Bigger Blocks and Smarter Contracts: What’s In Bitcoin Cash’s Next Fork?

Bitcoin cash’s next software upgrade may be even more ambitious than its first – and that’s no small feat given last time it broke off from bitcoin in acrimonious fashion.

In fact, the update, announced in November and slated for May 15, packages together a number of features that all seem about helping the network process more transactions than the original bitcoin (while adding more variety to features). Perhaps most notably, the change will quadruple bitcoin cash’s block size parameter from 8 MB to 32 MB, allowing for vastly more transactions per block.

But while that might sound aggressive given bitcoin’s more limited approach, those who have been following the cryptocurrency might be surprised that such an aggressive shift wasn’t pursued sooner.

After all, last fall, bitcoin cash’s developers chose to ignore the protests of bitcoin’s more seasoned developers, who had long argued that increasing the block size and moving the cryptocurrency forward too fast could jeopardize the more than $157 billion network.

But that contrarian mentality has proved, at least partially, attractive – one bitcoin cash is going for a little less than $1,500 a coin, making it’s market cap more than $24 billion.

Indeed, Joshua Yabut, who contributes to the bitcoin cash protocol’s main software implementation, BitcoinABC, said he doesn’t expect any protest at all when users are finally given the choice to upgrade software.

Yabut told CoinDesk:

“Block size increases are kind of non-controversial at this point, but it’s nice to see on-chain scaling happen.”

Another area where the upcoming bitcoin cash hard fork looks to scale up is through the increase of the “OP_RETURN field,” where users can store added data on the blockchain, from 80 to 220 bytes.

It’s an easy change, but one that bitcoin cash developers say could have positive consequences, as the OP_RETURN function has been traditionally used by services that require time-stamping, asset creation, rights management and other use cases that expand the capabilities of blockchains

Return of the smart contracts

Not only did bitcoin cash developers pack in features, but they’ve also added back some of the old capabilities that bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto stripped from the protocol early on.

The most notable here is the addition of new kinds of smart contracts, or dynamic if-then programming statements that can give added functionality to how bitcoin cash tokens can pass between users.

In this case, the specific smart contracts in question were deactivated after Satoshi Nakamoto realized they could provide an attack vector, but bitcoin cash developers believe they’ve had enough time to seal up the holes.

“Essentially out of an abundance of caution and lack of time to fully explore and fix the edge cases that needed to be addressed, the decision was taken to simply disable any opcodes around which there were doubts or even hints of doubts,” said nChain developer Steve Shadders, in a blog post describing the features in bitcoin cash’s hard fork…

Read Full: Bigger Blocks and Smarter Contracts: What’s In Bitcoin Cash’s Next Fork?