Bitcoin Cash was a result of a hard fork from Bitcoin core in August 2017, and on 15 May 2018, it will fork again to update the consensus rules. The update includes various op code revisions but the biggest change is to accommodate 32MB block sizes.
Bitcoin core retains the original 1MB block size whereas Bitcoin Cash will continue to use an 8MB block size until the May 2018 fork is implemented. Satoshi Nakamoto secretly introduced a limit to the block size in the core software, fearing that the network would be subject to denial of service (DOS) attacks without it. In the early days of Bitcoin, it was much easier to implement changes as the software wasn’t analyzed by the community to the level it is today.
The lead developer for Bitcoin Cash, Amaury Séchet, has gone on record as saying that the new version 0.17.0 software will facilitate Ethereum-like features to the digital asset. Presumably smart contracts will become possible via the BCH blockchain in due course. A short video is available on YouTube in which Séchet outlines some elements of the current roadmap for BCH. The video was recorded at the March 2018 Satoshi’s Vision conference in Tokyo.
Although hard forks are sometimes inevitable, it can have a significant impact on the crypto ecosystem, and there is no guarantee that it will be accepted by the community. For users running a full node, it’s a fairly painless procedure to upgrade the software to the latest version. However, it’s not as straightforward for exchanges that support the digital asset since they have to make modifications to their own internal software. Without a trading exchange, the digital asset has very little value, and if an exchange feels that the volume traded is too low, they could choose to remove the digital asset from the exchange rather than modify their software.
A simple FAQ for the hard fork has been produced and recommends node operators update their software well ahead of the 15 May deadline. As a top 10 coin, by market cap, BCH shouldn’t have any real problems persuading exchanges to accept the fork, but it’s certainly something that smaller alt coins need to consider if they don’t want to risk exchanges dropping them.