Bitcoin (BTC) continues to be highly volatile. Having ranged over 30% in the past week, the cryptocurrency was, at one point, down 56% from all time highs.

The BTC market cap now stands at US$190 Billion, with just over US$5 Billion traded in the past 24 hours. Hash rate and difficulty have increased at a steady pace, almost unabated over the past 12 months, growing more than 6x. The two significant declines of hash rate in August and November 2017 occurred when Bitcoin Cash (BCH) first forked from BTC, and miners began subsequently switching blockchains to profit from the BCH Emergency Difficulty Adjustment (EDA).

While the EDA was included in BCH to soften the abrupt drop in hash rate that the blockchain inevitably experienced after the fork, at least one Bitcoin Cash/Unlimited developer, Peter Rizun, has said that the EDA was designed specifically to disrupt the BTC network. The BTC hash rate has doubled since the BCH EDA was removed in November.

Both of the BTC hash rate declines caused significant increases in block time, to more than 16 minutes, and fees increased proportionally. This is to be expected as block times increase; more transactions remain unconfirmed (if transactions per day remain static or increase), and prioritizing transactions so that they’re included in the next block becomes more expensive.

Over time, the hash rate returned or the BTC difficulty automatically adjusted to the change. Despite block times holding at or below 10 minutes in December, USD fees increased to levels never seen before on the network. Read more from…

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