The last time I wrote about Bitcoin on the blog here was back in 2013. Bitcoin had just hit $1000 per BTC and I was still bullish.
Since then, Bitcoin has “forked” a number of times. Similar to open source software, if stake holders disagree about how to build out the Bitcoin software and platform, they can fork the platform and let the market decide which fork to support. It’s not a winner take all proposition either. There is room for multiple variants of cryptocurrency. The Coinbase blog has a good post on what forks are.
Wikipedia has a list of the larger Bitcoin forks. The biggest fork was the Bitcoin Cash fork on August 1, 2017. Bitcoin Cash itself forked on November 15, 2018 into Bitcoin Cash ABC and Bitcoin SV (Satoshi’s Vision).
I could talk about forks and the various pros and cons of each flavor of Bitcion, but for this post I’m going to focus on the technicalities of gaining access to the “new” Bitcoin SV coins and how I “sold” them.
If you hold your own Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, this fork thing is going to happen every once in a while, and you’ll need to spend some time to claim your “free money”. These are the steps I used to sell my BSV specifically, but the general outline would be used for claiming any fork. Just different software or exchanges might be involved.
Step 1: Own the private key or seed phrase.
To really “own” your Bitcoin, you need to own the private key for the wallet the Bitcoins are stored in. The actual private key is a 256-bit number. The more typical version you will interact with is the “seed phrase” that your wallet and private key were generated from. This will be 12 to 24 words that almost all wallet software will generate for you when setting up a new wallet.
If you store your coins in Coinbase or something similar, you may not “own” your private keys. This is actually not a terrible idea if you don’t trust yourself to keep your key safe and not forget it. In this case, Coinbase will wait until a new fork gets valuable or important enough to worry about and then split your coins for you and issue you an appropriate amount of coins on the new fork’s chain. They did this with Bitcoin Cash and later with Bitcoin SV. If you want to claim your forked coins earlier though, you’ll need to do it yourself.
My seed phrase then is basically the password needed to spend or move my Bitcoin. After a fork, the same exact seed phrase will work to spend coins on either blockchain.
So I could use my Bitcoin Cash seed phrase to “claim” my coins in Bitcoin SV and move those coins wherever I want. The problem with this is that I don’t necessarily trust the people behind Bitcoin SV or the wallet I would use. I am worried that using the “password” for my Bitcoin Cash wallet to spend my Bitcoin SV will allow someone else to steal my more valuable Bitcoin Cash coins.
So I tried to protect my Bitcoin Cash first.
Step 2: Create a new wallet for your old Bitcoin cash and send your coins there.
I used Electron Cash to create a new wallet. I then sent a test transaction from my old wallet to my new wallet, followed by a transaction to send all of my Bitcoin Cash into the new wallet.
I now have a different set of seed phrase words to access my Bitcoin Cash.
Step 3: Claim your Bitcoin SV using Bitcoin SV wallet software.
I chose to use the ElectrumSV wallet to access my BSV. ElectrumSV is an open source wallet, and while I didn’t compile from source or even double check the code myself for malware or back doors, being open source makes it less likely that this wallet is sending my keys back to a malicious third party.
Once I booted up ElectrumSV, I just chose the options to restore a wallet from my seed phrase and there my coins were.
Step 4: Move your Bitcoin SV into an exchange.
I’ve been investing in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for a while, but I’ve never really used an exchange outside of Coinbase. I’ve created accounts on a few exchanges, but mostly just tested the UI.
I read that the CoinEx exchange is pretty popular, especially for trading BSV, and so I setup an account there. I was surprised that I didn’t need to give too much personal information to start my account. I confirmed my email address, set up Googlel Authenticator, and then I was ready to go.
As a new user, I was able to withdraw up to $10,000 USD worth of assets per day. If you want to withdraw more, you need to verify more information or wait. The amount of BSV I had would only take a couple days to withdraw.
Step 5: Exchange your BSV for BCH or Bitcoin
CoinEx gave me an address to add BSV to my “assets” there. I sent a small test amount, which showed up after a few confirmations.
Step 6: Withdraw your BCH or Bitcoin from the exchange.
I then exchanged that BSV for BCH using the exchange. And then “withdrew” those BCH into my Coinbase account.
After the withdrawl went through (it took about an hour’s worth of confirmations), I moved all of my BSV into CoinEx, exchanged it, and withdrew it to Coinbase.
Step 7: Exchange your BCH or Bitcoin for cash on Coinbase.
You could technically withdraw cash from CoinEx, but since I’m comfortable with Coinbase, I moved my coins there to convert to USD.
In this case, I think I am going to hold onto the BCH for a bit. I also left some BCH in CoinEx to play around with. I’m trying to come up with a trading strategy to test there, but I’m mostly a longer term investor, so I’m struggling to come up with something.
Since I’ve sold my BSV, it has rallied $75 more dollars per coin, while Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash have stayed flat. I feel that BSV is a scam in some sense, but there might be some virtue to it. I’ve been out of the loop. I think there is some value in making a coin that is useful and good for consumers and users, but also good from a mining standpoint to get them more involved. Maybe BSV will do that better than BCH or BTC.