Is your transaction taking a long time to get through? The Bitcoin network is currently showing over 41,000 unconfirmed transactions, reigniting the call for larger block sizes.
At press time, the “Unconfirmed Transactions” record on Blockchain.info reports 41,211 transactions still awaiting confirmation, with that number wavering in the 40-42,000 range.
There have been record numbers of bitcoin transactions these past few weeks, as the price soared to over $700 USD, and many users tried to rush their bitcoins to an exchange to take profits in fiat.
Today, the average size for a 10-minute block of bitcoin transactions is 960k, an all-time record. Note that this size is an average, not a maximum.
New transactions are stored in miners’ “mempool” before being packaged into blocks and validated. This chart shows one mempool recording over 8MB of unconfirmed transactions at several times over the past week:
The current maximum block size is 1MB — a figure many Bitcoin heavyweights say is too low, and a figure that has started a holy war within the bitcoin developer community.
Many proposals have been put forward to deal with the problem. The simplest has been to increase the block size to 2MB or more — but opponents say such an increase will cause Bitcoin to centralize, as network nodes with lower bandwidths and storage capacities may drop out of the network.
Other proposals include separating bitcoin transaction signatures from transaction data (“segwit“), or “Sidechains” and “Lightning Network” which process transactions separately and settle them later on the main blockchain.
So far, however, segwit and the Lightning Network remain mostly conceptual — something that does not help Bitcoin’s image when the network suddenly experiences overload, like this week.
Solution Needed Urgently for Scalable Transactions
Inability to process more than seven transactions per second and long transaction confirmation times are often used as arguments against bitcoin use by the legacy financial sector and mainstream media.
No doubt, at a time when the bitcoin price brings ever more media and industry scrutiny, failure to process transactions in a timely manner could show a currency experiment still not ready for mainstream adoption.
Have you experienced lengthy delays or unconfirmed bitcoin payments this month? What’s your preferred solution?
Images courtesy of Weinstock, Blockchain.info.