Bitcoin Versions Compared

Bitcoin is the first, largest and most valuable cryptocurrency globally – but not many investors know multiple versions of Bitcoin digital currencies are out there.

Several variants branch from the Bitcoin family tree, sharing similarities but with some key differences.

The underlying software allows developers to fork from the main code by upgrading the network. Soft forks constitute a slight upgrade, whereas a hard fork involves major changes.

A hard fork typically leads to a new Bitcoin variant, breaking away from the old chain and often with incompatibilities with older versions.

Forks can arise from disagreements about scalability, block sizes or speed, for example, where the Bitcoin community or a developer decides to add new features.

There have been around 100 Bitcoin forks thus far, of which 74 versions are functional, successful Bitcoin versions.

Bitcoin – BTC

BTC is the original cryptocurrency created by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009. The code was updated in 2017 to incorporate SegWit (segregated witness) technology to reduce the volume of data verification in each block.

In early 2010, Bitcoin was valued at a fraction of one penny but is now worth £32,564 a coin.

There is a maximum supply of 21 million BTC, with just under 19 million already in circulation. It is the top crypto coin by market capitalisation – worth about two-thirds of the $1 trillion market.

Bitcoin Cash – BCH

This fork is active and authentic, designed to fix slow speeds and high transaction costs common throughout the over-burdened Bitcoin network.

BCH was built by miners and developers looking for ways to improve the scalable nature of Bitcoin. However, they disagreed with the integration of SegWit and didn’t believe the solution was consistent with Nakamoto’s original road map.

Bitcoin Cash has a separate blockchain, with block sizes up to eight megabytes to speed up verifications, and is therefore considerably faster than BTC.

Each BTC unit is worth around £250, with a matching 21 million supply cap.

Holders can use BCH as a transaction currency to make payments, purchase goods from participating merchants, or use BCH for micro-transactions such as paying tips to online content creators.

Bitcoin BEP2 – BTCB

BEP2 is traded on the Binance exchange as a pegged token backed by the BTC native currency.

The abbreviation stands for Binance Chain Evolution Proposal 2 and represents a technical method of creating or trading tokens on the platform launched in April 2019.

Today, a BEP2 coin is worth £32,536, with each unit backed by the BTC reserve at a ratio of 1:1.

Bitcoin SV – Satoshi Vision – BSV

Bitcoin Satoshi Vision, or SV, was created through a hard fork from Bitcoin Cash to continue the original protocol but with technological advancements.

BSV, at launch, offered a reported block size of 128 times larger than BTC, although trading pairs were suspended in 2019 due to standards issues.

Part of the controversy around BSV is that a developer called Craig Wright claims he is the secretive Satoshi Nakamoto – but has never provided evidence to dispel doubts about whether this is true.

Bitcoin Gold – BTG

Bitcoin Gold, or BTG, was founded in 2017 as a user-friendly Bitcoin alternative, incorporating the security of the Bitcoin blockchain but with additional resources.

The hard fork is an open-source protocol that developers can participate in for free and was one of the initial forks away from the original cryptocurrency.

Although BTG was met with a little suspicion, it is now one of the highest valued Bitcoin assets. This makes mining easier for individuals, now accepted by several online service providers and browsers as a payment currency.

Wrapped Bitcoin – WBTC

Wrapped Bitcoin runs on the Ethereum blockchain and is a recent innovation in DeFi applications.

When Bitcoin is wrapped, it is held in reserve, which means you can explore alternative blockchains.

A large proportion of the DeFi landscape and dApps are based on Ethereum networks rather than Bitcoin blockchain, making it difficult for BTC owners to trade unless they sell or buy different, compatible crypto assets.

WBTC connects Ethereum and Bitcoin to offer greater liquidity, backed by Bitcoin similarly to a stablecoin.

Bitcoin Atom – BCA

Atom is a fork created in 2018 based on atomic swaps, which mean traders can exchange different cryptocurrencies without needing a centralised exchange to support the transaction – thereby reducing costs.

