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BTCC COO Samson Mow: Without Consensus on Block-size Limit, Stakeholders Might Implement an Increase

Op-ed - BTCC COO Samson Mow: Without Consensus on Block-size Limit

BTCC Chief Operating Officer Samson Mow indicated that the leading Chinese mining pool and exchange supports an incremental increase of Bitcoin's block-size limit to 8 megabytes in order to buy time for alternative solutions to be developed.

Moreover, Mow believes the Bitcoin industry might opt to raise Bitcoin's block-size limit even if no consensus is found among the Bitcoin Core development community.

“If there is no consensus soon, I could see a situation where stakeholders make a decision to implement a small increase,” Mow said. “Without bigger blocks, a fee market will develop, increasing the cost of transactions, and we believe it’s too soon for that to happen.”

Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, the COO of the prominent Chinese Bitcoin company formerly known as BTCChina, explained that he believes the long-lasting block-size limit debate is more than a debate regarding the specific block-size parameter. Rather, Mow says, there is a deeper issue at play.

“The core of the issue is actually about what Bitcoin will be,” Mow said. “If we can answer the question of what we all want Bitcoin to be, then the answer to the question of whether the block size needs to be increased will come naturally. Bitcoin can’t be free (as in zero cost), secure, and decentralized all at once and in perpetuity. An extreme view would be: free, secure, decentralized; pick two.”

Given this trade-off, and much like Bitcoin's “decentralists,” Mow considers “secure and decentralized” the most sensible choice in the long term. However, and more closely aligned with proponents of a block-size limit increase, Mow believes that Bitcoin transactions should remain cheap and accessible for now, in order to attract new users. Meanwhile, developers can improve Bitcoin's fee market mechanisms and alternative scalability solutions, such as the Lightning Network.

“Being free and secure is great for getting more people to use Bitcoin and growing the market cap,” Mow said. “As we don’t have a production-ready solution to scale Bitcoin, we should consider increasing the block size so we can drive adoption in the near term.”

An incremental increase to 8 megabytes over four years, as proposed by Blockstream CEO and hashcash inventor Dr. Adam Back, therefore, makes a lot of sense for BTCC. Another favored solution is Bitcoin Core developer Jeff Garzik's BIP 100, which allows miners to vote on the block-size limit up until a hard cap of 32 megabytes.

“The '2-4-8' proposal is a good solution for the short term until we can figure out how to really scale Bitcoin,” Mow explained. “It will let us move incrementally and measure the results carefully. We will only be able to fully understand the impact on the network by scaling block size incrementally. Alternatively, we think BIP 100 is a good option, too, because it is flexible and allows for increases and decreases of the block size as needed. BIP 100 also makes Bitcoin more decentralized in that it reduces reliance on core developers to make adjustments in accordance with market conditions.”

Lastly, BIP 101 is still off the table for BTCC. This proposal, which was implemented in alternative Bitcoin implementation Bitcoin XT last summer, is programmed to increase the maximum block size to 8 megabytes if a threshold of 75 percent of mining power accepts the change. Once activated, this limit is set to double every two years for 20 years, ultimately leading to an 8 gigabyte block-size limit.

While prominent industry members such as Coinbase, Bitstamp and others have publicly backed BIP 101, BTCC believes it will increase the block-size limit too fast and too uncontrollably.

“BTCC will not support BIP 101. It’s simply far too risky to have automatic scaling in the manner proposed,” Mow said. “BIP 101 presumes that its formula for increasing block size is the right one for the next 20 years, which is either incredibly arrogant or incredibly reckless. For me, the key take-away from the talks at Scaling Bitcoin in Montreal is that we really don’t know how the network will perform with larger blocks.”

BTCC was one of the first and is one of the biggest bitcoin exchanges in China, and is available in an increasing number of countries outside of China as well. Additionally, BTCC's mining pool controls some 13 percent of hashing power on the Bitcoin network, while the company also provides a wallet service.

Recently, BTCC launched a new BlockPriority service, which guarantees its customers that their transactions will be included in the first block that the BTCC pool mines.

“BlockPriority was developed to protect our customers from attacks on the network or confirmation delays because blocks are full,” Mow explained. “But the other reason was to emphasize the block-size issue. Although BlockPriority reduces the impact of the block-size debate on BTCC and our users, we still prefer a block-size increase. Ideally, there would be no need for BlockPriority.”