Wagers really don’t settle matters, but they are a lot of fun and force advocates to have some skin in the game. In the ongoing debate about scaling, network fees, congestion and mempools, the Lightning Network is Bitcoin Core’s answer. Some in the ecosystem have doubted its efficacy. A bet was placed. If a payment failed, as opponents assured it would, the Core advocate would have to wear a bitcoin cash (BCH) t-shirt. If it succeeded, the BCH advocate would wear a Blockstream t-shirt from their Lightning store.
A Bet in the Bitcoin World Can Be Outrageous or Just Plain Fun
Whatever else anyone thinks about bitcoiners, the ecosystem does have its share of characters. One of the most visible is presidential candidate, software magnate, rebel John McAfee. Using mathematical gymnastics and various theories, Mr. McAfee arrived at the price of $500,000 for one bitcoin core (BTC) by 2020. His Twitter followers were blown away, and so Mr. McAfee goaded them into betting. When challenged further, on 17 July 2017, Mr. McAfee tweeted, “if not, I will eat my dick on national television.” Even after the price dropped, he reportedly doubled down, insisting BTC would reach $1,000,000 in that time. There are people monitoring the price to see if it’s on pace. One snarky columnist even suggested wines to pair with Mr. McAfee’s proposal.
Thankfully, not everyone in the space bets their reproductive organs. In fact, sometimes it just comes down to a t-shirt and bragging rights. Felix Weis isn’t some bitcoin core believing noob. He’s a well-regarded software engineer, researcher, and developer with a deep knowledge of computer science and cryptography. He’s also a world traveler who once trekked all over the globe for a year and a half, famously documenting his use of bitcoin in the process. He’s regularly tapped to explain ongoings and developments in the bitcoin core world. No slouch, he.
He’s also an advocate for scaling the bitcoin core network using such layers as the Lightning Network. In theory, smaller transactions happen in sidechains instead of on the main Bitcoin blockchain. Those transacting with one another would settle at an agreed time. Side chains as such would be governed by nodes, and fees might encourage more nodes to be run, in theory resulting in more decentralization. Faster times, lower fees, less congestion are its promises.
The problem, according to opponents, is many fold. So far, adoption of the Segwit, the enabling technology, and Lightning Network has been slow. It’s also thought to be unreliable. In addition, opponents are often happy to point out alternatives such as bitcoin cash already exist, do not need yet another software solution (no matter how elegant), and can scale just fine.
A Simple Demonstration
Roger Ver, CEO of Bitcoin.com (owner of news.Bitcoin.com), is perhaps the best known advocate for bitcoin cash, an oft-proposed counter to the Segwit-based solutions like the Lightning Network. Mr. Ver has a habit of challenging those who talk a good game to put their money where their mouth is, and he loves to bet. His most recent wager happened with Felix Weis while Mr. Ver was in Hong Kong, attending the latest Bloomberg conference. The two met up at Genesis Block, an over the counter trading floor for digital currencies.
The proposal was for Mr. Weis to diligently prove to Mr. Ver his concerns were misplaced, and to do so on the spot by purchasing small items from the Blockstream store (in this case, stickers). The entire transaction would entail a tad under $9. The store serves as a testing model for bitcoin core supporters, and it comes with a giant warning about the possibility of losing funds.
Mr. Ver is provided the necessary wallet address while, and to keep things square, Mr. Weis manipulates the transaction. In a video Weis clicks here, clicks there. Mr. Ver asks Mr. Weis to make sure all the necessary parameters are met, including enough of a transaction amount to matter. Clicks, clicks. While they wait, Mr. Ver asks congregants, “Do you happen to know offhand how much money is tied up in the Lightning Network worldwide? Just about 12 bitcoins for the entire world,” he claims. “Alright,” Mr. Weis alerts, “there you have it,” as his smartphone is shown to the camera. Everything seems in order. Suddenly, a message reads pending. “Uh oh,” Mr. Ver ribs, smiling. “Pending! Looks like a BCH shirt is coming for Felix here!” The smartphone screen goes deep maroon, purplish-ish, announcing fail. Mr. Ver chuckles, shakes Mr. Weis’ hand, explaining how he really does hope it works one day, but that it will always work better on the Bitcoin Cash blockchain.
Regardless of where one stands on the scaling debate, clearly these two fellows understand the importance of civility and good-natured ribbing.
What do you think of such wagers? Do they prove anything? Let us know in the comments section below.
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