A new bitcoin fork called UnitedBitcoin appears to have the backing of one of the earliest Bitcoin developers.
The success of bitcoin cash, and, to a lesser extent, bitcoin gold, has incentivized developers to attempt to turn a profit by hard forking the main Bitcoin blockchain to create new altcoins. At least seven forks will take place during the month of December, and more will likely follow, at least until “fork fatigue” sets in and the scheme is no longer profitable.
Like most of these forks, it is difficult to identify the purpose of UnitedBitcoin (UBTC), but, oddly enough, this project appears to have backing from one of the biggest names in the cryptocurrency space: Jeff Garzik.
When UnitedBitcoin first claimed to have support from Garzik, many people believed it was a hoax. However, Garzik confirmed the news in an interview with Bloomberg, and he apparently promoted UnitedBitcoin at a tech event this week.
One of the earliest Bitcoin developers, Garzik also served as lead developer for SegWit2x, a contentious Bitcoin protocol upgrade that was ultimately called off just days before it was set to activate. Garzik is also currently working on Metronome, a cross-blockchain cryptocurrency that will be distributed through an ICO-style auction.
Purportedly, UnitedBitcoin will introduce a number of new technologies into the codebase, including native support for smart contracts and a lightning network. Like Bitcoin Cash, the new blockchain will also feature 8MB blocks, demonstrating a commitment to on-chain scaling.
“UB is not looking to replace Bitcoin, but rather is looking to support the progression of the ecosystem by introducing new technologies faster,” said Garzik in a press release. “We look forward to this exciting next phase in Bitcoin’s evolution.”
Matthew Roszak, who — along with Garzik — co-founded blockchain firm Bloq, concurred, lauding UnitedBitcoin for its support for innovative features.
“This ecosystem is a movie, not a static picture – the pace of innovations being developed in this industry is incredible. UB has created a platform and philosophy of adopting new features and functions for a broad community of market participants,” said Roszak in the announcement.
But while the project may have nominal backing from Garzik and Bloq, it is not clear to what extent the firm is involved in the project or whether Garzik has even reviewed the code. A cursory glance at the UnitedBitcoin GitHub repository reveals that Garzik has not made any commits to the project — a very different scenario from SegWit2x.
This is troubling, especially considering that UnitedBitcoin’s marketing materials heavily emphasize his role in the project but say little about the rest of the team. It is also disconcerting that the UnitedBitcoin codebase includes a function called “godMode” that, apparently, gives the developers the ability to seize coins at the time of the fork and grant them to the UnitedBitcoin foundation.
The developers state that they will only take “inactive coins,” but — given that most bitcoin holders treat their coins as a store of value — it is likely that the vast majority of coins will be deemed inactive.
There is still much to be learned about UnitedBitcoin, as well as Garzik’s actual involvement with the project, so bitcoin holders should probably proceed with extreme caution if they intend to interact with the fork and claim their UBTC.
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