Is Bitcoin Becoming More Centralized? Why Investors Are Scrutinizing a Dev’s Departure.


As cryptocurrency as a whole takes a bit of a dive today, Bitcoin (CCC:BTC-USD) is mostly keeping its head above water. Other currencies are seeing losses of 3% or 4%, with the most unlucky posting losses of almost 10% simply from a market-wide correction. Meanwhile, Bitcoin is maintaining its current price of just under $48,000, trading up by a half of a percent. Yet, things aren’t very rosy, even as the king crypto manages to avoid bigger losses. Some news today is coming under scrutiny by investors. The departure of a key developer has some wondering, “Is Bitcoin becoming more centralized?”

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As if today’s downturn wasn’t bad enough, Bitcoin bulls have their own unique woes as Samuel Dobson steps away from the project. Dobson has been working closely with the product for years now, and for the last three years, he has held a coveted role in the project. As a Bitcoin Core maintainer, Dobson is one of just seven developers with access to the Bitcoin code.

Bitcoin Core lauds itself for keeping Bitcoin decentralized. The software, directly offered by the Bitcoin network, allows users to connect to the Bitcoin network and run nodes. Users can request specific changes to the Bitcoin network, and the Bitcoin Core community thoroughly reviews and debates these changes. If a change has enough support, it is the maintainers’ duties to implement those changes in the code.

With Dobson stepping away from his position as a maintainer, there is now one fewer person with access to the Bitcoin code. But preceding Dobson’s departure, another maintainer has stepped down. Now, as 2021 began with seven maintainers, there are now just five. This begs the questions from investors, “Is Bitcoin becoming more centralized?”

Is Bitcoin Becoming More Centralized? Dobson’s Departure Leads to More Concentrated Power.

These five developers are the ones who hold the power to go in and change Bitcoin’s code. As that number thins out, those who retain those privileges have fewer checks and balances between them. In a literal sense, Bitcoin really is becoming more centralized as a result.

But, is there a threat caused by Dobson’s departure? Probably not. Even if there was only one maintainer left, and they could go change whatever they wanted, there is a very low likelihood that they would take any sort of action outside of the community’s desires; these maintainers are vetted members of the community, and they work very diligently for the betterment of the network. As was the case with Dobson, these maintainers have sponsors who vouch for them and support them financially. Not to mention, they are also very much in the public eye; unlike pump-and-dump rug pull scams, where developers can hide behind anonymity, these maintainers are very much accountable for their actions.

So, with Dobson gone, is Bitcoin becoming more centralized? In the sense that there is more concentration of power among the few remaining maintainers, yes. A crypto bull who strongly believes in decentralizing blockchains would likely not like this news at all. But, is there likely to be any sort of bureaucratic drift or abuse of power from the remaining maintainers? The chances are razor-thin.

On the date of publication, Brenden Rearick did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the Publishing Guidelines.