Processing Bitcoin payments usually lasts just a few minutes, but it could also take longer. Find out why Bitcoin transactions may delay.
Quick transaction processing is among the key reasons most people today prefer Bitcoin over fiat currencies when sending payments. Unlike traditional payment methods, Bitcoin transactions occur on the blockchain digitally. Besides, the transactions don’t involve third parties, facilitating prompt payment processing.
The Bitcoin protocol stipulates miners create new blocks every ten minutes, which is the average time processing a Bitcoin transaction. While most users often receive payment confirmation in an average of 10 to 30 minutes, some usually last longer. Payment delays can be stressful to both the sender and recipient.
However, you should not start panicking just yet. Various factors can impact delays in the processing of Bitcoin transactions. The following are the main reasons why some Bitcoin transactions may take longer.
Payment Remains in the Mempool
Bitcoin transactions do not go to the miners for confirmation immediately after execution. Instead, they go to the Mempool, a network queue where the payments remain until miners validate them on the blockchain. Those transactions are unconfirmed, and users can still reverse them. Besides, the Mempool can also reject Bitcoin transactions with too low fees, impacting delays in payment processing. Bitcoin transactions can take much longer in the Mempool if the network is congested and few miners are available to confirm them.
Transactions with Very Low Fees
Crypto platforms usually charge fees for processing payments on behalf of their clients. Bitcoin miners similarly levy fees for verifying and validating transactions on the blockchain. The costs mainly vary based on transaction volumes and frequency. However, setting your transaction fees at a minimum can easily discourage miners from confirming your payments due to the limited incentives. Thus, your transaction could take much longer before receiving confirmation. Alternatively, setting a relatively higher transaction fee will quickly attract miners to prioritize your payment over those with lower costs.
The Bitcoin network boasts processing up to 7 transactions per second. However, that is not always the case. Like having many cars on the road at a time can cause traffic jams, many users on the Bitcoin network also impact congestion. Developers have introduced various improvements to improve Bitcoin’s scalability, but congestion remains a significant issue. The network often experiences peak traffic due to its extensive global users.
Persistent network congestions create a considerable backlog of Bitcoin transactions and increase the fees since demand outweighs supply. It puts miners in a tight spot, and even setting an attractive transaction fee could still be unable to speed the processing times. There is nothing that miners can do to hasten Bitcoin transaction processing if the network is congested. However, it is not a very common problem, and developers are constantly implementing improvements to reduce network congestion and enhance scalability.
Other Reasons Behind Bitcoin Transaction Delays
Apart from the above circumstances, your Bitcoin transactions could take longer than usual due to other reasons. One of them is slow internet speeds. Bitcoin is a digital currency, and all its transactions occur online. Thus, slow internet connectivity can sometimes impact glitches, causing delays in payment processing. Other experts argue block validation and size could also increase Bitcoin transaction processing times. While Bitcoin users can agree on a consensus to increase the block size to accommodate more transactions, doing so could also induce slower processing speeds. That is why many Bitcoin users opposed the calls by Bitcoin Cash to increase the block size from 1MB to 8MB.
Overall, Bitcoin transactions are often instantaneous. However, delays can sometimes occur mainly due to network congestion, lower transaction fees, and stuck payments in the mempool.