UNOCS, the partnership designed to take several altcoins mainstream, has been dismantled after Feathercoin announced its departure from the scheme.
The United Open Currencies Solutions project, originally announced just two months ago, met its end unexpectedly this weekend after one of the founding coins, Feathercoin, publicly announced that it had pulled out. This left the other two coins, Phenixcoin and Worldcoin, unable to continue with the project, said representatives.
Feathercoin's new spokesperson, Chris Ellis, made the announcement at 4pm UK time via email, and in a post in the Feathercoin forum (registration required).
"We got carried away and rushed into a partnership that was being run by an external group of developers, a process in which we did not have enough control," he said.
UNOCS had been working on a software payment system known as UNOCS Bridge, which would have allowed merchants to accept payments in the three currencies. There was also to be a fiat currency exchange component, allowing users to easily obtain the coins.
Worldcoin was to have focused on marketing and graphics, Feathercoin bought its strong community focus, and Phenixcoin was responsible for handling the lion's share of software development, according to William Jones, a spokesperson for UNOCS, who also works on Worldcoin.
Peter Bushnell, founder of Feathercoin, told CoinDesk that he became concerned about Phenixcoin (PXC).
"PXC's attitude towards community is incompatible with ours," he said. "They seem to have terrible project management. There is still no Bridge but they say that they are working on it. They now have a working exchange which seems to be taking up their time."
Bushnell was also concerned about a recent change to the rate at which Phenixcoins are released.
"Phenixcoin shocked me when they launched a patch that changed the mint rate with a hard fork with six hours' notice," he said. "That was a complete shock for everyone, especially anyone who had 'invested' in Phenixcoin."
'MaGNeT', who handles PR for Phenixcoin, told CoinDesk that this issue had been solved.
"I can imagine people were afraid it would increase the block generation of PXC, but actually we were behind on generation because of the difficulty lockups. The current update solved that," he said. "Difficulty adjustment is now smooth and to our original specifications.'
Bushnell's concern was one of several raised about Phenixcoin in the Bitcoin forum. He referred CoinDesk to this post, made by another forum member, which also calls out the coin on several other issues. Phenixcoin had not responded publicly in the thread at the time of writing, but MaGNeT makes a written response here.
One of the biggest problems for UNOCS seems to be the departure of John Manglaviti (aka JustABitOfTime on the forums), who had been the public face of Feathercoin, but who then left that community to work on UNOCS. Manglaviti subsequently left UNOCS, which apparently left a vacuum.
"We all have our coins to run, and it's been tough times for altcoins so there's a lot of stuff going on," said Jones, who said that he hadn't heard from Manglaviti for weeks. "There are all kinds of projects running, and you have your private life and private jobs. So we have our hands full."
CoinDesk contacted Manglaviti, who seemed to have been holding the whole thing together. The UNOCS bridge was entirely Phenix's project, he said.
"While Feathercoin's lead developer Peter Bushnell helped both Worldcoin and Phenix with patches, the Bridge development had nothing to do with Feathercoin. They were led to believe it would be released at the end of the UNOCS website countdown, however, delay after delay plagued the launch," he said.
"I worked my ass off trying to get all three coins to engage, [including] constant Skype. However, [there were] all kinds of nonsense internally with some of the coins that I care not to discuss. I wish all three coins the best of luck," Manglaviti concluded.
Bushnell told CoinDesk that he would be happy to work with Worldcoin, but Jones has said he was "disappointed" at how the breakup was handled, alleging that Feathercoin made the public announcement before it communicated directly with the other altcoins.
Conversely Ellis, who took his role after Manglaviti left and was trying to get a status update on UNOCS, said that he hadn't heard from UNOCS since September 4.
This leaves the three altcoins with no payment system, and little way forward together. It also leaves Feathercoin trying to rebuild its community, said Ellis, arguing that a lot of people were disillusioned over UNOCS.
"I'm trying to rebuild things back to how they were,' he said. "A lot of people haven't turned up in a few weeks on the forum."