Enlarge (credit: BTC Keychain)
The price of Bitcoin surged late last week as it became clear that a proposal to expand the Bitcoin network’s capacity had the support it needed to go into effect.
Supporters of the proposal hope that it will put an end to a two-year-old feud that has been tearing the Bitcoin community apart.
The core dispute is over how to accommodate the payment network’s growing popularity. A hard-coded limit in Bitcoin software—1 megabyte per blockchain block—prevents the network from processing more than about seven transactions per second.

The network started to bump up against this limit last year, resulting in slow transactions and soaring transaction fees.
Some prominent figures in the Bitcoin community saw an easy fix: just increase that 1MB limit.

But Bitcoin traditionalists argued that the limit was actually a feature, not a bug. Keeping blocks small ensures that anyone can afford the computing power required to participate in Bitcoin’s consensus-based process for authenticating Bitcoin transactions, preventing a few big companies from gaining de facto control over the network.
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