A MAJOR PROPONENT of the bitcoin cryptocurrency has labelled it a "failed project" and withdrawn his support.
Zurich-based developer and ex-Googler Mike Hearn published a blog post this weekend in which he announced that he had sold all his bitcoins and retired from developing for the virtual currency.
The currency has increased hugely in popularity since its inception, but this has created a whole host of problems, ranging from its rapid (and, let's face it, predictable) adoption as the currency of criminals, to its increasing complexity on the technical side which is making transactions slow down or fail entirely. Some even predict that the infrastructure will actually grind to a complete halt one day.
"Despite knowing that bitcoin could fail all along, the now inescapable conclusion that it has failed still saddens me greatly. The fundamentals are broken and whatever happens to the price in the short term, the long-term trend should probably be downwards," Hearn said.
He goes on to describe it as being "controlled by just a handful of people" and "on the brink of technical collapse" and that "the mechanisms that should have prevented this outcome have broken down".
Hearn pointed out that the currency, which is largely controlled in China, recently added the option for people to reverse payments after completion, making it possible to get thoroughly fleeced by a buyer very easily.
Hearn had been working on a new version of bitcoin, bitcoin XT, which was meant to overcome the problems of capacity caused by a 1MB block limit which was put in place temporarily and never removed. It's somewhat akin to running a business from a series of Portakabins and never getting round to building your skyscraper.
Additionally, the Great Firewall in place in China is causing even more congestion in managing transactions.
Bitcoin was officially recognised in the European Court as a currency in October, but not everyone was impressed, even then.
Hearn believes that the only solution is to start again from scratch, but of course it's already too late for that. So, with self-confessed sadness, he has decided to turn his back on the "experiment".
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