The exchanges did not want to support bitcoin cash, a cryptocurrency that got created as the blockchain forked
The bitcoin exchanges in India had suspended their operations for 36 hours from July 31, to monitor a ‘hard fork’ situation that divided the virtual currency’s online community.
A hard fork situation arose after bitcoin’s blockchain forked, creating another separate cryptocurrency called bitcoin cash (BCH).
The first bitcoin cash was mined on August 1, which then started gaining traction. Last week, miners and developers of bitcoins also agreed to adopt a new way of operating the cryptocurrency, with changes being made to the technology and underlying code.
The exchanges were shut down between 10 pm on Monday and 10 am on Wednesday as most of India’s top bitcoin exchanges did not want to support bitcoin cash or were undecided on the new cryptocurrency. Generally, a bitcoin exchange works round-the-clock.
“We had suspended withdrawal and deposits of bitcoins during this period to monitor the hard fork situation. This was done for the security of our customers,” Mahin Gupta, Chief Technology Officer at bitcoin exchange Zebpay, told BusinessLine.
“This was mostly in line with the shutdown of worldwide bitcoin exchanges,” he added.
The new technology for BCH, called ‘Segwit2x’ is being gradually adopted by key players.
Back to normal
“The shutdown was a precautionary measure to prevent bitcoin transfers getting lost. Now the operations have normalised and transactions are confirmed on time, while the fees of bitcoin mining have also halved,” said Hesham Rehman, CEO and Co-Founder at Bitxoxo Bitcoins, an exchange for the cryptocurrency.
The four major bitcoin exchanges in the country are Zebpay, Unocoin, Coinsecure and Bitxoxo. In India, there are a total of one million bitcoin users, with per day transactions of 1,000-2,000 coins. The value of the transactions would be about ₹10-20 crore.
“The shutdown was in line with a global move, wherein a lot of exchanges had suspended their operations. Now things are back to normal,” Sathvik Vishwanath, Co-Founder and CEO, Unocoin, said.
While the companies claimed no impact from the shutdown, many bitcoin users complained that they were not able to trade in the cryptocurrency during the period.