Bitcoin Cash: Suddenly A Star Performer

Just look at what has been happening in the prices of bitcoin and bitcoin cash.  Between December, the king of crypto fell some 65%. Since the April 1 low, bitcoin has partially recovered, gaining 31%.  Bitcoin cash really took it on the chin losing 80% in the December-April period. However, since then, BCH has been a digital darling, gaining 80%.  This ranks among the top crypto performers so far in the month of April. What’s behind the move?

What We Have Been Missing

I have a confession to make.  For the past year bitcoin cash has pretty much flown under my radar. Here is a best efforts excuse.  Bitcoin cash has only been in existence since last August. During this time there have been so many ICOs flying around that keeping up with something which sounded like just another name for the original king of crypto didn’t seem all that important.

That was a mistake because there is quite a difference between the original and bitcoin cash.  And if it continues, someday bitcoin cash will be king. Here is what I am getting at.

All cryptocurrencies face certain limits when it comes to scaling. It is a more complex issue than simply adding more transactions to the blockchain.  A whole lot of the Gen III companies are attempting to come up with a solution to minimize the time required to confirm a block of transactions without blowing up fees.

Bitcoin has the distinction of suffering the worst of both slow speed and bloated fees.  Back at the price peak last December transactions were limited to fewer than 10 per second while fees shot up to more than $30.  

Anyone buying bitcoin during that period for investment purposes probably didn’t care. After all, by last December, bitcoin had appreciated over 7,000%.  But if you wanted to use Bitcoin to buy a $4.50 Latte or a $75 Cuisinart coffee maker from Overstock.com, logic told you to forget about it.

Small Transaction R Us

This is where bitcoin cash came into being.  BCH became a hard fork of bitcoin, meaning that it uses the bitcoin protocols except for one important difference.  Each BCH block initially contained 8 megabits compared with just one for BTC. The whole point of BCH is to create a currency that in a medium of exchange rather than simply an investment device.

Back around August, the average transaction fee for BTC was about $0.70 (BCH was $0.08) so fees were completely overshadowed by the fixation in bitcoin’s skyrocketing price.

The Lessons From December

Long before the explosion in bitcoin fees last December work was underway on the Lightning Network.  When fully implemented by the Bitcoin community, it will reduce the gap between itself and bitcoin cash.  But that could be completely illusory based on last weeks announcement.

Around May 15 bitcoin cash plans to create a hard fork that will increase block size four fold to 32 bits.  Word of this has to be one big reason for the bitcoin cash price outperforming many of its peers. At least for the time being, BCH will have a considerable advantage both in terms of confirmation speed and fees.  

According to Bitinfocharts, current bitcoin fees are 0.199 compared with 0.0035 for bitcoin cash, while mining profits are about equal. This is a data point that is most impressive because the BCH maximize block size has yet to be increased.  BCH is attracting smaller average transaction size. In other words, their plan is working.

The Unpaved Road

The rapid price appreciation and the hard fork announcement will draw attention to BCH.  This is enough to make it more attractive than BTC. One thing to remember. If bitcoin cash developers intend to become a medium of exchange, a currency for the masses, they have a long way to go.  

All digital currencies face the same challenge.  Bitcoin claims acceptance by more than 10,000 merchants including 14 large retailers like Overstocked and Microsoft.  Bitcoin cash was accepted by just 429 until Bitpay extended support to BCH, which put it on equal footing as the original bitcoin.  Either way, fewer than 5% of all retailers accept cryptocurrencies and we suspect that less the 2% of all retail transactions are represented by any of these currencies.

Even so, bitcoin cash is suddenly taking on a far more exciting role in the crypto game so don’t be surprised to see this continue for a while.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Author:
James Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.