If you've noticed some slower bitcoin transaction times lately, you're not alone. