What is Bitcoin SV (BSV)?

Learn more about what makes this hard fork so different.

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Bitcoin SV Coin

Bitcoin SV is an infamous cryptocurrency in some ways, but it also has some devoted followers.

This guide explains where it came from, what makes it technically different to other projects and where it might be going.

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of cryptocurrency or any specific provider, service or offering. It is not a recommendation to trade.

What is Bitcoin SV?

Bitcoin Satoshi's Vision, more commonly known as Bitcoin SV (BSV), is a hard fork of Bitcoin Cash.

Craig Wright, Bitcoin SV and the nChain website all agree that their goal is to restore Bitcoin to its original form.

They argue that the changes made to Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash over the years are perversions of Satoshi Nakamoto's vision and that Bitcoin should be returned as close as possible to the description first laid out in the original Bitcoin whitepaper.

A core part of the Bitcoin SV ideology is the belief that nefarious developers hijacked Bitcoin in its early days and that their changes need to be undone.

The Bitcoin SV team is led by Craig Wright, who has often claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto.

Bitcoin SV price

Where did Bitcoin SV come from?

During the Bitcoin vs Bitcoin Cash fork in 2017, BSV supporters followed the Bitcoin Cash side, determining it to be closer to Satoshi Nakamoto's original vision.

But when they felt that Bitcoin Cash was straying from Satoshi's vision, there was another schism.

This schism involved two main groups of Bitcoin Cash developers:

  • Bitcoin ABC - team Bitcoin Cash: This group is generally regarded as the core development team of Bitcoin Cash.
  • nChain - team Bitcoin SV: A blockchain research and mining company led by Craig Wright, who has often claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto – the original creator of Bitcoin. nChain created Bitcoin SV.

The schism came about when Bitcoin ABC proposed a substantial update to Bitcoin Cash, which nChain disagreed with. nChain then proposed a separate, incompatible update.

The two updates

The Bitcoin ABC proposal

The main part of Bitcoin ABC's update was the addition of two new pieces of code called "OP_CHECKDATASIG" and "OP_CHECKDATASIGVERIFY".

These allow the Bitcoin Cash blockchain to read information that isn't strictly part of a cryptocurrency transaction.

It's essentially a foundation for smart contracts on the Bitcoin Cash blockchain to let it do more sophisticated things than just send and receive transactions.

They argued that this code would let Bitcoin Cash evolve and be used for a wider range of purposes.

The nChain proposal

nChain disagreed with the addition of new code, arguing that it took Bitcoin Cash further from its primary purpose as a digital currency and muddied Satoshi Nakamoto's original vision.

In its own update, nChain proposed the restoration of two very old pieces of code, called OP_LSHIFT and OP_RSHIFT. These appeared in the earliest versions of Bitcoin but were removed because they were not necessary and added potential security risks.

At the same time, nChain suggested quadrupling the Bitcoin Cash block size from 32MB to 128MB, arguing that continually growing block sizes were what Satoshi Nakamoto originally intended.

A larger block size improved network throughput at the cost of introducing some other downsides.

Neither side was willing to compromise with the other, so both publicly released their updates and forced miners to choose which one they'd install.

The result was inconclusive as nChain had its own extensive mining operations, while crypto mining giant Bitmain threw its support behind the Bitcoin ABC updates.

Today, we have Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV as separate cryptocurrencies, while BSV's supporters see it as the last remaining "true Bitcoin".

As one supporter said following the creation of BSV:

"If Bitcoin SV had not stood its ground and preserved the rules of Bitcoin in SV, yesterday would have been the last day Bitcoin existed in this world."

Bitcoin SV technical features

nChain's OP_LSHIFT and OP_RSHIFT proposals have little or no functional impact on how the cryptocurrency works, so its main technical point of difference is a large block size.

Bitcoin SV has continued to raise its block size since the fork, as per its interpretation of Satoshi's vision, with both good and bad effects.

  • The main benefit of this is that it gives the Bitcoin SV network extremely high throughput. Its large block size has room to handle countless transactions. However, Bitcoin SV's theoretical capacity now massively exceeds its actual usage, so this advantage is purely hypothetical.
  • The downside is that it makes it more difficult for blocks to propagate through the blockchain network and raises the risk of incidental forks.

The future of Bitcoin SV: Things to consider

Some Bitcoin SV supporters have argued that Satoshi Nakamoto's vision was perfect and that any cryptocurrency that maintains the original characteristics and features of Satoshi Nakamoto's original Bitcoin is therefore destined to succeed.

And in interviews, Craig Wright has said that Bitcoin was always intended to run out of a few centralised, professionally-operated data centres and that the censorship-resistant decentralised network of Bitcoin miners was the result of Bitcoin being hijacked for criminal purposes.

On its website, nChain similarly describes Bitcoin SV as a tool for enterprise use.

The following are some factors to consider when trying to gauge the future likelihood of Bitcoin SV's success:

  • Whether enterprise customers have any need for a centralised blockchain system
  • Whether enterprise customers have any need for a blockchain whose sole function is to move BSV tokens
  • Whether enterprise customers will be sufficiently impressed by Bitcoin SV's adherence to Satoshi's vision that they will select Bitcoin SV for all their digital token transferring needs
  • Whether claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto is a good strategy for attracting enterprise users

Trading and holding Bitcoin SV

You can hold Bitcoin SV with many of the same wallets that support Bitcoin Cash, while all of the following exchanges offer BSV trading.

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Disclaimer: Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information. You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.

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