Bitcoin’s long-simmering scaling debate flared this week at Anarchopulco, an annual libertarian-leaning bitcoin event held in Acapulco, Mexico.
Among the highlights was an unscripted, onstage confrontation between investor Roger Ver and researcher-pundit Tone Vays that came to a head in a bet relating to the future of Segregated Witness – a bitcoin upgrade put forward by the Bitcoin Core developer community late last year. The change has since faced heavy resistance from critics, including Ver and former bitcoin lead maintainer Gavin Andresen.
Ver’s comments came during a roundtable consisting of Vays, the founder of Sweden’s Pirate Party Rick Falkvinge, former Bitcoin Foundation executive director Bruce Fenton and entrepreneur Joby Weeks. Ver, while notably absent when the onstage conversation began, later grabbed a microphone to address the audience.
Ver told the crowd:
“I’m willing to bet any amount that SegWit will not activate. Would you like to take me up on that? $1,000…$10,000, a gentleman’s bet that SegWit will not activate. I’m not saying the technology is wrong, just that it won’t activate.”
Elsewhere in the conversation, Vays took aim at Bitcoin Unlimited, an alternative bitcoin implementation that seeks to increase the size of the network’s transaction blocks, and that is favored by Ver.
“I have said this, if Bitcoin Unlimited becomes the dominant fork of bitcoin then I will remove myself from the public eye,” said Vays. “I may not sell my bitcoin, but will remove myself as a public speaker.”
Later, Fenton, a board member at the Bitcoin Foundation, contended that 95% node consensus – the threshold required for network adoption of SegWit – will be extremely difficult, if not impossible.
“If I promised to give everyone in this conference hall one free bitcoin if they meet me outside after this panel,” he said. “I’m certain that less than 95% of you would show up. Ninety-five percent in anything, even among like-minded people, is very difficult.”
The statements come amid continued in-fighting in the bitcoin community over how best to increase the network’s capacity, a debate that now dates as far back as 2015.