Major Bitcoin Forks
The forking of cryptocurrency, also known as crypto hard fork, or just fork, is a process of upgrading a blockchain network to a new version that usually comes with a new set of rules for the network, as well as for the network participants.
Hard fork usually results in generating an entirely new network with different rules, also minting a new cryptocurrency based on the changed rules of the network. Forks work by making radical changes to the existing protocol of a blockchain network, granting access to the new chain only for those network users who agree to accept the changes.
Why Do Crypto Forks Happen?
Forks will often result in changes without having a newly minted crypto joining the market; however, many forks still result in the introduction of a new coin at the end of the process. This is the case with numerous Bitcoin forks as well. In these case scenarios, changes made through forks are created permanently, functioning to change the way the network nodes are working, changing valid transactions to invalid along the way as long as these transactions are being made on the old version of the blockchain network.
Many blockchain networks and development teams behind cryptocurrency projects residing on open-source networks have agreed to make changes in the form of forks in order to increase security, repair bugs, or switch to more cost-effective and efficient protocols; however, some forks are due to creating new crypto projects that are intended to represent improved versions of the chain being forked.
That is how we've ended up with some major Bitcoin forks competing against the top crypto with promises to offer an improved version of the Bitcoin network, making transactions faster, fees lower, and the network protocols more energy-efficient.
There are over 100 different Bitcoin fork projects, of which 70 per cent are considered to be active; however, only some Bitcoin forks can be considered as major.
Litecoin is definitely one of the top cryptocurrencies in the market despite previously having some major downfalls when it comes to the market price. It also represents the first fork of Bitcoin. Known as “Bitcoin’s little brother” and the “silver” to Bitcoin’s “gold”, Litecoin has also earned an individual identity as one of the top cryptos, with Charlie Lee at the head of the development team.
The former Google employee had a plan to utilize Bitcoin blockchain as a base for creating a newly minted coin that would be built on the same philosophy as the top crypto, only with faster completion of transactions, lower transaction fees, and more energy-efficient mining.
By changing the algorithms of the Bitcoin blockchain and creating a new set of rules, Litecoin created a block time of 2.5 minutes, as opposed to Bitcoin’s 10 minutes, making LTC transactions faster and more cost-effective than the original rules of the network.
Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) arrived as another Bitcoin fork, but it came years after the first Bitcoin fork of Charlie Lee’s Litecoin (LTC). In 2017, Bitcoin Cash appeared as a new prominent fork built on the changed rules of the Bitcoin network. While the Litecoin project had a goal to make transactions faster when compared to Bitcoin transactions, the Bitcoin Cash development team wanted to increase the number of transactions being made within a given timeframe.
Bitcoin Cash was set to improve scalability issues that still represent a burning issue for many blockchain networks, which is why BCH developers decided to change the block size in order to enable greater traffic on the network without having issues with network cluster and downtime. By increasing the number of transactions and keeping up a constant speed of transactions, Bitcoin Cash soon became one of the major Bitcoin forks even though security concerns were raised on the cost of increasing the number of transactions.
Bitcoin Gold (BTG)
While the Litecoin project aimed to create faster transactions and Bitcoin Cash had a goal to increase the number of transactions within a given timeframe, Bitcoin Gold (BTG) developers wanted to restore the original vision of Bitcoin network in terms of making Bitcoin mining less competitive.
With Bitcoin, mining became contingent on which miner has stronger and more efficient mining equipment, giving AISC miners and major mining companies a monopoly on the process, as opposed to the original vision of Bitcoin, which anyone could join and participate in the mining and validation process and get rewarded in exchange for validating transactions on the chain.
Bitcoin Gold thus operates as one of the major Bitcoin forks; however, the crypto has a changed algorithm based on the original Bitcoin chain that allows miners to mine the currency from their own computers, thus removing the monopoly held by ASIC miners over Bitcoin mining and promoting decentralization.
Bitcoin SV (BSV)
Although Bitcoin SV (BSV) wasn’t directly generated as a Bitcoin fork, the crypto still runs on the original algorithm of Bitcoin blockchain. Derived from Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and representing a split coin as a result of splitting from the Bitcoin Cash network, Bitcoin SV (Satoshi Vision) is perhaps one of the most controversial forks in the history of Bitcoin-related forking. It's led by Craig Wright, who is also known as “Fake Satoshi”.
Trying to prove he was the man behind Bitcoin working under the alias of “Satoshi Nakamoto”, Craig Wright wasn’t able to convince anyone he was the inventor of the first and top cryptocurrency.
However, with the appearance of Bitcoin SV and the splitting of the Bitcoin Cash network, the development team headed by Wright has one goal: to restore the initial values of the Bitcoin blockchain through a newly minted crypto known as BSV. The goal of the project is to keep the original protocol of the Bitcoin network while working on improving scalability.
Despite the fact that Bitcoin has over 100 different forks, of which the majority represents active projects, the original cryptocurrency still holds the record in number of active wallets, transactions, price, and market cap. The future is sure to see many more of these forks to come.