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Bitcoin Hard Fork: The Game Plan

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Bitcoin’s upcoming fork is arguably its most divisive one yet. Clear battle lines have been drawn, setting the stage for a potentially Lutheran-style schism in the blockchain community. (Note: the author is being a bit dramatic, but all signs seem to show that a serious divergence is building momentum.)

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By looking at bitcoin’s price, one would hardly conclude that the original blockchain currency is facing turmoil. Bitcoin added a staggering 24% last week en route to fresh record highs. However, one of the motivations for buying bitcoin is the hard fork itself. If you own bitcoin on fork day, you will also receive equal value of the newly minted digital currency. (If your cryptocurrency exchange doesn’t support the new coin, you can always threaten to sue it like the backers of Bitcoin Cash did to Coinbase.)

SegWit2x

The upcoming hard fork, which is scheduled sometime in mid-November, will create two competing versions of bitcoin. We speculated recently that the new coin is unlikely to create controversy over the “real” bitcoin, but as Jeff John Roberts of Fortune argues, this disagreement is already under way.

Like the hard forks before it, the main crux of the debate is how to best optimize the Bitcoin network. Backers of SegWit2x want to double the size of bitcoin blocks to boost transaction capability.

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Backers of the new protocol include bitcoin miners who use advanced computers to compile transactions. In their view, bigger blocks are desperately needed to accommodate the massive growth in the blockchain network, as well as to reduce transaction fees. As Roberts also notes, these miners are part of a consortia that includes “certain exchanges, wallet providers, market makers, and storage vaults.” On the opposite side of the spectrum are those who maintain the core protocol that comprises the Bitcoin network.

Below is a rundown of interplay between bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash and the upcoming SegWit2X hard fork.

Bitcoin (BTC) SegWit Activated No Increase in Block Size
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) No SegWit Activated Increased Block Size to 8MB
SegWi2x (B2X) SegWit Activated Increase Block Size

The Game Plan

As one might expect, the broader implications of SegWit2x likely won’t be known until fork day. But that shouldn’t stop you from formulating a game plan. The big question mark right now is which version of bitcoin will get the much coveted BTC ticker name. As it currently stands, exchanges have not opined about which version of bitcoin they will support, although Bitfinex will run the SegWit2x chain as B2X.

On the GDAX, hash power will decide which chain gets the BTC ticker. So far, there is no news on what Bitstamp, bitFlyer and Kraken aim to do.

Rather than track a couple dozen bitcoin exchanges, investors may want to focus on Coinbase. The San Francisco-based platform has long been viewed as the industry’s proxy; how it chooses to handle the fork (and potential split) will have direct implications on the market.

A hard fork is a software change that runs the risk of splitting the blockchain into two, particularly if the community disagrees about it. (Laura Shin, Forbes)

When it comes time to fork, market participants need to be clear about their intentions. The first question you need to ask is: Do I plan on transacting with the various bitcoin chains anytime soon, or am I keen on holding the coins as long-term investments? If you prefer the latter, then you should be thinking about storing your coins in a wallet. (Note: paper and hardware wallets offer more security.)

Those of us who are speculating in bitcoin need to be aware that the upcoming fork could get very messy. It is unclear which chain the exchanges will list as BTC, which means the price of BTC could differ vastly across the brokerage community. (Note: if you observe vastly different prices for BTC, it means you’re looking at two different coins.)

Adding more confusion is the fact that the SegWit2x protocol will fork without adequate replay protection. This means BTC and B2X transactions will appear identical after the fork. To avoid accidentally spending the new coins, you should avoid exchanging from your wallet all together after the fork. This also includes not accepting payments via mobile wallets, since BTC will mirror whichever coin has more hash power.

Furthermore, claiming your coins will prove difficult until well after the fork when dedicated wallets for both blockchains emerge.

If you’re a trader, there’s even more confusion about whether BTC and B2X will have any price correlation. Following the Bitcoin Cash hard fork, BTH and BTC appeared to be inversely correlated for a while. However, lately, anything named bitcoin has moved in the same direction: Up.

The conclusions that we’ve drawn in this section may annoy some of our members, but complex situations usually call for measured steps. In this case, staying on the sidelines until the dust settles might be the best approach.

Altcoin Advantage?

Altcoins have largely benefited from bitcoin’s meteoric rise – that is, until recently. The latest surge in bitcoin has largely failed to take altcoins along for the ride. This has led to speculation that the altcoin universe is undervalued. An exit from the bitcoin asset class could therefore be a tailwind for altcoins pre- and post-fork.

Currently, the original bitcoin controls roughly 63% of the cryptocurrency market. This figure fell below half earlier in the year as investors diversified away from bitcoin while others became more annoyed by bitcoin’s slow transaction process. If diversification is part of your strategy, now might be the top to consider altcoins. The author sees no reason why the altcoin universe cannot control at least half of the cryptocurrency market, especially if we witness a long-anticipated correction in BTC.

