Understanding the Fee Market and Unconfirmed Transactions

Understanding the Fee Market and Unconfirmed Transactions

Getting to know how to work with bitcoin transactions can be tricky for those unfamiliar with the cryptocurrency space. These days the constantly changing fee market prioritizes which transactions confirm the fastest. Users should get acquainted with the fee market so they can send bitcoins without the hassle of significant wait times.  

Also read: How to Choose the Right Bitcoin Wallet for Your Needs

Figuring Out the Best Fees for Faster Confirmation Times in Today’s Fee Market 

Currently, there is a capped amount of transactions that can fit into a confirmed block. Transactions that don’t advance to a block processed by miners get pushed into a waiting line called the mempool. Depending on the fee size per kb of the transaction, there can be a longer wait for transactions to confirm. Wait times can vary from more than 1-12 hours to sometimes even days. The best thing to do if you’d like your transactions to confirm faster is to use a wallet that appropriates higher fees. Many wallets now offer the option of sending high, medium, and low priority fees.

Another great way to send transactions without much delay is figuring out peak transaction times by checking the unconfirmed transaction rate according to blockchain.info or Tradeblock. Furthermore, to figure out the best fee for the fastest transaction time websites like 21 inc. Bitcoin Fees is a pretty accurate reference. At press time, the fastest and cheapest transaction fee is currently 80 satoshis/byte. That means the median transaction size of 226 bytes, this results in a fee of 18,080 satoshis (0.13$) according to 21 inc’s fee reference.

21incfees
Bitcoin fee rates according to 21 Inc. 12/23/16

 Open Dialogue & Possible Solutions

Bitcoin’s popularity has put a strain on the network and blocks can only hold a couple of thousand transactions at a time. Miners accept higher fee transactions first, and zero to low fee transactions stay in the transaction queue until the miners choose to process them. In the past low fee bitcoin transactions confirmed rather quickly but today’s fee market is a different story.

Investors, developers, and bitcoin proponents all have a different idea on how to increase the transaction rate. Some would like bitcoin to scale onchain with network changes to the block size. Bitcoin Unlimited and Classic are experimental methods of changing the code via a hard fork to do just that. Others believe a slower approach is the best way to optimize scaling. Bitcoin core developers are attempting to relieve the network with the soft fork Segregated Witness (SegWit) and offchain solutions like the Lightning Network.

The best way for the bitcoin community to deal with scaling is to keep an open dialogue. For now, users need to deal with the fee market and understand why their transactions get stuck in the mempool. Not all wallets offer dynamic fees and priority settings so choosing an optimal wallet is key to faster transaction times. Furthermore, users can choose to reinforce implementations that may scale the network by supporting concepts they agree with such as SegWit or alternate clients like Unlimited. Eventually, the scaling debate may subside some when the community reaches consensus on the best way to achieve optimizing transaction rates.

tradeblk
Recent blocks, unconfirmed transactions, and the recent mempool according to Tradeblock 12/23/16

Patience Is Key

If you happen to send a transaction and it gets stuck in the mempool, the best thing to do is wait patiently. Most likely even with a low fee, it will confirm at some point and if it doesn’t the bitcoin will regress back to the original wallet. Slow transactions are annoying especially for people who depend on spending the currency regularly, like if their wages are paid in BTC. However, there are many things one can do to optimize their bitcoin sending experience and often times patience is key.

What do you do to optimize your transaction experience with the bitcoin fee market? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, 21 Inc., and Tradeblock websites.


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