On February 22 the transaction queue for the Bitcoin network, otherwise known as the mempool, reached its all-time-high. During peak hours of the day, over 100,000 transactions were unconfirmed, and many people were once again experiencing significant delays.
Bitcoin Transaction Congestion Surpasses All-Time-High
As the bitcoin price slowly approached the currency’s all-time-high the network also suffered from significant transaction congestion. For the past 36 hours, there has been a vast backlog of unconfirmed transactions. Currently, at press time there were 108,000 unconfirmed txs waiting in the mempool following the first record breaking 100,000 six hours prior. Of course, there have been lots of people complaining about high fees and long delays throughout the event.
108,222 Unconfirmed transactions recorded on 2/23/17.
Bitcoin.com previously reported that fees have increased by over 1200 percent in the past two years. At present fees being recorded for high priority transactions have been averaging 0.40-0.75 cents per transaction. Alongside this, the network is trying to process 3-4 txs/s, and over 70 btc worth of fees sits in the waiting. The last time the network suffered from significant backlog was on February 2 with over 900,000 btc waiting in the transaction queue.
During the rise of unconfirmed transactions on February 2 Bitcoin developer, Lukejr responded to a Reddit post asking for suggestions in regards to the 75K tx backlog that day. “Just pay a $5 fee, and it’ll go through every time unless you’re doing something stupid,” explains Lukejr. The week prior while the network was suffering from congestion on January 24, Lukejr revealed a Github BIP proposal asking to lower the block size.
Mempool transaction count recorded on 2/22/17 according to Blockchain.info.
Block Size Debate Remains Stagnant
Meanwhile, throughout the congestion, these events have fired up the block size debate on both sides. Currently, there seems to be no sign of compromise for scaling solutions and bitcoin forums are filled with discussions on the best approach. Many bitcoin supporters say they are patiently waiting for Segregated Witness (Segwit), but the implementation is only supported by 26 percent of miners. Another faction of bitcoin proponents looks to the Bitcoin Unlimited client which aims to raise the block size and has 20 percent support at the moment.
Tradeblock’s mempool count recorded on 2/23/17.
Current Options for Those Looking to Send Transactions Without Delay
Currently, the only option for bitcoin users to send a transaction without much delay is to send a transaction with the appropriate fee. 21inc offers a fee calculator to help with the process of sending high priority transactions, based on their charts which are updated every few hours. At the moment the fastest and cheapest transaction fee is 180 satoshis/byte, or for a median transaction size of 226 bytes, the fee is 40,680 satoshis.
— Nikita Zhavoronkov (@nikzh) February 23, 2017
Another way a user can bump a transaction up the queue is by utilizing the Replace-By-Fee (RBF) option that’s available for core client users. This means nodes will accept a relayed double spend with a higher fee and miners may accept these transactions faster. Essentially RBF allows the second transaction to process with its higher fee, and the first broadcast is dropped from the network.
Additionally, the mining pool Viabtc has released a transaction accelerator that can be utilized to prioritize low fee transactions. Users simply submit a TXID that includes a minimum 0.0001BTC/KB fee to Viabtc’s accelerator. The transaction will then be prioritized by Viabtc, and the pool will mine these transactions on the next block they mine. However, there is a maximum of 100 txs that can be submitted every hour, but the service is completely free. Rumor has it that other pools have also created tx accelerators but will charge a fee to use the service.
Many bitcoiners have tried to figure out why these backlogs are taking place more frequently. Some believe an individual or organization may be creating spam attacks on the network or sending significant amounts of low fee transactions. Other people suggest the congestion is due to the rising price as traders are likely exchanging bitcoins more often. Whatever the case may be the congestion has yet to subside, and the mempool transaction count continues to remain at its highest level.
What do you think about the network congestion that’s been happening recently? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Tradeblock, and Blockchain.info.
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