitcoin’s value has taken a direct hit as a result of the rising animosity between the Bitcoin Core and Bitcoin Unlimited supporters & developers. The debate, drama and brinkmanship surrounding Bitcoin’s scaling debate pushed the BTC/USD exchange rate down by 25% last week.

On March 15th, the digital currency was hovering around $1257, but by March 18th, as the community began to seriously contemplate the odds of a split in the network, with plenty of colorful commentary on Twitter and Reddit, Bitcoin’s price had fallen under $950.

Although the exchange rate has risen back above the $1000 mark over the last two days, the threat of a split has not gone away. In fact, the hashrate (mining power) of miners who are in support of Bitcoin Unlimited has continued to rise.

As of today, Bitcoin Unlimited’s estimated hashrate reached a record high of 1.428 Th/s - about 40% of all mining power on the Bitcoin network:

The amount of blocks being mined by Bitcoin Unlimited miners has also continued to increase at a steady pace. According to data by NodeCounter, Bitcoin Unlimited miners have found 36.8% of all blocks, while last week, that figure was close to 33%:

BU’s rising dominance on the Bitcoin network, largely driven by Chinese mining pool Antpool, which began signalling 100% support for BU last Monday, has unnerved many Bitcoin Core supporters/miners.

Many on the side of Bitcoin Core perceive the cozy partnership between Antpool and the Bitcoin Unlimited group as an existential threat to the core principle of decentralization the digital currency was founded upon by its creator, Satoshi Nakamoto.

And the disagreement between the two camps has become so ferocious that one of the more prominent Bitcoin Core developers, Peter Todd, floated the idea that an algorithm change may be necessary to protect Bitcoin Core’s network in the event Bitcoin Unlimited splits-off by gaining a large share of the mining power.

Bitcoin Unlimited needs to amass more than 70% of the mining power before a split is even considered feasible. However, if the current rate of growth of mining power in support of the Bitcoin Unlimited proposal continues unabated, the likelihood of a split in Bitcoin’s blockchain network will increase dramatically over the coming weeks and months.

Divided sign photo by Johnny Silvercloud with alteration by Razor-Forex.