This week in crypto: Ethereum completes Muir glacier hard fork, Bitcoin hash rate hits record and Bahamas central bank pilots digital currency
Ethereum Completes Muir Glacier Hard Fork
Ethereum has performed its hard fork, Muir Glacier, on 1st January 2020, because the Istanbul hard fork a few weeks back had failed to diffuse the “difficulty bomb”. Others in the community had been confused by the choice of date.
The problem the hard fork was looking forward to solve is the difficulty bomb that led to a mining drop of 20%, according to Bitcoinist. This made the discovery of the block tough, which discouraged many miners.
Moreover, the hard fork had not received the support of major exchanges, infrastructure providers and even mining pools. The only two crypto-exchanges that were marked to be ready for Muir Glacier, were Bittrex and Bitso.
In the meantime, the Ethereum network had completed the Muir Glacier hard fork and managed to delay the difficulty bomb for another 4,000,000 blocks.
As of press time, the majority of clients were running in sync, although according to ethernodes, the nethermind client was still having some issues, and had fallen over 150 blocks.
Before the hard fork, there was some concern as to how ready the network was for the upgrade. Aside from nethermind’s synching issues, it is estimated that around 80% of the total active nodes on the network are Muir Glacier-ready. As Cointelegraph reported, Binance had announced its support for the upgrade two days before.
Bitcoin Hash Rate Hits Record
Bitcoin (BTC) has already hit a new record in 2020. Data from multiple resources including Blockchain and Coin Dance confirmed hash rate was higher than ever on the first day of January.
The Bitcoin hash rate spent most of 2019 in a continuous growth cycle, with the exception of a brief period in Q3.
According to Blockchain, the metric hit 120 quintillion hashes per second (h/s) on January 1st.
Commentators have claimed that hash rate highs will lead to new Bitcoin price highs. Bitcoin has recently set other technical records, which Cointelegraph reported last week.
In short, the hash rate measures the speed of Bitcoin miners. A high hash rate makes the network more secure, and protects it from the threat of a 51-percent attack. It also shows that miners are investing to produce more Bitcoin, despite recent price declines.
Bahamas Central Bank Pilots Digital Currency
Residents of the Bahamas can now enroll in the Central Bank’s “Project Sand Dollar,” which began Dec. 27. They will receive mobile wallets the Bahamian government sees as the future of payments.
The Sand Dollar will begin in Exuma and will spread to the Abaco Islands in the northern Bahamas in the first half of 2020.
Bankers said “Sand Dollar” is not a cryptocurrency, stablecoin or competitor to the Bahamian dollar, but a “digital fiat currency”. It is simply a digital version “equivalent in every respect to the paper currency,”. It is also a step in the Bahamas’ goal of launching a fully-fledged central bank digital currency (CBDC).
“A widely adopted CBDC would place users at less risk of violent crimes that target holders of cash and potentially reduce security and insurance costs associated with keeping cash on business premises,” according to the outline.
The issuing of a digital currency is also necessary because there are parts of the population that don’t have access to banks. The governor of the CBOB, John Rolle, said that the Bahamas’ digital currency would free the country from dependence on cash, which would also be especially useful after a natural disaster.