Earlier today, it appeared as if the bitcoin network congestion was on the brink of returning in full force. With over 34,000 transactions waiting to be confirmed a t the same time, it is evident there have been a lot of bitcoin transfers recently. Things seem to have settled down once again, though, as the backlog is “contained” to just under 16,000 transactions right now.
Network Congestion Remains A Pressing Issue
To put this news into perspective, anytime the network has over 10,000 unconfirmed transactions, there is a cause for concern. Users have to wait at least 10 minutes to get a transaction confirmation when the network is not congested. However, once the network gets flooded with transfers, these delays can quickly add up to several hours, if not days. Not something to look forward to, that much is certain.
Earlier today, it would appear there was a significant network backlog. At one point, over 34,000 bitcoin transactions were waiting for confirmations. It is unclear what caused these delays, even though the matter has been somewhat resolved ever since. At the time of writing, the backlog has shrunk by over 50% again, even though the situation remains precarious.
One way to bypass network congestion is for users to pay higher transaction fees. As one would expect, that is not always possible for most people. Nor should it be, as there is no reason to pay fees nearly on par with wire transfers to get a bitcoin transaction confirmed. Paying the minimum fee should be “good enough” as long as there are still people actively mining bitcoin, a process that will last for about another 100 years.
Another option would be to ensure these backlogs can no longer occur. Unfortunately, that has been somewhat of a challenge, as there are competing development projects aimed at addressing these issues. Bitcoin Core and Bitcoin Unlimited both propose solutions to increase the block size, yet neither of these solutions seems to gain enough network support to activate. While Core’s SegWit is still in the lead, the numbers aren’t advancing all that much lately. The same can be said for Unlimited, which has seen a boost in the number of nodes, but that is about all that changed over the past week.
For now, network congestion will remain a big issue that hurts the bitcoin ecosystem. Finding a solution will not occur overnight, unfortunately, even though this type of issue is occurring more frequently these past few months. Scaling bitcoin will be the only way forward, yet getting there will be a challenge, that much is certain.
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