It’s not the total supply, which is the same as Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. It’s not the self-funding mechanism, or the GNC, or the fact that it’s about to use both Proof of Work and Proof of Stake. Other coins do these things as well. Nor is it the easy to use eToken technology, or the small but passionate global community, or even the eCash name itself, which people have pointed out for being the most functional name in all of crypto. It isn’t the many features of the Cashtab wallet, or the convenient bits denomination, or the fact that eCash is a continuation of the original Bitcoin project going all the way back to the genesis block.
When eCash combines Avalanche and Nakamoto consensus it will indeed be a first, but since that hasn’t happened yet, that’s not the answer I’m looking for either.
The answer I was looking for actually has nothing to do with any of the technology underlying eCash, but its economics.
As I said, there are other projects that also have self-funding mechanisms. For example, since its inception, Zcash has paid a portion of its block reward to the Electric Coin Company to fund development:
But the difference is that Zcash started with a self-funding mechanism “at inception”, while I would say the self-funding mechanism for eCash came about as a result of market forces. In other words, the new coinbase rule emerged only after a long and iterative process, not because it was already decided upon in the original design.
As far as I know there is no other situation like this in all of crypto. No other developer team has achieved what Bitcoin ABC was able to accomplish. Imagine if Bitcoin Core announced they were forking BTC to create a new chain where 8% of the block reward went to pay for their services? Even if the core developers tried doing this, I’m guessing the new chain would never survive because the Bitcoin community would never let it happen.
The same goes for any of the multiple client teams in the Bitcoin Cash or Ethereum ecosystems. What if the Geth or Parity team said they would create an Eth3 chain with a new consensus rule requiring a portion of the block reward go towards paying for their engineers? What if BCHN or Bitcoin Unlimited tried the same thing? I’m guessing none of those networks would even have a chance.
What Bitcoin ABC did in November 2020 was not only historic because it was a first, but because it was monumental. They could have started eCash from scratch, with its own genesis block and a different hashing algorithm. But that’s not what they did. Instead they gave Bitcoin Cash holders a choice. They said you can continue relying on the services of people only willing to work for donations, or you can choose their new fork that believes in paying highly skilled developers what they deserve.
The point I’m trying to make is that it’s not just the fact that eCash has a self-funding mechanism, but how the self-funding mechanism came to be.
One of my favorite interviews about crypto is a nine-minute portion of Lex Fridman interviewing George Hotz, aka geohot, a well-known hacker and the founder of comma.ai:
I recommend watching the entire segment from 39:31 – 48:52, but the part I want to focus on is what George says regarding forks:
“The crypto world has one very powerful idea going for it, and that’s the idea of forks. […] We’ll use a less controversial example. This was actually in my joke app in 2012. I was like Barack Obama, Mitt romney, let’s let them both be president, right? Like imagine we could fork America and just let them both be president and then the Americas could compete. And you know people could invest in one, pull their liquidity out of one, put it in the other. You have this in the crypto world. Ethereum forks into Ethereum and Ethereum Classic, and you can pull your liquidity out of one and put it in another, and people vote with their dollars.”
The most important word in the quote above is compete. For me, the beauty of crypto is that by being open source, it allows for the free competition of ideas. As George said, when a cryptocurrency project forks and results in a chain split, it allows holders to “pull their liquidity out of one, put it in the other”. It gives users a choice, a chance to vote with your money, which is exactly what the free market is about.
Prior to the creation of eCash, cryptocurrency forks were mainly about technical differences like block size or hashing algorithms. In the case of ETH and ETC, it was due to an ideological difference regarding the way to handle the DAO hack of 2016. But never before has a cryptocurrency forked to create a new chain separate and apart from the old one so that the forking team is able to charge for their services.
Let’s picture a world made up of many lands. Each land is inhabited by a society made up of builders, miners, and users (aka investors). The miners mine the natural resources of each land and earn a reward in exchange for their work, while the builders have always been expected to work for free, or for donations. What if this is how it was in every land from the beginning of time, until one day, a team of builders decides to break free from the status quo and state they are no longer willing to work for the pitiful donations of their community. They know they are the best at what they do, and have proven their work over a long enough period of time. Shouldn’t they be allowed to charge what they want in exchange for their work? Shouldn’t miners be given the choice to pay that team if they believe it is in their best interest? And shouldn’t investors be able to invest in those they see as having the best vision and skillset? For me, the answer is yes to all three questions.
Bitcoin ABC are trailblazers in this industry because of what they did on November 15, 2020. For the first time in the history of crypto, a team of builders rose up and told their community it was time they be paid for their work. Those who agreed were given the opportunity to support and follow them, or stick to the old way like they would in any truly free economy.
To me, this is what makes eCash truly one of a kind in crypto right now, and distinguishes the eCash project as one that empowers its builders to act in their own self-interest rather than having to only work for the collective.