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How long does a Bitcoin transaction take?

Written by Evgenia Sidorova
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Investing reporter
ECOS brand manager....
5   min.
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How long does a bitcoin transaction take?

Introduction

While Bitcoin appears to be a business alternative to the financial market, one of its main advantages was the promptness with which transactions were to be carried out. And that was the reality. Initially, Bitcoin transactions took an average of 10 minutes to confirm, as promised by the protocol.

However, today, many people have different experiences. Instead of speed, they have seen that the time it takes for a transaction is not exactly short. In fact, it is not uncommon for users to often have to wait a long time. A bitcoin transfer time can be counted in hours and even days.

But this situation has only been the genesis of a question that comes to the minds of cryptocurrency users. How long does it take to send bitcoin? How fast is a Bitcoin transaction? How long does a cryptocurrency transaction take on average? Can anything be done to make this time as short as possible? What are developers doing to streamline transactions on major cryptocurrency networks? The intention of this article is to provide answers to these questions that concern many users worldwide in the cryptocurrency market.

How long to transfer BTC

During the creation of Bitcoin, its white paper revealed several features to the general public. One of its characteristics is that it takes an average of 10 minutes to confirm a transaction. Based on this, we understand that the transaction will not be instant.

Transactions must be confirmed by network miners. This is because they are responsible for determining whether a transaction is valid or should be reversed. In the case of transactions that are valid, they must be included as a record in the corresponding blockchain.

After 10 minutes, a block is released, and transactions within it enter the blockchain. In addition, every time a block in which a transaction was registered is linked to another block, a confirmation is generated. This detail is very important for our security since 3 confirmations are the minimum guarantee that a transaction should be considered valid and irreversible.

The problem with Bitcoin transactions

However, this mechanism presents a small problem. On the one hand, Bitcoin is constantly receiving transactions and storing them in a mempool. Once in the mempool, miners choose transactions to be confirmed.

Hence, if the volume of transactions reaching miners is huge, then there will be congestion. Transactions will accumulate pending processing. Consequently, this translates into additional waiting time, which often causes inconvenience to users.

At this stage, another important aspect to take into account is mining commissions. Miners receive money in the form of commissions as a reward for their work. For this reason, those transacting in bitcoin must indicate the amount intended to pay for this aspect of the negotiation. In this sense, people who pay higher fees get more interest from miners. That is, the one who pays more commission has a higher priority.

Bitcoin transaction
Bitcoin transaction and trading concept using smartphone. Flat vector illustration

Factors affecting Bitcoin transaction confirmation

As noted above, the time required for miners to validate a block and include it in the blockchain, as well as to validate the next block, is 10 minutes.

But, on the other hand, a transaction can be considered valid and irreversible when at least three confirmations are made. Thus, the user who has made a transaction should receive a secure confirmation message 30 minutes after the corresponding operation is performed. This is provided that the network is not overloaded. In short, the speed of transactions in the cryptocurrency network depends on several factors:

  1. The volume of transactions that the network manages at the moment,
  2. Average confirmation time between one block and another
  3. Growth or fall in network mining power,
  4. Average commissions that are paid to miners.

It should also be taken into account that some entities belonging to the cryptocurrency ecosystem do not consider the transaction valid until they receive at least 5-6 confirmations, which can further increase the waiting time.

Why are Bitcoin transactions delayed?

As noted above, there are various factors inherent in the field of cryptocurrency transactions that lead to a significant delay in updating the balance in wallets.

On the one hand, there is a time set by the network for processing between a block of information and the next block of information, this time is set by bitcoin to an average of 10 minutes. But there are also factors such as commissions that are given to people involved in mining.

And adding to all this, we have the number of transactions that the networks have to process at a given moment, that by exceeding the computing power of the networks, they become overloaded, which leads to a significant delay in response time.

How long do BTC transfers take?

Transaction confirmations are necessary because it is a resource used by cryptocurrency networks to perform various checks on the information contained in each transaction. This confirmation process prevents double spending of the cryptocurrency, verifying the signature of the sender and the signature of the recipient of the specified transaction, among other characteristics such as the timestamp of the transaction.

The above process requires time associated with the computational analysis that each transaction undergoes. This is why “instant transactions” are becoming a way of saying “not enough time”. This “short time” will suffer greatly if you add to it the other factors already mentioned in this article. Thus, instant transactions are an elusive goal if we take into account such factors typical for the cryptocurrency ecosystem as decentralization and cryptographic security.

It is worth noting that there are platforms that provide services in the field of cryptocurrencies that offer services where the waiting time is drastically reduced from 5 minutes when transactions are made between users of the same platform. But these platforms are centralized, and with that, the whole point of cryptocurrencies is lost.

How to speed up a transaction?

If the transaction takes a long time to process, don’t panic, it’s not a scam. For various reasons, it is waiting to be serviced by the miners in the mempool. There are several ways miners can service a stuck transaction. Below is a brief reference to each of these methods.

CPFP (Child Pays for Parent), as the name suggests, is a technique that seeks to make a child transaction pay for a parent transaction. This is one of the easiest ways to speed up a bitcoin transaction.

RBF (Replace By Fee) is another widely used method to speed up a transaction. As the name implies, it is about replacing the originally executed transaction with a new transaction. This new transaction will have the same characteristics as the first one. However, the replacement transaction will have the necessary fee for it to be processed by the miners.

Сonclusion

Ideally, when making transactions in cryptocurrencies, you should be able to instantly see the updated balance in the wallet. This fact is influenced by various factors that coexist with the process itself of each cryptocurrency network.

However, there are many developers and service providers in the field of cryptocurrencies who are working to make the time required for transactions to be reflected in wallets closer and closer to the concept of instant transactions. And now you know “how long to transfer BTC”.


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