Bitcoin Fees Under $1 Despite Transaction Congestion

Bitcoin Fees Under $1 Despite Transaction Congestion

Key facts:
  • The number of waiting blocks decreased, but not the number of pending transactions.

  • Educating about the use of Bitcoin is crucial so that users know what to do in times like these.

Despite how congested Bitcoin has been since last Wednesday, March 11, the network’s commissions for making transactions have maintained an average of less than 3,300 satoshis, equivalent to USD 1.

The Bitcoin mempool, that kind of waiting room where transaction blocks wait until they are added to the blockchain, has already been packed for two days.

CriptoNoticias reported yesterday that more than 50,000 Bitcoin transactions lined up, while miners on this network have been operating at full throttle. It is worth noting that although the number of pending transactions has increased by 16% in the last 24 hours, the number of pending blocks has dropped from 115 to less than 100.

While this whole situation is taking place on the Bitcoin network, the cost of transaction fees increased by only 3.3%. This has allowed paying with BTC to remain quite cheap, especially when compared to the fees of some centralized money transfer services and other cryptocurrency networks.

Today, Bitcoin transaction fees average between 13 satoshis per byte (sat/vB) and 23 sat/vB. In fact, according to computer scientist and bitcoiner murcha transaction whose commission is equal to or greater than 14 sat/vB will be able to receive confirmations in a matter of minutes. This means that making a payment with BTC can cost less than $1.

Bitcoin Fees Under $1 Despite Transaction Congestion
Bitcoin mined blocks recently confirm the average cost of transactions, despite network congestion. Source: mempool.space.

It is worth mentioning that a vB is the unit with which the weight of a Bitcoin transaction is measured. The commission paid for sending such a transaction is adjusted according to its weight and urgency, since the transactions with the highest commissions are the first ones that are confirmed by the miners.

How is it possible that the commissions are so low this time?

It is not the first time that the Bitcoin mempool has been flooded with pending transactions. The most recent time this occurred was between June and July 2021. On that occasion, the main cause of network congestion was the dramatic drop in network hashrate.

The mining power of Bitcoin went down in that opportunity, after the Chinese government prohibited the mining of cryptocurrencies in the national territory. Between April and July 2021, the Bitcoin hash rate fell by 60% and the cost of transaction fees averaged 80 sat/vBthat is, about 5 times more than what is currently paid.

CriptoNoticias reported at that time that there was a block that took 2 hours and 19 minutes to be mined, when the average Bitcoin mining should be 10 minutes per block. The mempool, at that time, accounted for more than 70,000 transactions waiting, 40% more than there are waiting today.

The question to ask after comparing the Bitcoin congestion of mid-2021 with the current one is: what is different about Bitcoin today, that has kept the fees so low?

First of all, one of the most obvious differences is the amount of hashrate. As of early July 2021, Bitcoin mining power had dropped to 82 EH/s while the network difficulty was 19.93 T. In contrast, the most recent difficulty adjustment raised it to 31, 2 T and the hash rate of the network is 255 EH/s. While the current difficulty is higher by just over 50%, the Bitcoin hashrate today is three times as powerful.

Bitcoin Fees Under $1 Despite Transaction Congestion
The most recent automatic mining difficulty adjustment in Bitcoin occurred shortly before the network congestion, although its impact on this event is minimal. Source: statoshi.info.

SegWit and Bitcoin Education

One element that has positively influenced the efficiency of Bitcoin is the adoption of SegWit. Currently, SegWit has a use of 82.39% thanks to the fact that large exchange houses and Bitcoin wallets have included this option among their services.

SegWit is an abbreviation that translated into Spanish means Segregated Witness. It is an update to the Bitcoin protocol that modifies the distribution of data in each block. Some of the advantages that SegWit offers to Bitcoin users is greater immediacy in payment confirmation, as it allows more transactions to be added to the same block, and cheaper commissions.

Another factor with a crucial role, and surely the most important of all, is educating people about the use of Bitcoin. Although it is difficult to measure or confirm that people are really being smarter when it comes to sending Bitcoin transactions, the figures presented by the network give clues that it is a latent possibility.

The fact that the current committees have not taken a leap to heaven shows that people are not overpaying to use BTC. To this is added a number of tools that wallets, exchanges and websites have been adding to facilitate the calculation and configuration of the payment of commissions in Bitcoin.

Regarding websites with tools available to Bitcoin users, CriptoNoticias has a table that shows the average costs of commissions per transaction in Bitcoin and Ethereum according to the level of priority. Platforms like mempool.space are also useful for this and there are tutorials on how to get the most out of it.

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