TL;DR: As the speculative price of bitcoin core (BTC) jumped recently to more than $13,000, so did the number of BTC unconfirmed transactions and transaction fee cost. Unconfirmed transactions clogged the mempool to as high as 93,000 waiting to be pushed through. Transaction fees hit a 1 year high of nearly $6 on 26 June 2019. The price of BTC has seemingly followed suit, falling 18% in the last 24 hours.
BTC Unconfirmed Transactions Soar to 93,000, Fees Hit 1 Year High
Critics of BTC are insisting once again lessons learned from late 2017 during dramatic price runups of nearly $20,000 have not been heeded. Back then, as more people jumped onto the BTC chain, attempting to trade, purchase, and even use BTC, they were confronted with slow confirmation times (lasting days) and high transaction fees (up to $50).
“#Bitcoin #BTC fees reached a 1-year high yesterday, with an average fee of $5.837 per transaction,” the anonymous Twitter account @Bitcoin recently charged. When supporters dismissed such concern as sour grapes and that other chains would suffer similarly if they were as popular, @Bitcoin shot back, “BCH [for example] could process 10x the number of transactions BTC does daily and the fees would still be less than a penny.”
Much of the discussion stems from what’s known as the scaling debate over block size. BTC development teams have worked to keep blocks small, down to 1MB, and some are proposing still smaller sizes, while projects such as BCH have opted for 32MB blocks to ease both congestion and high fees. The BTC developer teams’ rationale appears to favor allowing for the ability to run a full node on relatively less powerful computers at the expense of the BTC user experience. High fees and longer wait times are, they insist, only relevant to those who wish to spend BTC, to use it as it a medium of exchange, and at least publicly they remained unconcerned.
Worth noting is after a flood of interest in BTC during the price highs of 2017, many newer users abandoned cryptocurrencies altogether, citing a worse experience with BTC than simply dealing with their local legacy financial institution. The price soon followed their exodus as a result, according to some experts, and until weeks ago BTC hadn’t really recovered. It’s hard to know if history is repeating itself, but other metrics are pointing to an uncomfortable reality: backed-up transactions clogging BTC’s mempool spiked to 93,000 in recent days as BTC’s price mooned to nearly $14,000. Record fees and wait times have followed, and the BTC price as of publication has plummeted more than 18% in the last 24 hours.
DISCLOSURE: The author holds cryptocurrency as part of his financial portfolio, including BCH.
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