What are Bitcoin Transaction Accelerators?
Imagine what it would be like if you’ve just sent some Bitcoins and the network is yet to confirm your transaction. And then, you realize that you’ve been patiently waiting for two whole hours and the Bitcoin appears to be stuck in an imaginary tunnel.
Your contact on the other end is beginning to question the veracity of your claim. You’ve sent them the transaction hash, but all this block and chain stuff are beginning to come off as some high sounding chicanery – after all, just how old is this technology anyway? Who is to say some enterprising upstart somewhere hasn’t found a way to “tickle” the system and this transaction right here was ground zero!
Ridiculous, you tell them.
Bitcoin is immutable! The blockchain is decentralized! The blockchain is tamper-proof… Bitcoin is… twenty-four hours later, you’re still muttering those words, but it’s beginning to sound more like a fervent prayer now.
Unconfirmed transactions on the blockchain are not unusual. However, Bitcoin’s increasing mainstream adoption is making it the norm rather than the exception for the past few months. That’s where the transaction accelerators serve their purpose.
But before we get started with those, there are a few things you need to know about unconfirmed transactions.
So, Why Was My Transaction Unconfirmed?
The answer to that is pretty simple.
Remember the time someone offered you $5 to get the groceries and another person offered you $10 for the same task? Can you recall how quickly you swooped on the $10 offer? Likewise, something similar could have happened and as a result, the transaction appears to be unconfirmed.
Blockchain, the technology underpinning cryptocurrency transactions, is a decentralized and distributed open ledger of all transactions. When a computer connects to the network, a copy of the blockchain transaction is downloaded into it, making it a custodian of all records on the network – or node.
These records are kept in a linear chain of blocks linked together – hence the name, blockchain. Each block has to be “mined” – a process that involves solving an algorithmic puzzle by calculating the nearest possible answer. Solving this puzzle is how transactions are confirmed, which helps protect the network against “double spending”.
Double spending is a problem unique to digital currencies that makes it possible for users to spend the same currency twice. Unlike physical cash, digital currencies are digital information stored on a ledger that can easily be recreated. With physical cash, once it’s gone out of your hand or wallet, it’s gone.
For instance, the receiving party can instantly confirm that you just handed them a $5 for coffee – seeing is believing after all. Digital information, on the other hand, can easily be copied, altered, and reverted back to certain “favorable” states.
A decentralized digital currency like Bitcoin exacerbates the problem due to the fact that there is no centralized mechanism to check whose record is genuine.
However, Bitcoin requires that all transactions have to be recorded on a shared public transaction log or the blockchain. This characteristic eliminates the double spending problem.
Bitcoin mining simultaneously serves two purposes; add transactions to the blockchain and to release new Bitcoin. Mining compiles transactions into unique blocks with unique hashes. Once a block is solved, the information is broadcasted to all nodes, verifying and validating the transactions. A certain amount of Bitcoin is awarded to the first participant who solves a particular block.
Now, if some enterprising individual had altered their record and connects to the network, something interesting happens. Their node will either claim to not have engaged in certain transactions or having more than what the network recognizes it has. This dispute is broadcasted to all the nodes on the network where the records of each node are individually verified.
But here’s the catch, since the disputed record was modified, the nodes will counter with their own unmodified records, swiftly resolving the issue by putting it to a vote. With hundreds of thousands of nodes voting against your modified record, the network will force your node to update its record to the same unmodified record on the network and that is the end of that chapter.
Unfortunately, your brave and daring adventure lasted only five minutes.
OK, What Happened to the Transactions?
Don’t worry, it’s still on the network. What you’re experiencing is a simple problem of not tipping the busboy properly to prioritize your luggage, the miners in our case.
Bitcoin transactions take time to verify due to intense number-crunching and complex algorithms required to confirm each transaction. This takes a lot of computing power. More computing power means more power consumption to keep the engine cranking and better cooling system to keep it from cranking up.
This is the exact reason why miners tend to attend to transactions that pay the most fee for inclusion in their blocks. Transactions with lower fees are put up on a “fee market” for bidding. Successful bids get slotted into the next block, while unsuccessful ones have to wait to try their luck on the subsequent blocks and then, wait longer.
With Bitcoin gaining mainstream publicity and usage, the number of transactions on the network has increased exponentially, resulting in blocks rapidly filling up with not enough room to slot everything in. Miners are spoilt for choice and unconfirmed transactions are placed on queue.
Now, if you happen to have a friend who mines Bitcoin and has a mining rig as swift as Hermes’ winged foot, go ahead and hit them up with your transaction ID for them to slot it into their block. If you don’t, there’s nothing to worry about, this is the Internet we’re dealing with after all!
Making BTC go Zoooom!
Accelerators. These are either free or paid services that can pluck out your transaction from that shambling undead queue and shunt them back into the land of the living.
Currently, two of the best services are:
ViaBTC is a free transaction accelerator created in protest of the prior 1MB limitation of Bitcoin network. ViaBTC allows users to submit their transaction ID and gives priority for the next mined blocks by its own pool of miners. The only requirement to push a transaction is that the transaction fee must be 0.0001BTC/KB or above.
As expected, being free means the site is the first recourse for those seeking redress and it is quite common for users to bump into a “Submissions are beyond limit. Please try later.” message every so often because the current block has been filled up. Meaning, they’ll have to wait to try their luck on the next available block.
Provided by BTC.com in collaboration with several main mining pools, PushTX is a premium acceleration service with an average confirmation of 26 minutes. Every hour, users have a 75% chance of having their submitted transaction ID confirmed, which goes up to 98% after four hours. The platform charges around $70 per transaction confirmation and guarantees that if the transaction is not confirmed within 12 hours, the fee will be refunded.
There you go. You get to choose from the two major bitcoin transaction accelerators. The ROI from cryptocurrency has been magical. So investing in an accelerator wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
Please share your thoughts on Bitcoin accelerators in the comment section below.
Feature Image by Gustavo Viselner
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