SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Got some bitcoin?
Any split between miners and others who use bitcoin, including a number of startups and a few big companies, could cause a panic in the $39 billion bitcoin marketplace.
Bitcoin is notoriously volatile; because the price spiked so rapidly, it also fell quickly, and bitcoin has lost about a quarter of its value since its peak in June at above $3,000 .
The bitcoin network is limited in how quickly it can shuffle around digital money. As bitcoin has grown, payment delays have become more common and worrisome.
At 8 p.m. Eastern time on July 31, they’re threatening to stop recognizing transactions confirmed by miners who haven’t adopted the upgrade. That would create enormous uncertainty in the bitcoin economy, as no one could really know if the bitcoin they’d just paid (or received) was actually moving through the system the way it’s supposed to.
Some big bitcoin miners — like Chinese bitcoin mining equipment giant Bitmain — haven’t signaled support for the new system.