New Bitcoin Atom hard fork launches with talks of scalability solutions

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The new Bitcoin Atom hard fork aims to take decentralization to a whole new level.

The bid for decentralization is as big as it gets in the world of crypto-coins. There have been a number of Bitcoin hard forks flinging the "let's make Bitcoin decentralized again" slogan all over the place. Although each coin aims to achieve decentralization in a different manner, few of them have really addressed the main problems facing Bitcoin- scalability. 

Bitcoin Atom promises of a scalable decentralized coin.

The fork happened at the 505888 block on the Bitcoin blockchain on January 24. Every Bitcoin hodler at this moment will get one Bitcoin Atom for every Bitcoin they hold. There will be a total of 21 million Bitcoin Atoms, the blocks on the blockchain are 1MB large just like Bitcoin and one block is mined every 10 minutes. 

Bitcoin Atom supports Segwit and promises to use atomic swaps (a feature which was introduced in September 2017) and the lightning network to eradicate expensive and slow transactions, which are the main problems of Bitcoin. These capabilities aren't available yet but developers are said to be working on it. 

Eradicating centralization

One thing that stands out about Bitcoin Atom (apart from their interestingly designed website) is that it aims to totally eradicate centralization in all its forms. 

Most Bitcoin transactions take place on exchanges, the majority of which are centralized and can get hacked. According to the lead Bitcoin Atom developer, who opts to remain anonymous: 

“Centralization is less obvious but the problem with the main transfer of value in the crypto world is exchanges. Centralized exchanges can be hacked or disappear or shut down by the regulators, and decentralized exchanges such as Etherdelta don’t trade bitcoin and only trade ERC-20 tokens. Even at that, they can get hacked.”

What Bitcoin Atom wants to do is get rid of the middlemen - exchanges, so that transactions can take place between individuals only, minimizing the risk of attacks. We don't know how or when they're going to achieve this, including atomic swap and lightning network, but they have a roadmap.

Bitcoin Atom roadmap

According to the website, the Bitcoin Atom team did atomic swap research, brainstormed concept design, and added replay protection to the test net in the last four months of 2017. Now, they are working on how to implement the lightning network which will allow instant off-chain atomic swaps.

A main net launch is expected later this month, HTLC API implementation is scheduled for February while AS toolkit is to be launched in March. Later in the year, the lightning network will be launched, the team says. 

These developers may be true to their words or Bitcoin Atom could turn out to be another scheme aimed at milking crypto investors of their money. One wise thing to do is to watch out and keep tabs on it, especially on social media. ( Twitter, Facebook

Bitcoin Atom struggling

Bitcoin Atom originally was supposed to come online in mid-December. The hard fork didn't happen until the end of January. Support for the new kid isn't encouraging too. Okex, Yobit.net and ExRates are the only supported exchanges while it lists supporting wallets as Coinomi, ESR and Atom wallet. And even at that, these wallets are yet to say a word about their collaboration with Bitcoin Atom. 

Finally, Bitcoin Atom futures market opened at $1,200 on January 14, rose as high as $1,600 a day later and plummeted seriously, especially after the hard fork happened. At time of writing the coin was worth just $65. 

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