Bitcoin Cash is increasing its block size to 32MB and adding smart contract capability with a new implementation starting on May 15th. Will this be the next “Ethereum killer” or just help Bitcoin Cash gain a more competitive edge on the market? NChain, the blockchain firm behind these new changes, claims, “Bigger blocks, faster speed, and lower transaction fees,” allow Bitcoin Cash to “fulfill the Satoshi Nakamoto white paper’s vision – a peer-to-peer electronic cash system”.

Currencies VS Platforms

Right now, both Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash are just cryptocurrencies, but Bitcoin originally had code allowing for smart contracts within its first implementation. If Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency set up to use smart contracts, why is Ethereum the currency and platform most known for them?

A Little Backstory – Why isn’t Bitcoin Running Smart Contracts?

In 1996, Cryptographer Nick Szabo outlined the first idea of a smart contract in plans for BitGold. BitGold was an idea for a cryptocurrency backed b Though BitGold was never released, Szabo is believed to be one of the early contributors to creating Bitcoin. It’s rumored Bitcoin’s original coding had groundwork allowing for smart contracts. When developers found security flaws in Satoshi’s original implementation, as a precaution, they started disabling sections of code that could leave the currency vulnerable to crashes. In the process, they disabled the op_codes responsible for smart contract capabilities. In the years following, Bitcoin was slow to add new implementations, creating frustration for some early collaborators and community members.

Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum

This decision to limit Bitcoin’s functionality by the core members of Bitcoin partially inspired the creation of Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash to fill these needs. Longtime Bitcoin devotee Vitalik Buterin left his supportive role as a voice in Bitcoin Magazine to co-found Ethereum in late 2013. Ethereum became the first blockchain platform capable of actually running smart contracts. A few years later, Bitcoin Cash forked from Bitcoin to increase its block size to 8 MB and remove the SegWit code change added by the core Bitcoin team of developers.

Well, Here We Are…

In less than a month, the changes to add smart contracts to Bitcoin Cash go live, also increasing the block size from 8 MB to 32 MB.  A release from the BitPrim Project explains the plan is to release “two upgrades per year (May and November).” Each time an implementation is added, all of its new features are frozen “to guarantee the quality of the testing and giving time for the ecosystem to update”. Bitcoin Cash is expected to have basic smart contract functionality: carrying out multisignature transactions, escrow contracts, and lock and release contracts, but not yet reaching the complex robustness that exists on the Ethereum platform. As these new updates go live, transaction speeds on the BCH blockchain will increase while fees decrease as well.

A Controversial Partnership

While many investors and members of the Bitcoin Cash community are excited for these planned improvements, there’s controversy around the software company behind it. One of the key players at nChain, Craig Wright, has claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the original founder of Bitcoin. Others call him the fake Satoshi, not believing his claims. Wright has been part of Bitcoin since the beginning, and is considered a brilliant computer scientist by many. Even though he retracted his claim in the last year, there’s still a large amount of controversy attached to his name, and many are skeptical over nChain’s role in Bitcoin Cash because of it.

A Brighter Future for Bitcoin Cash

The increased block size is likely to make Bitcoin Cash a more competitive platform for sending and receiving cryptocurrency though it’s not clear whether more investors will flock to it as a result. With a steady plan of releasing upgrades, the core team at Bitcoin Cash is showing an organized approach to updates. When its smart contracts go live, Bitcoin Cash could become a decentralized application platform with a faster block size than Ethereum. This all sounds exciting, we’ll see what happens in the coming months.