In January 2018, Rett Creighton, creator of Bitcoin Private and the now abandoned Zclassic, announced the intention to create another Bitcoin fork. Creighton called it a Spork. It was going to be a fork of Zclassic as well and have its zk-SNARKs technology for privacy. Having a meaningful feature made Bitcoin Private likely to succeed. This article takes a look at Bitcoin Private, the earlier Bitcoin forks, and what would keep Bitcoin Private relevant in the future.
A Bit of Fork History
It all started with Bitcoin Cash. This fork of Bitcoin occurred on 1st August 2017. The whole point of this split in the Bitcoin protocol was to reduce congestion and transaction fees on the Bitcoin network by increasing the block size of Bitcoin from 1 MB to 8 MB. Some members of the Bitcoin community felt the fork would once and for all settle the scaling debate that had divided the community. Others feared that the fork would be the beginning of the end of Bitcoin.
The exact opposite was the case when the price of Bitcoin continued to soar post-fork. At the same time, the price of Bitcoin Cash did not go to zero but oscillated above and below 300 dollars initially. This is how it all began and was basically free money for all who held Bitcoin in wallets they controlled. Forks were good, after all.
If forks were good, then more of it would not hurt anyone. Right? Next up was Bitcoin Gold on 24 October 2017. This one was touted as a “friendly fork”. This meant the Bitcoin Gold team was not hostile to Bitcoin and had no intentions of competing to be the “real Bitcoin.” Bitcoin Gold’s selling point was “making Bitcoin decentralized again”. To achieve this, Bitcoin Gold’s mining algorithm would allow anybody to mine using GPUs by giving specialized miners no advantage.
The Bitcoin Gold fork came off eventually despite some hitches. The Bitcoin Gold team got a lot of flak for having a pre-mine. The team mined some Bitcoin Gold before the public was able to get involved. The excuse was that the funds from the pre-mined coins would be used for marketing and paying developers. To many, it was all just a cash grab.
The criticisms aside, Bitcoin Gold also has value and still survives. It is listed on several exchanges and supported by multiple wallets. There is even the BTGPay program which is making progress with merchant adoption for Bitcoin Gold. More free money for all involved.
Following Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold, it was generally expected that there would be a “fork craze” similar to the ICO craze. There was a fork craze. It just didn’t last too long. Dozens of coins tried to replicate the Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold success but by the end of January 2018, it was obvious all of them had failed. Most of these projects were shady and/or shoddy. Others were clearly jokes. It wasn’t so easy to make free money after all.
Bitcoin Private Spork
Just when it seemed all possible Bitcoin variations had been exhausted, the Bitcoin Private fork was announced. As the name suggests, the privacy feature was to be added to Bitcoin. This was to be done by forking Zclassic into Bitcoin and come up with the new Bitcoin Private. Zclassic was a fork of Zcash and also had the zk-SNARKS technology for shielded transactions.
This interesting fork seemed destined for success. Here was a friendly fork with an important feature. It is hard to argue against the need for privacy on Bitcoin.
The whole process of coming out with the fork was community-driven. Zclassic already had an existing community behind it. This is a good advantage for a newly created cryptocurrency to have. For instance, on Twitter, discord, Reddit, and Telegram, Bitcoin Private had and still has a larger following than Bitcoin Gold. Funding for the whole project also came from donations.
The team behind Bitcoin Private was also very open about plans and events leading up to the fork. Care was taken not to rush things, but make sure everything that had to be done was done properly. In all, it could be said that the fork was generally handled well.
With all these positives in mind, there were quite a number of speculators predicting that the price of Bitcoin Private would fall somewhere between that of Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold. Most of the few who dared to predict the price settled at $500.
In the few days leading to the fork snapshot on 28th February 2018, the price of Zclassic dropped sharply from over a $100 to about $10 dollars eventually. Perhaps, this was a sign of the things to come.
Slow Start, Bear Market to Blame?
Historical data from CoinMarketCap.com shows that Bitcoin Private opened at $65.82. The opening price of $65.82 falls way below that of both Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold which both opened above $500. We could still be in the price discovery stage, but considering the effort involved in creating the coin and expectations of Zclassic buyers, the initial price levels for the first few weeks was a little bit disappointing.
What could be the reason(s) for this? Maybe the desire for privacy is overestimated. The cryptocurrency community might also be tired of forks. We could also blame the recent bear market. In my opinion, the latter seems more plausible. With relatively less interest in cryptocurrencies following the recent massive drop in prices, the market seems to have run out of buyers to push price up. We might have to wait till the next cryptocurrency boom to see where Bitcoin Private truly stands.
In fact, the price has began to show promise as we see signs of another bull run. At the time of writing, Bitcoin private sits at the 24th position on coinmarketcap.com. This is just one place behind Bitcoin gold, the other popular Bitcoin fork. The price is still below the opening price but has seen tremendous increase in the last couple of days.
It’s Still Early Days, Increased Adoption Would Do The Trick
The importance of privacy cannot be overstated. However, there are quite a number of privacy-focused coins with little patronage. The name Bitcoin also helps, but other failed forks have shown that simply adding the name is not enough. Adoption is most likely to be the ultimate deciding factor when it comes to the future of Bitcoin Private. Should it become the privacy-focused cryptocurrency of choice, Bitcoin Private would definitely rank higher up the list. If it somehow doesn’t, then my guess is we might not see another fork for some time. I say so because Bitcoin Private did almost everything right.