You may have heard about the bitcoin scaling issue that is currently playing out so I would like to offer the following as a simple yet comprehensive explanation of what is about to happen.
U.K.’s Brexit referendum on June 23rd, 2016 caused the British Pound to lose 10% of its value in a single night, which is a massive move for a regular currency. For cryptocurrencies, a move of 10% in a day has become a regular occurrence, so the price effects could be far more significant here.
Hope you enjoy and appreciate any questions, comments, and feedback.
eToro, Senior Market Analyst
Please note: All data, figures, and graphs are valid as of July 19th. All trading carries risk. Only risk capital you’re prepared to lose.
It’s great to see that the bitcoin network is growing rapidly. However, the rate of growth has become quite alarming lately as the network was not initially setup to handle this much traffic.
At the moment, each block in the bitcoin blockchain contains 1 Megabyte of data, which can hold approximately 1,000 to 2,000 transactions. Usually, it takes about 10 minutes to mine a block. So if there are more than a few thousand transactions in a short time it results in the network getting clogged and people can wait a long time for their transactions to be processed. Sometimes even a few days.
True, bitcoin is a decentralized currency so we don’t have any government or central bank deciding on monetary policy, but it’s clear here that the community needs to make a decision to improve the protocol.
Bitcoin is controlled by the miners. People who run the bitcoin software and confirm transactions. There are many different types of software that are used around the world. In the old days, you could mine bitcoins with a laptop. These days it requires a lot more computer power. So miners have begun to form groups called mining pools. They all link their computers together and when they mine a block, they divide the rewards among themselves.
There are about twenty major mining pools at the moment. These are the guys who are currently arguing about the best way to improve bitcoin.
So far there have been about 200 different proposals to improve bitcoin. Seeing that things were not moving, one of the proposals BIP148 put a hard deadline on this issue of August 1st. Less than two weeks from the time of this writing.
The goal of BIP148 is to force other miners to upgrade to the SegWit protocol. Without getting too technical, SegWit is a way of improving the bitcoin protocol in a way that each block can hold more transactions.
The idea is that anybody who does not upgrade their software to allow the implementation of SegWit will be rejected, causing a split (hard fork) in the network.
Wait… what’s a fork??
A hard fork is a major split that causes two different currencies to be created. This is what happened with Ethereum and Ethereum Classic about a year ago. Ether classic was the original form and Ethereum that we know today was the secondary currency that was created.
A soft fork is a simple change in protocol that does not split the network. For example, if everybody upgrades their software to BIP148 then it will upgrade the protocol to SegWit without causing a split. Of course, that’s a big IF.
However, some people were not happy with this solution. They quickly put together another proposal that would take effect before the August 1st deadline called SegWit2x.
The software that allows for SegWit2x should be available this Friday, July 21st and if it is adopted it will implement SegWit as a first step in the solution. Then, over the next six months will actually increase the block size from 1 MB to 2 MBs per block.
The setback is that this type of change to the bitcoin blocks would require the creation of a new currency. Yes, another possible hard fork.
For your convenience, we’ve put together a flow chart so that you can visualize the different possible paths that bitcoin faces at this time.
This image can also be found online at: http://imgur.com/a/0nWwn
Special thanks to everyone who helped put together this diagram. Our creative director Elior Abecsis, Moriah Waterland who is a leader in our efforts to put eToro on the blockchain, and Zach Chester our brand new Cryptocurrency Analyst.
Hoping that everything goes smoothly and wishing you a very pleasant day ahead.
This content is provided for information and educational purposes only and should not be considered to be a investment advice or recommendation.
The outlook presented is a personal opinion of the analyst and does not represent an official position of eToro.
Past performance is not an indication of future results. All trading involves risk; only risk capital you are prepared to lose.
Featured image from Shutterstock. Story image from eToro.
Technical Analysis: NEO Jumps as Broad Markets Turns Lower
As the new waves of regulatory changes keep on hitting the segment, the major cryptocurrencies are mostly lower today. After the major update of Ethereum, and the recent surge in the price of Bitcoin, choppy conditions developed, with no clear short-term trend in most of the coins.
