Scandal and infighting as ‘bitcoin cash’ threatens to overthrow the most famous cryptocurrency

A picture taken on February 6, 2018 shows a visual representation of the digital crypto-currency Bitcoin, at the “Bitcoin Change” shop in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv. / AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZJACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

In the beginning Satoshi Nakamoto created bitcoin and the blockchain. And the blockchain was without rival and bitcoin was without worth and only a fringe group known as cypher punks saw the technology and said that it was good.

When the Genesis Block of bitcoin appeared in January 2009, two months after a paper describing the “peer-to-peer electronic cash system”, its small group of followers realised the cryptocurrency held the potential to rip a hole right through the traditional financial system.

At the time, the world was still reeling from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, a historical moment noted by bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator in a message embedded in the first block of bitcoins: “Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.”

Bitcoin’s promise lay in the fact that as the world’s first decentralized digital currency, it was a payment outside the scope of banks and governments and therefore immune to the pressures and whims of such institutions.

But almost 10 years on, while its potential to disrupt the established financial order is still being realised, the only thing that has actually torn apart is bitcoin itself.

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