The much anticipated Monero hard fork finally occurred on Friday, April 5, 2018. The Monero blockchain is now on version 12 of its protocol. However, it seems that not all members of the community were in agreement with some of the terms of the hard fork. As a result, 4 new projects emerged in the aftermath of the fork. Before examining these new projects, here is a little bit of information regarding the hard fork.
Hard forks have become a ubiquitous part of the Monero blockchain process. Monero has been committed to carrying out a hard fork once every 6 months for a variety of reasons. This particular hard fork was targeted at a number of protocol implementations which include multi-sig functionality, wallet support for Ledger Nano S hardware wallets, bigger ring-size for private transactions, and an upgrade to the blockchain’s proof-of-work (POW) algorithm. This last upgrade appears to be a major cause of the schism in the network.
Monero has consistently maintained that it was not willing to allow support for ASIC miners. The risk of centralization and monopolization of the blockchain’s hashing power posed by ASIC miners was agreed upon by the development team as being too great. A major part of the hard fork was upgrading the CryptoNight POW algorithm being used on the Monero blockchain to make ASIC obsolete.
It appears that a number of network participants were not in agreement with the decision and so decided to continue the pre-hard fork Monero blockchain protocol. A total of 4 new projects have emerged and they are as follows
Of the 4 new projects, Monero Original (XMO) is the one with the least amount of information. The project has a GitHub page as well as a couple of published statements but these do not throw more light on the nature of the project. There is, however, a statement from someone purportedly claiming to be the lead developer of the project. The statement talks about Monero being about freedom and diversity and that the project is going to stay true to the original philosophies of the Monero blockchain.
According to a tweet by HitBTC, a cryptocurrency exchange platform, it plans to offer XMO balances to all XMR holders. No word was however given by the exchange platform as to whether it would list XMO on its platform for trading.
The first of two “Monero Classics”, this one with a hyphen, (XMC), is led by an individual known only as “PZ.” Apparently, PZ believes that the emergence of ASIC miners is a good thing for the market. The project is actively being promoted by AntPool, a mining pool owned by Bitmain, the largest manufacturers of ASIC crypto mining rigs in the world. Some have speculated that Bitmain has vested interests in the project, a claim that has been refuted by Bitmain.
Proponents of the Monero 0 (XMZ) project feel disenfranchised by the constant hard fork of the Monero blockchain. They have been identified as POW maximalists and refer to their project as not being a fork but the legitimate Monero blockchain. The group believes that POW is the best consensus mechanism for a decentralized network and have accused Bitmain of trying to destroy Monero.
The other Monero Classic, this one without a hyphen is led by a group of enthusiasts based in Singapore. Bento Tan, a spokesperson for the group issued a statement saying that the coming of ASICs is beneficial to the market as it brings competition and growth. The group also claims that the constant hard forks to prevent ASIC implementation is more dangerous than ASICs themselves in the long run.
With the hard fork Monero blockchain and 4 new pre-hard blockchains running simultaneously, it does create the possibility for privacy issues. Monero being a privacy-focused blockchain could see some of that privacy being eroded when users try to move coins between the hard fork blockchain and any of the other new project blockchains. In the coming months and weeks, it might become apparent which projects will survive and which ones will crash.