Total Cryptocurrency Market Cap With Bitcoin

Total Cryptocurrency Market Cap Without Bitcoin

 

Final Considerations

There’s no guarantee that bitcoin prices will plunge after the hard fork. Regardless of which blockchain emerges as the BTC candidate, bitcoin is enjoying plenty of upside thanks to growing institutional support from the major exchanges. Both CME Group and CBOE have announced plans for bitcoin futures relatively shortly. a strong sign that institutional capital will flow like never before.

To recap:

  1. Secure your coins in a paper or hard wallet for extra safety.
  2. Avoid transacting the BTC symbol before and after fork day.
  3. After fork day, access your coins only when you see dedicated wallets for both blockchains.
  4. Take advantage of the undervalued altcoin universe if bitcoin becomes volatile.

As fork day looms, keep your wits (and coins) about you and stay out of trouble.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest money you can't afford to lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here.



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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. benb

    November 5, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    Well written, thank you for the write up. Do you think the exchanges will still allow trading while the wallets are locked for deposits and withdrawals?

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Analysis

Cryptocurrency Analysis: Ripple Continues Rampage as Litecoin and Ethereum Enter Correction

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Ripple remained in the center of attention in the segment after breaking out to a new all-time high yesterday, and the coin almost doubled in value, climbing above the $0.80 level. The currency concluded a 6-month long consolidation pattern with the move after being the only major on a long-term buy signal in our trend model.

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XRP gave a short-term sell signal today, while turning neutral regarding the long-term setup. Investors now shouldn’t add to their positions, although further gains are still possible, and reducing holdings somewhat is a good idea here. Major support is still found at the prior high near $0.4250 and in the $0.30-$0.32 range.

XRP/USDT, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

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While Bitcoin stagnated, and Bitcoin Cash jumped, Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash, and IOTA has been drifting slightly lower, although the recent gains are still mostly intact, and the basic setup in the segment is unchanged.

Litecoin fell below the $300 level after yesterday’s consolidation, and the coin faced strong selling pressure in the latter half of the session. The currency remains extremely stretched regarding the long-term momentum indicators, and although the short-term uptrend is still intact, a deeper correction is likely in the coming weeks, with key support levels found at $125 and $100, and weaker levels at $260 and $170.

LTC/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

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Altcoins

Trade Recommendation: XMR/BTC Pair Throwback

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The XMR/BTC market (Monero) has been in downtrend on the hourly chart after posting a high of 0.0225 on December 6 and failing to hold critical support at 0.02. It went to as low as 0.0145 on December 8 before respecting RSI at 32 where it established support. The market used the new support level to rally and generate one higher low after the other. It recently attempted to reclaim support at 0.02 but was repelled by bears. Currently, the market is trading around 0.019 levels where it appears to have created another higher low.

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Technical analysis shows a large reversal pattern in the hourly chart that can take the XMR/BTC pair to 0.025. Even though the market failed to breach resistance at 0.02, investors should not see it as a failed breakout. What we’re seeing is a throwback which is a temporary retreat in price. Throwbacks are common in breakout plays and are often seen as a bullish signal. The next time the market attempts to breach 0.02 resistance, it has a much better chance of breaking it with conviction.

The strategy is to buy breakout at 0.02 with immediate stop at 0.0189.

Hourly XMR/BTC Chart on Poloniex

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As of this writing, XMR/BTC is trading at 0.018714 on Poloniex.

Summary of Strategy

Buy: breakout at 0.02

Target: 0.025

Stop: move below 0.0189 after buying breakout at 0.02.

Disclaimer: The writer owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

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Altcoins

Trade Recommendation: FCT/BTC Bullish Reversal

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The market reach its all-time high back in June this year when FTC/BTC (Factom) reached 0.01463162. Unfortunately, the pair wasn’t able to sustain its momentum. It created a lower high several days later at 0.01066744 which signalled investors to take profits or cut their losses. As a result, the market tumbled and lost 93.17% in value from its all-time high. Such a tremendous loss would have created an atmosphere of despair in the market. Usually, that’s when the savviest traders come in.

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Technical analysis reveals that the worst is behind the pair. FCT/BTC touched support at 0.001 on the daily chart twice and respected it on both occasions. This is a good indication that the market has found a reliable support level. In addition, hourly chart shows that a large reversal pattern is underway. The pair may have retreated when it nearly touched 0.002, but it generated a new higher low in the process at 0.00156566. The throwback is a bullish signal that enables the pair to gather momentum to break resistance at 0.002.

The strategy is buy on breakout at 0.002. Breach that level and the market reclaims 0.003. Sell that level because it is a strong resistance.

Hourly FCT/BTC Chart on Poloniex

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As of this writing, FCT/BTC is trading at 0.001738 on Poloniex.

Summary of Strategy

Buy: breakout at 0.002

Target: 0.003

Stop: move below 0.0018 after buying breakout at 0.002.  

 

Disclaimer: The writer owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest money you can't afford to lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here.



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