1 August, 2017. If you are an avid Bitcoin user, you understand how important this date is for Bitcoin. It is when Bitcoin developers, along with miners and users will be conducting the first-ever soft fork on the currency through BIP 148 – User Activated Soft Fork (UASF).
The soft fork is more popularly referred to as the ‘Segregated Witness’, whereby a new rule is implemented onto the Blockchain – in this case, increasing block size limits on the Blockchain to improve the speed of confirming Bitcoin transactions.
If you use Bitcoin regularly, or have Bitcoin either in your wallets or on exchanges, it must be noted there are things you need to do before this soft fork occurs on 1 August. First of all, it is important that you don’t panic as you observe the potential cyber-battle between the communities who support and do not support this soft fork. This may potentially affect the value of Bitcoin but we can never know for sure, we can only speculate. The value may rise due to improved security, faster transactions, etc., or it may drop.
The potential cyber-battle between these two communities is bound to occur on various social media, forums, and news agencies. It is important that you stay calm amidst the arguments, doubts, and the potential drop in Bitcoin’s value. Selling your bitcoins in panic would not help anyone. If you think you would start to panic, just be sure not to hold more than you are willing to lose while all this is happening.
However, this is not the real issue you should be concerned about. The real issue is the fact that some wallet services might face problems during and after the soft fork. This is in regards to some miners not signalling support for the Segregated Witness, ultimately resulting in the separation of the blockchain into two different networks, bringing two very similar yet different cryptocurrencies much like Ethereum and Ethereum Classic.
Although, if majority of miners signal their support for Segregated Witness on or before 1 August, the update will be activated flawlessly and you wouldn’t have to prepare for anything at all. However, it is always good to be fully prepared for something that you are not completely sure about.
Don’t Lose Your Bitcoins!
So far, no wallet services have given any kind of guarantee of what is going to happen after the soft fork so be sure to stay updated and move your coins to your own wallet where you have full control of your private keys. It is important that you have full control over your own private keys; otherwise, there is a risk of you losing your hard-earned bitcoins.
This can be done through using hardware wallets, paper wallets, and/or regular desktop or mobile wallets. Here’s a list of some wallets which give you a full control over private keys. If the chain ever splits and we end up getting two very similar yet different types of Bitcoin – the new and the old – be sure not to purchase, sell, or trade, any old or new bitcoins until the situation has been settled. Keep up-to-date with Bitcoin news to ensure that it is safe for you to transfer your bitcoins.
To sum it up, be sure not to panic and stay calm during and after 1 August, even in the event of the value of Bitcoin decreasing– this is completely normal and the market will stabilise eventually – as we have seen with Ethereum and its hard fork. Most importantly, remember to be in full control of your private keys before the 1 August by moving your bitcoins to your private wallets.