BCA is a BTC fork with SegWit enabled, offering time-locked exchange contracts and peer-to-peer exchanges.

Bitcoin Diamond – BCD

BCD is a Bitcoin fork with additional features such as a lightning network to speed up transaction times, increased storage capacity and optimal block-out rates for each block.

Bitcoin Diamond follows SegWit and aims to remove obstacles to new traders, such as high investment thresholds and slow transaction confirmations.

Miners can either mine BCD with a pool or use a full node client, and the currency is issued as a dividend for BTC holders, owning Bitcoin when the fork was first created in 2017.

Bitcoin Green – BITG

In an environmentally conscious world, Bitcoin uses a vast amount of electricity for mining. Bitcoin Green endeavours to combat carbon usage in the process.

Most BITG assets are held in WBTC, with a proportion spent on MCO2 Moss Tokens, representing reductions in harmful emissions. Moss is a global environmental platform issuing carbon credits coded into blockchain.

Along with buying offset tokens, BITG uses a different algorithm that is more energy-efficient.

One Bitcoin has a carbon footprint of around 370 kg of CO2, costing around £13.62 per transaction based on the metric tonne gas prices.

Environmental researchers estimate that Bitcoin mining solely in China could emit 120 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere in the next two years. BITG is one of several initiatives to mitigate the impact or switch mining to renewable energy sources.

Bitcoin Standard Hashrate Token – BTCST

The Binance Smart Chain launched BTCST in December 2020, a token that represents 0.1 tera hashes per second – this measure quantifies mining power.

Miners can contribute their computing power in return for BTCST tokens to make Bitcoin mining more liquid.

Users can gain rewards for mining at any size of hash power to make the power market underpinning cryptocurrency more efficient.

Bitcoin Versions Compared FAQ

What is a blockchain fork?

Bitcoin forks occur when a developer or community changes the rules or protocols contained within a blockchain.

The split, or fork, separates the new Bitcoin variant with a second blockchain that shares the original history but sets off on a new trajectory, often with different rules, functions or capacities.

Hard forks in blockchain technology mean a significant change, whereby transactions or blocks that were previously invalid are now allowed, or vice versa.

To instigate a hard fork, all users or nodes need to upgrade to the newer version of the software.

Soft forks are less dramatic and involve a software protocol update that is backwards compatible, and old nodes will still recognise new blocks as being valid.

What is the difference between wrapped and unwrapped Bitcoin?

A wrapped cryptocurrency is used on a blockchain when it isn’t the native currency. Interoperability allows Bitcoin owners to transact on Ethereum, for example, utilising smart contracts even with a different currency.

The benefit of wrapped Bitcoin is greater liquidity and access to DeFi apps and opportunities such as using blockchain functions unavailable on the Bitcoin chain.

Are all Bitcoin forks legitimate?

Bitcoin is a well-known and respected cryptocurrency, and the power of the brand has meant that some developers create forks that aren’t designed to generate authentic profits.

Bitcoin Platinum is a great example – it was designed by a teenager in South Korea trying to make a quick profit.

Even genuine forks can be high risk, with developers receiving large amounts against a newly developed coin which they can offload on the market once trading begins, so research is essential to choose your Bitcoin variant wisely.

How many Bitcoin forks can there be?

Theoretically, there could be unlimited Bitcoin forks. Then, any developer with the skills and knowledge could clone the Bitcoin code and create a new blockchain.

The complication is that creating a functional currency or valuable product is very complex. Still, low-value coins produced from new forks can quickly inflate when investors are unfamiliar with the product.

New Bitcoin variants are emerging all the time, so there is no telling how many versions we might see on the cryptocurrency exchanges in the years to come.

How many versions of Bitcoin can I buy?

A quick search on CoinMarketCap will display no less than 100 different Bitcoin versions. However, the functions and valuations of each cryptocurrency will vary and aren’t always directly linked with the original Bitcoin.

It is also important to recognise that a new currency using the word Bitcoin may not be associated with BTC.

Below is a list of related articles you may find of interest.

Leave a Comment