Bitcoin has split, and there are now two versions of the popular cryptocurrency

Bitcoin Cash’s very first block
Bitcoin Cash’s very first block
Image: BlockDozer.com
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Bitcoin has just undergone a contentious “hard fork” that cleaved it into two separate entities for the first time in the cryptocurrency’s nearly nine-year history. In addition to the first version of bitcoin, there is now a new cryptocurrency called “bitcoin cash” that offers an eight-fold increase in transaction capacity.

For the last several years, the bitcoin infrastructure has been struggling to handle a growing number of transactions, and technical experts have said a new implementation of the currency will solve its back-logging issues.

That is what bitcoin cash promises. Like the original bitcoin, it uses the currency’s principal innovation: the blockchain, an immutable ledger of all the transactions ever performed with the cryptocurrency. Now that there are two versions of the ledger, however, there could be some practical problems, like vanishing coins, and philosophical ones, like a communal agreement on which blockchain represents the one, true, bitcoin.

The first bitcoin cash block on its own blockchain was successfully created at exactly 2:12 p.m. ET, and the new currency is already trading at $210 USD per coin.