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Bitcoin Jesus praises new coin as US$7m wager falls through

[NEW YORK] The man known as Bitcoin Jesus feels like a winner even though he wasn't able to collect US$7 million from a wager with other cryptocurrency evangelists over the success of a now cancelled offshoot of bitcoin.

That's because the version of bitcoin that Roger Ver's promoting with as much fervour as he once preached in the early days of the original cryptocurrency is on a tear.

Bitcoin cash, which sprung from a split from bitcoin in August, has more than doubled to about US$900 since an upgrade to the underlying technology was called off two days ago. Bitcoin is down about 10 per cent during the same period.

Bitcoin cash is gaining as traders who were disappointed with the suspension of the so-called hard fork, or split, may view it as an alternative. Both Bitcoin cash and the version known as SegWit2x have larger block size than bitcoin.

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Mr Ver, who says bitcoin will have to allow for larger block size to speed up transactions and reduce fees, called the cancellation more reason than ever to be bullish on what he calls "the real bitcoin".

Mr Ver's wager was with Charlie Lee, founder of the fifth-biggest cryptocurrency litecoin, and three others for 1,000 bitcoin. He predicted that new coins resulting from the SegWit2x upgrade would have more value than the original bitcoin.

The terms of the trade were that at least 100 blocks had to be mined on the new chain, but that's unlikely to happen for now after the main proponents of the update on Wednesday said they're suspending the split to avoid deepening divides in the developer community.

"The way the actual terms of the bet were written is that there have to be at least 100 blocks on the fork in order for the bet to be considered valid and it sounds like that's not going to happen," Mr Ver said at a bitcoin meetup last night in Santa Monica, California.

He wore a gray blazer with a blue t-shirt underneath that read BCH PLS - BCH is the symbol for bitcoin cash.

"I'm going to use those 1,000 bitcoins to buy more bitcoin cash."

Mr Ver answered questions from the audience of about 200 people for nearly two hours, in what at times felt like a religious revival, with many of the people thanking him for what he had done to promote bitcoin over the years. The house the event was held at resembled a computer coder's version of a frat house; bare furniture, the guts of computers and wires scattered on counter tops, no toilet paper, and the distinct smell of cat urine in several parts of the house.

Mr Lee confirmed the trade was cancelled for now and says he expects bitcoin will continue being the more valuable coin because the August update called Segregated Witness, or SegWit, allows for a better way to make transactions faster, since it takes some of the work off the main chain.

"Bitcoin cash is trying to scale everything on-chain but this doesn't work for a decentralised system," Mr Lee said in a telephone interview.

"Bitcoin cash is also miner-controlled and miner-centralised. It's pretty much all sorts of wrong."

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