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What is the Bitcoin blocksize debate?

  • April 7, 2016

In case you have used bitcoin recently, then chances are that you may have heard about the blocksize limit controversy. While not many people focus on its importance, the debate has the potential of either facilitating worldwide bitcoin adoption, or leading to its end.

At this moment in time, blocks are limited to 1MB in size. This means that miners can only mine blocks up to this limit, with any larger blocks being considered as invalid. While the limit worked fairly well until now, as bitcoin continues to be adopted by more and more people, a larger number of transactions will be carried out. If no changes are made, then this could lead to a considerable delay in transactions being verified. In return, the issue will likely influence people to shy away from the digital currency, while also drastically increasing transaction fees to prioritize certain transactions.

Currently, there are both arguments in favour and against increasing the blocksize. The main argument in favour is of more transactions per second, thus leading to a larger network. In comparison, those who are against the blocksize limit increase believe that there is risk of catastrophic consensus failure (hard forks require sufficient consensus from the bitcoin community), a disadvantage of European/American pools in comparison to the Chinese ones, but also higher transaction fees, mining becoming unprofitable, and centralization.

Currently, there are a couple of proposals to slowly increase the blocksize limit, with others aiming to increase it considerably. As there are arguments both in favour and against the move, the bitcoin network needs consensus in order to facilitate the change. Otherwise, bitcoin could potentially spread into separate payment networks, thus leading to the currency’s demise.

Based on everything that has been outlined so far, the blocksize debate will continue to stir people up, until consensus is reached.