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Bitcoin Battered Below $2000, Ether Tumbles As August 1st Scaling Deadline Looms

It's another ugly day in cryptocurrency land. As anxiety over the looming 'civil war' deadline of August 1st grows, so it appears the entire virtual currency space is being derisked, with Bitcoin down over 10% today (below $2000) and Ether down 6% (at around $175).

As Bloomberg reports, it’s time for bitcoin traders to batten down the hatches.

The notoriously volatile cryptocurrency, whose 160 percent surge this year has captivated everyone from Wall Street bankers to Chinese grandmothers, could be headed for one of its most turbulent stretches yet.

 

Blame the bitcoin civil war. After two years of largely behind-the-scenes bickering, rival factions of computer whizzes who play key roles in bitcoin’s upkeep are poised to adopt two competing software updates at the end of the month. That has raised the possibility that bitcoin will split in two, an unprecedented event that would send shockwaves through the $41 billion market.

 

While both sides have big incentives to reach a consensus, bitcoin’s lack of a central authority has made compromise difficult. Even professional traders who’ve followed the dispute’s twists and turns aren’t sure how it will all pan out. Their advice: brace for volatility and be ready to act fast once a clear outcome emerges.

 

“It’s a high-stakes game of chicken,” said Arthur Hayes, a former market maker at Citigroup Inc. who now runs BitMEX, a bitcoin derivatives venue in Hong Kong. “If you’re a trader, there’s a lot of uncertainty as to what happens. Once there’s a definitive signal about what will be done, the price could move very quickly.”

Once again it is the so-called 'civil war' that is weighing on the entire virtual currency space as we noted previously, behind the conflict is an ideological split about bitcoin's rightful identity...

Bitcoin is back below $2000 - two month lows...

As CoinTelegraph reports, the knock-on effects for altcoins in the top 10 were as palpable as ever, with Ethereum, Litecoin and others following Bitcoin downhill.

Ethereum has fared particularly badly over the past week, with monthly losses to its market cap now nearly $18 bln.

As always, internal reactions with cryptocurrency were mixed, some despairing while others are eyeing a keen buying opportunity.

$5.5million of new

short positions have opened up within the last 12hrs on Bitfinex

— Alistair Milne (@alistairmilne)

While a general consensus points to the upcoming hard fork probability as the principal motivation for market uncertainty, mainstream media have been quick to sound the alarm about Bitcoin once again.

 

“Rival factions of computer whizzes who play key roles in Bitcoin’s upkeep are poised to adopt two competing software updates at the end of the month,” Bloomberg reported Friday, announcing Bitcoin could be “nearing a total meltdown.”

 

“That has raised the possibility that Bitcoin will split in two, an unprecedented event that would send shockwaves through the $41 bln market.”

As areminder, below is an outline of the main events that could unify or divide bitcoin:

By July 21: SegWit2x software is released and supporters begin using it.

July 21 to July 31: The community monitors how many miners deploy SegWit2x:

If more than 80 percent deploy it consistently, that should signal community-wide adoption of SegWit and the avoidance of a split, at least for now.

 

But if a majority do not deploy, expect anxiety within the community to grow as the focus shifts to the Aug. 1 deadline.

Aug. 1: UASF is deployed by its supporters, who begin checking if bitcoin transactions are compliant with SegWit.

If a majority of miners still do not deploy SegWit2x or otherwise accept SegWit, and if UASF supporters do not back down, then two versions of bitcoin’s blockchain could come into existence: a UASF-backed one where only SegWit transactions are recognized, and another where all trades -- SegWit and non-SegWit -- are recognized.

 

If a split occurs, bitcoin will likely begin existing on both blockchains in parallel, resulting in two versions of the cryptocurrency. Expect traders to quickly re-price the value of both, likely leading to massive volatility.

“It’s moderates versus extremists,” said Atlanta-based Stephen Pair, chief executive officer of BitPay, one of the world’s largest bitcoin wallets. “It depends on how much a person values the majority of people staying on one chain at least for a little while longer, versus splitting and allowing each pursuing their own vision for scaling.”

As a reminder, investing legend Michgael Novogratz recently noted, that he’s looking to add more ether if it falls between $200 and $150... and more bitcoin if it falls to $2,000.