Bitcoin cash (BCH) surged this week as investors piled in ahead of its hard fork next week, bringing other major cryptocurrencies along for the ride. 

In the cryptocurrency world, a hard fork occurs when the blockchain supporting a currency splits in two due to a new protocol. It’s a phenomenon that regularly occurs when protocols are updated to fix security risks, add functionality or even reverse transactions.

Often, users will adopt the new, updated protocol for a cryptocurrency and abandon the old one. Sometimes, however, hard forks lead to the creation of new cryptocurrencies that split off from older ones. Bitcoin cash, for example, came into being because of a hard fork from the original bitcoin network in August 2017.

A cryptocurrency can get a boost ahead of the hard fork, because those invested in the original currency receive the newly created currency at a 1-to-1 ratio. Bitcoin cash’s hard fork is scheduled for Nov. 15. Ahead of it, most exchanges said they will suspend bitcoin cash withdrawals and deposits to protect customer funds from any instability.

Friday afternoon at about 4 p.m. EST bitcoin cash was up 16.6 percent for the week at $547.25. Earlier in the week it jumped above $600, a level it last exceeded in early September, after dipping as low as $410 last week. Its volume also jumped, to over $802 million Friday compared to just over $200 million earlier this month, according to CoinMarketCap data.

Ripple (XRP) was up 8.1 percent for the week at 50 cents, while ether (ETH) was up 4.2 percent for the week to $209.83. Bitcoin (BTC), was down 0.2 percent for the period at $6,382.46. Prices in the cryptocurrency market have remained relatively stable since mid-August after having skyrocketed in December 2017, only to fall into the spring and early summer. Bitcoin climbed to nearly $20,000 late last year.

Competing Proposals

Bitcoin cash’s impending fork has brought with it a degree of drama given competing hard fork proposals. On the one hand, bitcoin ABC, the most used bitcoin cash client, is proposing a nonscheduled change to bitcoin cash and maintaining the 32 MB block size. Bitcoin ABC is backed by major cryptocurrency miner China-based Bitmain. On the other hand, nChain, which is supported by U.S.-based Coingeek, wants to raise the block size to 128 MB and avoid canonical transactions with its bitcoin cash SV implementation.

The divide set off a flurry of commentary on social media. Early bitcoin adopter and Bitcoin.com owner Roger Ver, who publicly backed bitcoin ABC’s vision for bitcoin cash, posted a YouTube video confronting Craig Wright, self-described bitcoin creator and chief scientist at nChain.

“This is going to be epic,” Jimmy Song, a bitcoin developer, educator and entrepreneur based in Austin, Texas, tells ThirtyK. “Everyone’s watching with interest to see what’s going to happen.”

Song is optimistic about continued development in the crypto space but doesn’t necessarily see the market rallying into the end of the year. “There are a lot of people building things at this point, which is good,” he says. “It still feels like lot of stuff is overvalued, though.”

Mass Adoption of Crypto

Meantime, this week, a survey out of Great Britain offered bitcoin bulls some cheer. The survey, by YouGov, found one in five people surveyed believe bitcoin will be “as common as cash or card” payments in the future. What’s more, nine out of 10 (93 percent) of people say they’ve heard of bitcoin, while 23 percent say they understand it “fairly” well.

Market participants were also tuned into comments from Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, who told crypto YouTuber Naomi Brockwell he’s still banking on the mass adoption of cryptocurrency.

As ether rallied this week along with other major cryptocurrencies, Ian McLeod of art-tech agency Thomas Crown Art said in a press release the cryptocurrency will experience a “monumental, defining global breakout” when smart contracts can accept outside data from “oracles,” the trusted data feeds that deliver information into the contracts.

For the time being, he says, ether “is back in bull territory and is on track to enjoy considerable gains” before the end of the year when, he maintains, the currency can hit $500.

Deborah Lynn Blumberg is a Houston-based freelance writer specializing in business, finance and health and wellness. Her work has appeared in publications including The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, MarketWatch, The Christian Science Monitor and Newsday. Previously, she was a reporter at Dow Jones/The Wall Street Journal.