Saturday, June 23, 2018

A Terrifying Future For Bitcoin - Chain Death Spiral

Oh No - Not another Bitcoin obituary! We have had lots of that. But .... 

10 Years
In another 6 months Bitcoin would be 10 years old. The technology should have matured by now with mass adoption worldwide. Its' aim was to be the financial platform for every decentralised financial application. Sadly after steady increase in adoption over the early years, growth has now stalled.

Bitcoin could not scale and time has run out. Lightning cannot be a solution because it depends on users first owning some bitcoin. Preaching to the converted is not a recipe for mass adoption.

Bitcoin Cash moved in with the promise of unlimited blocksize and unlimited transactions. However since inception in August the number of transactions have not increased.

This means that Bitcoin Cash is also not able to gain users apart from the disillusioned initial converts who moved over from Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash could not built on or inherit all the existing infrastructure. Herein lies the problem - It may not have the time.

This phenomenon whereby Bitcoin chain slows down and finally grinds to a halt because it is unable to react to a sudden drop in miner defection, is still in play. Thus far the price of Bitcoin have kept mining profitable. This stage is fast coming to an end.

Bitmain has just stopped mining with S7 on Hashnest leaving only S9. 

As of today at a BTC price of $6100 the profit margin for BTC mining on Hashnest is 22.5%. Bitmain's S9 are the most efficient industrial miners in use today. When BTC price was $8000 the profit margin was around 60%. I believe that mining with S9 will be unprofitable if BTC's price falls below $5000.

For mining to remain profitable at $5000, the mining difficulty must decrease. Miners will shut down operations or moved to mining Bitcoin Cash which also means that the price of Bitcoin Cash must increase. If this process takes place in an orderly fashion then BTC price and BCH price will converge to equality. However this process will hardly be orderly or even predictable. If  BTC loses miners suddenly, the death spiral will set in. But will Bitcoin Cash be the winner even with BTCs' demise?

It really depends of how the future shapes out for crypto. Will there be many coins for different purposes, will there be one coin to rule them all or will there be only one coin? This has yet to be determined.

The more important question is, upon which protocol will all or most decentralised financial applications be built? Before we answer this question we have to consider another fundamental blockchain issue. Proof Of Work or Proof Of Stake.

This is a security issue. Proof of Work implies that the cost of a 51% attack is so exorbitant in the case of BTC that even governments will not attempt it. This makes BTC the most valuable blockchain because it is the most secure. Proof of Stake implies that the people owning the tokens will not attack their own basis of  wealth. Which of these two system is more secure or should we have a hybrid system like what Ethereum is proposing.

In technology two things are evident. Good enough is enough for a technology to be adopted. Take the example of TCP/IP. From mere packet transfers to online streaming today. The technology need not be perfect to start with. Users will put up with the quirks because the benefits outweighs the inconvenience. The second is being first to market. Bitcoin was first to market and has remained unassailable thus far. 

My current belief is that Proof of Stake is good enough. This is proven by Bitshares and Steemit. These two systems are still operating live, and now occupy the number 1 and 2 spots in transactions activity. 

I predict that EOS will be first to market as the protocol upon which most or all financial applications will be built. EOS is the first blockchain protocol that can scale and be used at an enterprise and industry level. You can fit all of Steemit and Bitshares in it and still have room for more.

A bigger and better Steemit 2.0 will be built by Block One on EOS. Bitshares is poised to move to EOS. Everipedia an improved version of Wikipedia is set to launch on EOS. You could build versions of  Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and more on EOS. The advantage is that you do not need to run your own servers to do so. Imagine running an operation like Facebook without investing in the servers and specialist personnel to maintain them. Yes that can be done on EOS. Every existing centralised social media platform can be cloned, disrupted and displaced. I expect that most of the existing centralised social media platform, will move to EOS, before they are disrupted because they can and the cost savings are enormous.

A new world is upon us. Aptly named DAWN. Will it spell the end for Bitcoin? Maybe, maybe Not, but the future is exciting.