Over the past few months, many people have been talking heavily about the Bitcoin network’s backlog of unconfirmed transactions and higher fees. Unfortunately, the community at large hasn’t figured out the best solutions to tackle these issues. However recently many bitcoiners are resorting to different ‘jerry-rigged’ ways to overcome the current obstacles of steep miner fees and lagging transactions.
Makeshift Solutions for Lower Fees and Better Time Frames for Bitcoin Transactions
Lately, there has been quite a bit of focus on the scaling debate, and much of the discussion resonates with Bitcoin’s transaction rate and miner fees. Fees, for instance, are always varying and lately, people have been paying upwards of $1-1.50 per transaction. For now, a great majority of people have been resorting to looking at websites like 21 inc’s average fee converter to calculate the fees for the transactions they send.
However, there are also other methods people have been using to not only pay lower fees, but also get their transactions confirmed more quickly. Just as a lot of people refer to fee websites these days bitcoiners are also looking at the mempool count and visualizing the number of transactions waiting to be processed.
Many have found over the past few months that particularly on Saturdays and Sundays, the amount of unconfirmed transactions in the queue are far lower than on the weekdays. People have figured out and are now discussing the best time frames to send bitcoins in order to get faster confirmations.
People have also found out that during the times when there isn’t much backlog the high fee your wallet recommends for a transaction may not be necessary. Lower fees paid to miners when the transaction queue is relatively low will likely be confirmed just as fast without paying a high rate. This could mean paying 10-15 cents per transaction as opposed to a dollar if the timing is right, but it’s not a guaranteed science.
Zero Confirmation Acceptance
Another way people have improvised is by accepting zero confirmations when dealing with bitcoin transactions. The practice is considered risky to some who believe accepting zero confirms may lead to more frequent acts of fraud. However over the past year or so since the backlog started getting bad, various merchants announced they had been accepting zero confirmations. Some have advocated the practice is completely safe by saying cheating doesn’t happen very often. One particular forum post called “Why bitcoin zero confirmation transactions are safe” illustrates one company’s example.
“My present business is a busy bar and restaurant in a developing country. We operate a tab system for every customer. A customer could easily just walk off and not pay the tab. We serve over 2,000 customers a day, but this happens less than 0.00001% of the time.”
Just last week, another business called SMS Privacy got a well-received response when developer James Stanley announced his company was accepting zero confirmation payments. Stanley details that his customers were “frustrated with long confirmation times” and even with one confirmation, some transactions could take a while.
“Instead of sending money and being able to use the service immediately, customers sometimes had to wait hours,” explains Stanley. This is immensely frustrating for a legitimate customer: you’ve sent the money, you’re not trying to steal anything, why do you have to wait?”
Stanley started his experiment over a month ago and has seen zero instances of double-spends and all of his customers are anonymous.
Slow confirmation times have also produced new services called transaction accelerators. A couple of mining pools have come up with a way to prioritize transactions, which essentially claims to increase the chance of a transaction confirmation. Users simply submit the TXID to the service and wait to see if the pool finds the transaction in the next block they find.
The method is currently being offered by two mining pools at the moment BTC.com and Viabtc. BTC.com’s service users have to pay for and can use a credit card if they desire. Viabtc’s service is free but requires the transaction to have a minimum fee of 0.0001BTC/KB. Accelerators are still rudimentary and users still may have to wait a few hours before getting a confirmation.
Improvised Solutions Are Not Perfect
The makeshift methods people are using to bypass slow transaction times and high fees will be a reality until the scaling issue is resolved. The jerry-rigged techniques mentioned above are not perfect by any means. There still could be a considerable wait time for bitcoins sent with a fee that’s too low and accepting a zero confirmation transaction could lead to fraud. For now, people are trying different makeshift methods to bypass the Bitcoin network’s congestion and high fees.
What do you think about people practicing makeshift solutions when sending or accepting transactions? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Shutterstock, Blockchain.info, and Bitcoin.com.
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