On December 4th, 2017, an anonymous group of developers announced a new hard-fork in Bitcoin original algorithm. Dubbed Bitcoin Atom (BCA), the team plans to officially launch the new network as soon as the original Bitcoin’s network resolves its 505,888th block, which was expected to be on January 24th, 2018.
Another Fork in the Road
Bitcoin Atom is yet another fork added to an ever-increasing list of Blockchain divisors. In fact, since August 2017, when Bitcoin Cash fork was first made in Bitcoin’s protocol, we have constantly seen new derivatives being created, with each one claiming to be better than the last. Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Red… The list goes on and on. These forks in the Blockchain are all driven by the quest to find the perfect cryptocurrency that best meets the new demands of an ever-changing market.
Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin’s creator, had originally devised Bitcoin as an alternative to fiat currency as a means of payment. At first, one couldn’t help but appreciate the ingenuity and timeliness of its creation. But, with such a massive increase in demand for Bitcoin and Blockchain technology, the limitations and inadequacies of the network were quickly found out. And, although Bitcoin continues to fulfill its role as digital gold, it is becoming less practical as a means of payment.
As a result, the quest for the perfect Bitcoin seems quite legitimate. After all, each new variant offers something more than the last. But, that leaves many wondering if Bitcoin Atom will bring anything new to the table or is it just a replica of other coins that have been successful?
The Bitcoin Community and the Fork
First, it should be noted that there will never be a unanimous decision when it comes to a hard fork. It is this exact divergence of opinion regarding the Blockchain that creates a demand for a fork. This even fits with the Nakamoto’s vision, since he left the source code open so that it would be accessible to all.
Bitcoin has often been criticized for being too slow when it comes to validating blocks and for having transaction costs that are too high. According to its developers, Bitcoin Atom has been thought to be a more practical and easy-to-use version of its predecessor. The project has notably planned improvements to the Bitcoin’s protocol to allow the support the atomic swap. Also, there have been mentions of a future extension that would support a “Lightning Network”. These benefits mean that Bitcoin Atom will offer improvements both “on-chain” and “off-chain”.
Like other forks, Bitcoin Atom aims at bettering Bitcoin’s infrastructure by focusing on increasing speed and reducing transaction fees. Both speed and cost, have long been the biggest obstacles preventing mass adoption of the Bitcoin as a form of payment. Now, Bitcoin has much more value as a trading unit, rather than a means of payment.
The Atomic Swap and the Lightning Network
The Atomic Swap is a new feature that allows the exchange of one cryptocurrency for another, without the need of a third party. With traditional cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, a trusted third party, such as an exchange website, is required to perform an exchange. This prevents a party from sending virtual currency, without receiving any.
The new feature uses a time-locked contract to ensure that both parties involved in an exchange deliver their part of the deal within a certain amount of time. And, if one of the two parties fail to deliver within that timeframe, the transaction will automatically be canceled.
As for the Lightning Network, it is like a secondary payment protocol that runs over the entire Bitcoin Blockchain. This allows for much cheaper and much faster transactions between any participating nodes. This is the solution that Bitcoin Atom offers to the scalability problem of Bitcoin. It was officially launched in January but is still under development. It also implements a peer-to-peer system for making micropayments with digital currencies through a two-way payment network without the mediation of a middleman.
All these new features are being made in search of the “perfect Bitcoin”. The project’s coordinators have divulged that the network will offer both a POW (Proof of Work) and POS (Proof of Participation), like the Peercoin network.
Those who were already in possession of BTCs will be given an equivalent number of BCAs.
Pay Attention to the Scam
Now, many voices are speaking up and calling out Bitcoin Atom on the masquerade. They believe that Bitcoin Atom is nothing but a clone and does not really propose any real improvements. Also, BCA could be quite difficult to get your hands on since according to some rumors, the project will only have a few portfolios to support it. In fact, there will only be three exchange sites that will be offering BCA, namely, Yobit, Okex, and Exrates. And, the project’s website only indicates only indicates three portfolios: Coinomi, ESR and Atom Wallet.
Many believe that Bitcoin Atom has nothing original about it. For example, the BCA repository will rely on fork versions of Lightning with code extracted from Elements, Acing, Lightning Labs. As well as an Atomic Exchange code from Decred, Altcoin.io, and others. Other than that, the repository does not show much of anything created by the development team themselves. This proves nothing other than that they can set up a functional network.
It also seems that the project is having a lot of trouble trying to convince people of its merits. As can be seen from the graph below, BCA arrived on the market at about $1,400. Then, after a brief rise, its price has now been in a continuous downward trend.
Today, 2 BCA only trades at about $35 USD, and unfortunately, nothing seems to indicate that its price will go up anytime soon.