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Bitcoin Price Goes Bananas as Currency Avoids Split

The price of a bitcoin went on a tear on Wednesday in response to news that proponents of a controversial “hard fork” had suspended their plans to create a parallel version of the digital currency.

As of 1:30 p.m. ET, bitcoin was trading near $7,700, which is up nearly 10 percent in the past 24 hours—a big jump even for the notoriously volatile currency.

News that the anticipated bitcoin split had been called came via an email from the leaders of the fork project, which is known as SegWit2X.

The SegWit2X leaders, who include prominent bitcoin figures like Xapo CEO Wences Casares and Chinese mining pool leader Jihan Wu, said they decided to suspend the project due to a lack of consensus in the bitcoin community.

The decision appeared to acknowledge a bitter controversy that boiled over in recent months, and led many longtime bitcoin developers to blast the SegWit2X plan as corporate takeover.

If the controversy had not been resolved, the world’s most famous cryptocurrency faced the very real possibility of splitting in two—with no clear consensus on which version was the “real” bitcoin. (You can read all the details about the proposed fork here).

In their email, the SegWit2X advocates said they still believed bitcoin needed to redesign its software to accommodate larger transaction blocks. (The controversy turned on whether bitcoin blocks should increase from 1MB to 2MB.)

But they feared the fight over the fork had become disruptive:

Although we strongly believe in the need for a larger blocksize, there is something we believe is even more important: keeping the community together. Unfortunately, it is clear that we have not built sufficient consensus for a clean blocksize upgrade at this time. Continuing on the current path could divide the community and be a setback to Bitcoin’s growth. This was never the goal of Segwit2x.

The news was hailed on Twitter by SegWit2X opponents like Charlie Lee, who noted that he would remove the “NO2X” symbol from his biography to mark their opposition.

Other tweets noted that the futures market for BT2—the new cryptocurrency that would have been created had the fork gone ahead—has cratered.

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