For about a week and a half, the Bitcoin network’s transaction congestion and rising fee market has subsided. People are now reporting on how they are sending transactions for smaller fees, and some of them are having difficulty with wallets that are recommending fees that are much higher than needed.
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Bitcoin’s Network Congestion Has Subsided For Now
The amount of unconfirmed transactions has been significantly lower than usual with the mempool (transaction queue) averaging roughly 7,000 to 15,000 unconfirmed transactions per day. This is a stark contrast to the 200,000+ transactions held up in the mempool just a few weeks prior. The transaction stress started diminishing around the first week of June and has continued to decline to the levels we are at today.
Since the number of unconfirmed transactions has dropped and there has been more room for bitcoin transactions — fees have also dropped. Less than two years ago anyone could send some bitcoin for a fee of roughly $0.02 worth of BTC, but this past May fees reached an average median of $5 per transaction. However, fees now have abated to levels under a dollar and some as low as $0.25 according to a few bitcoin proponents.
Difficult to Verify Theories
Of course, there are multiple theories detailing how the number of unconfirmed transactions has waned and why the fee market is significantly lower than a few weeks prior. Some believe the issue stemmed from a “spam attack” where an individual or group sends a large amount of low fee transactions relentlessly. However, people believe the cost to keep this attack going is considerable and some proponents believe this theory is merely a conspiracy.
Another reason people believe transactions and fees are lower is due to less bitcoin activity. For instance, the price of bitcoin has dropped a few times after reaching all-time highs, and people are not transacting as much. Alongside this, trade volume has weakened as well to less than $1 billion compared to $2 billion USD worth of BTC trades per day. Some have also attributed the prior congestion and higher fees towards the use of darknet mixers. Another theory is that companies like Genesis mining, and other bitcoin businesses are moving/batching more transactions “off-chain” instead of settling as often as previously done. Many of these theories are difficult to verify.
Wallets and Fee Charts Having a Hard Time Adjusting
Since the fee market and unconfirmed transaction count has lowered, many people have been having issues with wallets that don’t allow custom fees. Some wallets offer three different settings in order for senders to prioritize their transactions, while others offer custom settings. For instance, this morning Breadwallet recommended that a fee of $1.78 for a typical transaction size of 226 bytes. Additionally going over to 21 Inc’s fee converter website, the tool details the “fastest and cheapest transaction fee is currently 300 satoshis/byte” for a 226-byte transaction which equals $1.73 at press time. Many wallets and fee charts have higher than needed fee recommendations for the time being.
There are other wallets that offer custom fees where users can manually lower the setting to under 300 satoshis/byte which will likely confirm just as fast as the higher recommended fee settings. Most wallets utilize a dynamic fee setting which suggests only three choices and are usually based off tools like 21 Inc’s inaccurate chart. However, there are a few wallets that offer custom fees including Blockchain.info, Trezor, Armory, Green Address, Airbitz and more.
During these times when congestion is low, users can check the mempool to see if there is a minimal amount of unconfirmed transactions and possibly get away with paying a lower fee. Bitcoin users can opt to pay the economy fee rate within their wallet settings or may even want to switch to wallets that offer customized fee settings. The choice is entirely up to the user, but for now, the Bitcoin network’s congestion is diminished and fees are lower.
What do you think about the number of unconfirmed transactions dropping and the fees being lower? Have you experienced paying cheaper fees for transactions? Let us know about it in the comments below.
Images via Shutterstock, Bitpay, Trezor, and Blockchain.info.
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