How Long Does A Bitcoin Transaction Take – Explained here

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Bitcoin is a fantastic technology that has allowed the financial sector to redefine what a currency is and its role in society and around the globe.

Its main characteristic is that it is not controlled or tied to a single country, but instead, it is an agreed-upon amount set forth by buyers and nothing more.

The very concept of Bitcoin, let alone its worldwide success, has laid the foundation for the future of currency.

Another characteristic that has impressed financial experts around the world is the speed in which a transaction can take place.

Banks and financial centres no longer have the upper hand when it comes to the speed and security needed to make large transactions and send them around the globe.

It is not tied to time zones or the classic 9-5 hours of operation that banks operate at.  

With Bitcoin transactions we can send BTC to anyone, anywhere in the world for almost no fee at all.

How Bitcoin transactions work

How long does a bitcoin transaction take?

Depending on the amount of activity occurring on the Bitcoin network and if you choose to pay transaction fees or not, the average Bitcoin transaction takes about one hour to complete.

This is the standard time of completion with low network activity. 

In the beginning stages of its development, the bitcoin transaction time would take an extra half hour to 45 minutes to complete, even when the network activity was at it’s highest.

But these numbers are from a while ago, and Bitcoin’s popularity has increased a thousandfold. 

Now, when the network has a high amount of activity, the average transaction time can take from 4 hours to 2 days to verify and complete.

However, the completion times can go back down to one hour if the person performing the transaction is willing to pay a high fee.

If the activity is high, and they do not choose to pay extra fees to prioritize their activity, then they wait for their transaction to be selected and mined.

Network Activity

Network activity is a major factor in the time it takes to complete a transaction.

The network activity is the amount of transaction completed per day and the size of the mempool.

Bitcoin mempool data stats and visualisation

How is your transaction prioritised?

When you make a transaction, in order for it to be complete, it must be verified by six confirmations.

When network activity is low and steady, each confirmation takes about 10 minutes, so this is what gives us our standard 60 minutes completion time.

But as activity grows, the time for each confirmation to take place grows with it. 

How do a Bitcoin transactions work

Bitcoin transaction from Ledger Live

When you make a transaction, your transaction is put into a block and then placed into a pool with all the other pending blocks of transactions. (link to the actual bitcoin pool here)

The time it takes for your transaction to start the verification process depends on the price of the fee you pay. If you don’t pay any fees, you will have to wait until all other transactions who paid fees are completed. 

If you pay a small fee, then your transaction will be entered into a block closer to the end of the queue.

However, if you pay the highest fee, you will immediately be placed in the next block and as the first transaction within that block.

As of May 2020, the highest transaction fee was around $3.44

While this fee may not seem like much and even reasonable compared to what ATMs charge, long time users of bitcoin say that price of fees in recent months has climbed to outrageous prices.

At one point, the transaction fee to achieve a one-hour completion time was $55.

How to avoid paying fees

Check current Bitcoin fees and waiting time at https://bitcoinfees.earn.com/

If you want to avoid slower transaction times, first do not conduct transactions when the Bitcoin network is extremely active.

Wait until activity drops, and you will be able to get your transaction done within an hour without paying higher fees.

When is network activity highest and lowest?

Check historical Bitcoin fees at https://privacypros.io/tools/bitcoin-fee-estimator/

According to the network activity history located on blockchain.com, it appears that network activity is highest during the middle and end of each month. Its lowest activity occurs around the first of the month.

Also, the activity level has a pattern of rising slowly for six days and then dropping sharply on the 7th day.

This 7-day rule is not constant, but it looks like it is a consistent pattern by our observation.

So if you can wait a few days to perform your transaction, then we suggest you do so. 

How to speed up your Bitcoin transaction

Did you know that you could potentially speed up your BTC transaction?

There services which provide a Bitcoin transaction accelerator service. These are off-chain services which you could use to try and speed up your transaction.

This is useful if your transactions seem stuck, due to high network traffic and/or low fee paid.

There are both free and paid versions of these BTC transaction accelerators services.

ViaBTC transaction accelerator for Bitcoin

Here are a couple of sites that you could try out:

  1. ViaBTC – free and paid option
  2. BitAccelerate – free
  3. BTC.com – paid option

How to track and trace Bitcoin transactions

All transaction on the Bitcoin network are public. That means anyone can visit a block explorer for Bitcoin to look through past Bitcoin transactions.

Not only that, but it is also possible to check what wallet sent the transaction, and which was the recipient wallet for that transaction.

You can also see what balance each of those wallets contain. That means I can see what Bitcoins you are holding in that wallet.

This could be useful to remember and if you want to avoid this then separate your Bitcoin holdings to different wallets. And avoid sending coins between them to make sure your holdings can’t be traced.

There are many public Bitcoin block explorers to use. In order to trace transactions you need either the transaction id (TX) or the wallet addresses that either sent or received the coins.

With either of those two you can go to:

  1. Blockchain.com
  2. BlockCypher

And trace the transactions.

Conclusion

The average waiting time for a Bitcoin transaction to complete is about one hour.

But the time can increase depending on the amount of activity on the bitcoin network and the cost of the fees that you pay.

If network activity is high, the wait times will increase.

But to avoid these increased wait times, you can pay a fee and get your transaction prioritised.

If you do not wish to pay a fee, your transaction will be placed in a pool, and you must wait for it to be selected. 

When BTC transactions are slow or seem stuck then you can try and speed a past transaction up.

You can do this with the Bitcoin transaction accelerators websites I linked to.

I am sure that Bitcoin transactions, how they work, how long they take, fees, etc are much clearer now. But if there is anything at all that you are wondering about then leave a comment and I will get back to you.

Other popular guides:

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