Fork in the Road: Antpool Switching to Bitcoin Unlimited

Blockchain, FinTech, News | March 14, 2017 By:

In a move that may significantly alter the bitcoin world, AntPool, the largest mining pool, has announced it will switch to Bitcoin Unlimited.

Delays in verifying transactions via the blockchain were cited in the decision. Antpool currently controls more than 15% of the hashing power (the processing power) of the bitcoin network. That determines the speed of the intensive mathematical calculations that are at the core of bitcoin security.

Antpool’s decision to move to Bitcoin Unlimited reflects growing frustrations with slow approval times for transactions. Estimates indicate a billion dollars worth of bitcoin transfers have been on hold in the last month because of the lack of transactional capacity on the existing blockchain network.

The delays have resulted in some calling for increasing the block size limits beyond one megabyte. The so-called “hard fork” would allow miners to mine blocks larger than one megabyte, which would alleviate some network congestion.

Bitcoin Unlimited wants to increase the one megabyte block size, a move advocated by many miners and node operators. It uses an algorithm called “Emergent Consensus,” which follows the longest valid chain even if that includes a block bigger than the current status quo. If more users adopt Bitcoin Unlimited, some fear it sets up a hard fork with essentially two sets of bitcoin currencies.

Critics of Bitcoin Unlimited say changing the blockchain size could make the system more vulnerable to governments, global banks and criminal activity.

Antpool founder Wu Jihan confirmed the switch to Bitcoin Unlimited. “We can’t tell how the hard fork will play out. We will only know by the time we get there,” he said in a statement.