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In a recent announcement that came as a surprise to many, OKCoin, one of the leading global crypto exchanges, delisted Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Bitcoin SV (BSV) to protect its new clients. A lot of crypto enthusiasts were taken aback by this decision. More so, since it came at a time when the market capitalization of Bitcoin had crossed the magical mark of 1 trillion US dollars for the first time with a total circulation of 18.6 million BTC tokens.
The decision to delist BCH and BSV first appeared as an official tweet from the exchange’s CEO, Hong Fang. In her tweet, Fang mentioned that OKcoin would stop trading BCH, a fork or “clone” of Bitcoin, and its fork Bitcoin SV (BSV), from March 1, 2021. The tweet cited this move as OKCoin’s commitment to protecting Bitcoin. It also included an at-length official statement issued by the exchange.
BSV and BCH were two crypto assets among several others that OKCoin decided to remove from its trading list after conducting a thorough asset review. These periodic reviews that OKCoin performs consider multiple factors before deciding whether a particular asset is qualified to remain on its exchange.
These factors include its ecosystem development efforts, its ethos, network stability, the quality and commitment of its developer community, liquidity, and any other reputational red flags. However, the delisting of BCH and BSV included something more than a flat ranking on these parameters. It was a call driven by principles and not so much by performance.
OKCoin has not only been an exchange that took inspiration from the founding principles of Bitcoin. It also played a constructive and contributory role in developing the Bitcoin ecosystem. In 2019, it introduced a host of open-source developer grants totaling $500,000. It was also the first regulated exchange in the US to have listed the STX coin that, in turn, made “stacking” with BTC rewards possible.
Even as recently as January 2021, the exchange announced that it would integrate the Bitcoin Lightning Network on OKCoin. It decided to enable smaller BTC transactions at significantly lower fees. After being such a committed enabler of the Bitcoin economy, the decision of OKCoin to not allow trades on BCH and BSV shocked the crypto community.
Two reasons drove OKCoin to make the 'hard choice' of doing away with these two assets. The first reason stemmed from the harsh actions taken by Craig Wright, whom the founder of OKCoin Hong Fang described as ‘the infamous self-proclaimed creator of Bitcoin and BSV supporter.’ Craig Wright was not only enforcing copyright claims on the Bitcoin white paper, but he also threatened legal actions against the entire open-source community on hosting the white paper. OKCoin saw it as a direct threat to the ethos of the 'community-driven consensus building’ efforts that work as one of Bitcoin's most valued guiding principles. It believed that allowing BCH and BSV to trade regardless of what Craig Wright had been doing would only make OKCoin appear complicit in his malicious misinformation campaign.
Apart from taking a stand against Wright’s efforts to appropriate Bitcoin’s legacy and topple the very foundation Bitcoin was built on, OKCoin also decided to safeguard the interests of its neophyte users. The year 2020 saw a whole new set of investors hopping on the crypto bandwagon. Moreover, most of these newly initiated investors entered the crypto economy inspired by the bull run of Bitcoin.
In such a situation, having more than one Bitcoin-like instrument created a branding ambiguity. This ambiguity appeared all the more severe because the gaps between the market capitalization numbers of BTC, BCH, and BSV were mammoth. While Bitcoin registered a market capitalization of 1 trillion US dollars, BCH and BSV had their numbers hovering around 10 billion US dollars and 3.5 billion US dollars.
It would be wrong to assume that OKCoin was the only exchange to delist BCH and BSV. Although it appears that OKCoin has so far been the most articulate in explaining their delisting motives, other reputed exchanges had taken the same decision on these two assets earlier.
Binance, for instance, decided to delist and cease trading on all trading pairs for Bitcoin SV on 22nd April 2019. Although it did not explicitly state which of the factors were key, the exchange cited a host of factors that might have played a role in its decision. Some of these factors included the team's commitment to the project, its contribution to a sustainable and healthy crypto ecosystem, evidence of unethical/fraudulent conduct, the levels of public communication, etc.
A few days back before Binance announced about delisting Bitcoin SV, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) was reported to have warned about delisting Bitcoin SV if Craig Wright did not stop claiming that he was the real Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous founder of Bitcoin.
Around the same time, in June 2019, the Japanese financial services stalwart SBI Holdings also decided to delist BCH from its exchange. Yoshitaka Kitao, president of SBI Holdings, made a public statement saying that allowing a hard fork like Bitcoin Cash will result in separating the investors.
Overall, it appears that the conduct of Craig Wright - his going berserk about him being the creator of Bitcoin - has not been received well by the crypto community. The history of Wright’s problematic legal actions to prove his authority over Bitcoin appears as a severe threat to the building principles of the currency. The branding ambiguity only amplifies the crisis. If things are not resolved between White and the open-source crypto community soon, one could expect more and more exchanges delisting BCH and BSV in the days to come.
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