NEO is the best performing major today, as it surged back to the $30 level after a frustrating period that was dominated by a downward drift. The coin is now just below the key resistance level, and it could be ready to test the $34 level, with a further target found at $40. The long-term picture still looks positive, with strong support levels at $27 and $25.
NEO/USDT, Daily Chart Analysis
Ethereum is in a consolidation after the encouraging rally towards the end of last week, while Bitcoin is also correction after its stellar rise. The two largest coins pulled the rest of the majors lower, while Ripple remained very volatile after touching the $0.30 level yesterday, trading below the $0.26 again.
Litecoin, Dash, Monero, and IOTA are all a bit lower today, while Ethereum Classic found some relative strength, although it remains stuck in a declining short-term trend. All in all, the segment is still in a clear uptrend, so let’s see which coins are the most promising regarding the short-term picture.
Bitcoin Takes a Breather as Prices Drop Below $5,700
The world’s most talked about digital currency pulled back early Tuesday, a sign that the latest rally is nearing its end.
BTC/USD Price Levels
After a positive start to the week, bitcoin prices have reversed back toward $5,600 on Tuesday. The BTC/USD exchange rate opened up a nearly $200 trading range on Tuesday. At press time, the pair was down 1.3% at $5,653. Bitcoin remains in overbought territory, based on the RSI, with underlying momentum maintained.
Bitcoin’s current price level translates into a market cap of roughly $92.7 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. That nearly triples the Ethereum blockchain, which is currently valued at $31.2 billion. When assessed by market cap, bitcoin and Ethereum combined account for more than two-thirds of the cryptocurrency asset class.
The BTC/USD has registered a five-day gain of 15.%, which is equivalent to $772. The pair’s 52-week range is $627.77 – $5,861.15.
Analysts Struggle to Explain Rally
Analysts and market participants are struggling to explain bitcoin’s latest upsurge. The uptrend seems to have begun around the time of news suggesting Chinese policymakers may soon relax their ban on cryptocurrency. However, this alone doesn’t explain the 18% gain over the past five days.
Another plausible catalyst is the anticipated hard fork of the bitcoin blockchain in November, a plan that would benefit existing holders of the cryptocurrency.
The developers behind the Segwit2x protocol have identified a bitcoin upgrade approximately 90 days after the activation of Segregated Witnesses. The controversial plan, which aims to increase the transaction capacity of the blockchain, will occur at block 494,784.
Bitcoin Gold was also on some traders’ wish list before the blockchain community raised suspicion over the project. Several red flags have been identified by Gert-Jaap Galsbergen, which you can read here.
For now, bitcoin’s bull market appears to be taking a breather. As we’ve seen in recent weeks, it doesn’t take much to stoke investor exuberance in a market that has gained nearly 500% since Jan. 1.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock
Technical Analysis: Ripple Breaks Out Amid Ethereum Upgrade
The major cryptocurrencies are on the rise once again today, with Ethereum’s major Byzantium update being in the center of attention. The second largest blockchain network has been updated through a hard fork, as usual, and the successful lock-in led to an initial surge in the price of the ETH token. The digital currency recovered above the $330 level after Sunday’s pull-back, but so far it failed to durably break-out above the prior swing high just above $340.
With the long-term momentum readings still being neutral, the coin could be on the verge of testing the $380 resistance soon, with the all-time high near $400 being the last major technical obstacle. Below $330 further support is found at $300 and $285.
ETH/USD, Daily Chart Analysis
Bitcoin is also on the rise after dipping below $5500 during the weekend, and the most valuable coin is joined in the rally by Ripple, which most likely finished its short-term correction and could be ready for another leg higher. The other majors are also generally higher, with NEO and IOTA being ahead of the pack, while the rest of the market trading near unchanged. As the broad rally seems to be well and alive, let’s see how the short-term charts are shaping up.
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