With a beaming smile on his face, Bitcoin Gold co-creator Alejandro Regojo came bounding over to my table.
I’ll admit to being curious when it comes to Bitcoin Gold. Not as highly publicised as Bitcoin Cash or Bitcoin SV, my knowledge was somewhat limited. I knew that it was one of the more successful Bitcoin forks, but beyond that, not much more.
Luckily, it’s Alejandro’s job to inform people all about BTG. And there’s nothing that he’s as passionate about as pushing its widespread adoption.
BTG is 2!
First BTG block, 491407, mined on Nov 12, 2017 (forking from Bitcoin block 491406, mined October 23, 2017.)
— Bitcoin Gold [BTG] (@bitcoingold) November 14, 2019
As you can probably tell by the name, Alejandro is Spanish. His English is impeccable, but he tells me he learnt more about the language during his year “studying Chinese” in China than the numerous trips his parents sent him on to the UK.
“I had to communicate with my colleagues,” he says, “and they were all speaking English.”
With a background in internet companies and a keen interest in finance, Alejandro was studying economics when he first found out about Bitcoin in 2015. He then immediately quit and threw himself “100% into Bitcoin”.
He knew right away that he didn’t want to study how fiat worked anymore because there was “no reason” to. “I understood that there was something newer and better,” he says.
Throwing himself 100% into Bitcoin
Despite his parents’ reaction, it was “one of the best ideas” he has ever had. He’d already racked up enough study hours and even had a couple of successful companies going.
“I realised that Bitcoin was my thing because it’s internet and at the same time it’s money, so I entered first as a researcher and then I started trading.”
Alejandro explains that for a person like himself with a background in economics and risk evaluation, it was a “good entry point to understanding the market from the inside”.
The journey from Bitcoin to Bitcoin Gold
If Alejandro was so captivated by Bitcoin, how did he end up being part of a team of developers who decided to fork it? The simple answer? To “fight the Bitmain monopoly”.
He says, “At the beginning of 2017, there were a lot of issues in Bitcoin, a lot of problems, and people talking about forks in Bitcoin. That’s when I began to get involved with the Bitcoin Gold community.”
The community sprung up united by its passion for finding what Alejandro describes as “the best way” to implement Satoshi Nakamoto’s vision of Bitcoin in the whitepaper.
Anti-ASIC mining developers began to meet up in online forums to discuss how to fight the uncheckable power of Bitmain and also “fight against people who were trying to monopolise some points of Bitcoin”.
— J Alejandro Regojo (@AlejandroRegojo) December 27, 2017
Bitcoin Gold, he explains, started as an experiment, and ended up being developed as a successful project.
“Our idea was to create the most ASIC-resistant version of Bitcoin,” he says, “so at the time we considered that the perfect thing to experiment was to make an algorithm that could take out Bitmain from the mining.” That’s when the team came up with Equihash.
They changed the PoW algorithm from SHA-256 to Equihash, making it impossible for ASIC mining equipment to mine on the Bitcoin Gold blockchain. Instead, Equihash runs on commodity graphics cards, or GPUs, which are easily available to the public.
“It completely prevents any ASICs because it needs more RAM. ASICs are not good with this so they are completely left out.”
Bitcoin Gold was extremely successful, and “hit the market hard because enough people understood the importance of what we were doing – we were a top-five market cap coin”.
But unfortunately, the Bitcoin fork became plagued with problems.
The (many) issues Bitcoin Gold had to face
In fact, even during the initial fork (it had to fork again the next year when Bitmain created new equipment that could mine on Bitcoin Gold), the Bitcoin Gold website went down for around four hours.
Massive DDoS attack on our cloud site. 10M requests per minute. We are working with the providers to ban all the IPs. We will be up soon!
— Bitcoin Gold [BTG] (@bitcoingold) October 24, 2017
It was hit by a massive DDoS attack, and its creators were then accused of pre-mine. The team later clarified that this was not a pre-mine, but a post-mine – an endowment to pay developers to keep the network running.
I ask Alejandro about this and a few other unfortunate events. He says, “Everything you can think of happened to us, but the DDoS attack was not the worst. We are not a website, we are a blockchain, and people understood pretty quickly that we fixed it.”
He pauses for a moment before saying, “We released with a clear enemy. At the time, this company was one of the top in the Bitcoin space… We went out publicly with a clear enemy, so, from that, you can understand a lot of things.”
Bitcoin Gold suffered many other attacks which got the coin kicked off of Bittrex, as well as a host of impersonator scams. None of which were the fault of or within the ability of its creators to contain immediately.
⚠️ SCAM WARNING ⚠️ Bitcoin Gold is not giving away any coins and will never ask you to deposit funds in any wallet.
— Bitcoin Gold [BTG] (@bitcoingold) April 24, 2018
“With the impersonator attacks, it’s like a malware,” he says.
“We are open source, as we cannot control who lists us, we also cannot control if bad actors impersonate us. We were a top-five CoinMarketCap coin, so we were in the eyes of a lot of people and also a lot of hackers. But these are all things top coins are dealing with all the time.”
