Username-based Bitcoin Cash wallet HandCash has chosen to remain exclusive to the Bitcoin SV chain, showing the importance of developing a solid user experience on the protocol level.
In a recent announcement, HandCash announced temporary downtime as it prepared to transition to solely follow the Bitcoin SV ruleset, one of the two chains produced by the recent Bitcoin Cash hash war:
“In the light of current events, and with the necessity of keep providing a good user experience to our users, we decided to follow the Bitcoin SV ruleset exclusively… This decision requires us to temporarily (less than a week) disable the use of the HandCash wallet while we make the transition to the new ruleset. It will only be possible to display your seed phrase and $handle meanwhile. We will issue updates during this week for our Android app.”
While the hash war is far from over, most major platforms and services, including major exchanges, have considered the Bitcoin ABC chain to be the legitimate Bitcoin Cash, resulting in a significant valuation disparity between the two. HandCash choosing SV puts users in a difficult position of choosing to use a streamlined and intuitive username-based transaction experience and adopting the major chain.
The chain split highlighted potential censorship issues as well
The divergence in businesses and services over the Bitcoin Cash chain split, beyond simply showing a social breakdown in the community, cast light on some censorship risks as well. Micropayment-driven blogging platform Yours censored and banned several users who expressed opposing viewpoints during the hash war, prompting the company to issue an apology and reinstate affected users and restore their deleted content.
While no evidence of similar risk is present in HandCash, the service does leverage patents owned by nChain. This element was a publicly-disclosed factor in the choice of chains to follow:
“Patents: as you may know nChain invested in HandCash months ago. Part of the deal was access to their patented technology, and we believe it would be a BIG mistake and a bad business decision to give that up. We are building and plan to build incredible tools and apps for our customers, and these patents give us a huge competitive advantage.”
These patents, while not affecting the protocol itself, do indicate that a key functionality which may prove to be quite popular is under the control of just a few entities. While this does not present a significant censorship risk in the sending and receiving of funds on the chain, it does grant significant leverage to the patent owners in determining the direction of the protocol.
Dash Evolution to provide user-friendly payments, DApps, without centralization risks
The long-awaited Dash Evolution update, the first stages of which are set for release soon, aims to provide at its outset a username-based wallet system reminiscent of that which is provided by HandCash, though in a decentralized and trustless way, storing usernames and contacts and making connections on the Dash network itself rather than a third-party service. This significantly reduces the risks of a system which remains decentralized on paper, yet whose most common avenues for use remain under the control of a single entity.
Additionally, the Evolution platform aims to serve as a platform for decentralized applications, or DApps, with Dash’s former chief architect Andy Freer now focusing on building DApps for the platform. Popular services, including micropayments-fueled blogs like Yours, may be able to be easily built without carrying the same risk of censorship.