The ethos behind Bitcoin Gold
Bitcoin Gold claims to be ‘for everyone, for everything’. But the main ethos behind it is fair mining.
“Yes, this is the main idea – one CPU, one vote,” says Alejandro. “But there are a lot more things around.”
He points out that unlike Bitcoin Cash or Bitcoin SV, Bitcoin Gold has never been in competition with Bitcoin. In fact, many of its developers, including himself, work on both.
“Bitcoin Gold is the only one who is not competing with anyone. The idea started as an experiment, we started with six developers and no one was in the same room. We were in Spain, Bulgaria, Houston, New York, China, and Colombia.
“That should show you how decentralised Bitcoin Gold is. We don’t have an office, we don’t meet up, because we don’t need to meet up. We want to develop in the same way as Bitcoin so that if you remove a developer from the system, nothing happens.”
He explains that the whole notion of having a title as a “co-founder” doesn’t sit well with him. It makes the team sound like a company, and Alejandro and his colleagues consider the founder of Bitcoin Gold to be Satoshi Nakamoto. They like to be considered more like a “chain of people” than a “team”.
He and his team are simply trying to implement Bitcoin in the way they feel is truest to the whitepaper.
“I really prefer to think of myself as a co-creator of this version of Bitcoin, not as a founder,” he says.
“Bitcoin Gold is trying to develop with a limited endowment. As more developers and traders are coming, at some point we would like to not be needed – we would like to leave.
“As Bitcoin has no centre point, we would love to be just considered the people who most promoted BTG at the beginning.”
— Bitcoin Gold [BTG] (@bitcoingold) November 13, 2019
BTG falling from top five to top 40
Now that Bitcoin is considered more and more as “digital gold”, I wonder, does that in any way affect Bitcoin Gold’s branding?
Alejandro laughs, “It’s just a name we decided that sounded good, but we don’t try to make the relationship between Bitcoin and gold.”
Still, I wonder why people don’t know more about Bitcoin Gold or why it fell so low.
“One very important point to make is that we haven’t spent any money on marketing. We never spent any money on exchange listings, never spent any money on media. We like to make people understand this because it was a very big effort.
“Bitcoin Gold has never paid any listing fees or any press, but we are on 100 exchanges and in wallets, and we are on the first page of CMC.
“So when people see the downtrend of BTG in the market, they have to understand that this is the level you can reach if you don’t pay for things… The up and downtrends are completely organic, we are not paying anything and it should be considered.
“We want to work as Bitcoin itself, our idea is that easy. We don’t pay big wages. but we still have people around.
“Bitcoin Gold has paid the same exchange fees, wallet fees, and media as Bitcoin, which is zero.
What Bitcoin Gold aspires to be
“We propose an alternative system to Bitcoin itself. We think about the small blocks, we think about the goal from the beginning.
“For now, our target on the development side is the Lightning Network and a sidechain for issuing tokens, because we want companies to build with the Bitcoin Gold blockchain as they do with Bitcoin. And socially, as with any other crypto, is adoption – we are ambassadors.”
Exciting Lightning Network update… we just made our first multi-hop BTG #LightningNetwork payment in the test environment! ⚡️Lightning Network will bring INSTANT payments with virtually UNLIMITED transactions per second! 💪#btg #BitcoinGold #btc #bitcoin #blockchain #Crypto pic.twitter.com/DMd0ry2nAB
— Bitcoin Gold [BTG] (@bitcoingold) June 7, 2018
He continues: “We are on 100 exchanges, in wallets, everywhere. The next big thing for us will be to create events in Venezuela and Ghana, to get people to understand how cryptocurrency can be valuable for countries with social and financial pressure.
“Even for people who know nothing about Bitcoin, we want to get them to use it. This is the work of the ambassadors, to engage with the people, to educate and to make sure they understand that they have another system, not only fiat.”
I’m curious to know how Alejandro approaches people who are new to cryptocurrency and whether he speaks about Bitcoin or Bitcoin Gold, or both. He says, “I am a Bitcoin and Bitcoin Gold developer at the same time. I teach them about both.”
And how does he feel about the other altcoins on the market? He welcomes the innovation.
“I am not this kind of Bitcoin maximalist at all. I consider right now the list of CoinMarketCap as a list of the new generation of start-ups. Probably most of them will fail, but many others will succeed, just like regular start-ups.”
Wrapping it up
I could have spoken to Alejandro for hours and hours, and in fact, it was definitely my longest interview in a while.
Unlike so many projects where its founders are tirelessly checking their watches and talking about all the reasons their blockchain is better than Bitcoin, Bitcoin Gold is a parallel, ASIC-resistant version of Bitcoin whose developers also work on the Bitcoin network.
It reminded me very much of the community spirit that existed in the earlier days before projects started fighting each other and people with too much money and influence began dragging the industry down.
Bitcoin Gold is refreshingly simple. Its developers are open-minded and passionate, and they’re gearing up to release plenty more innovations in the near future.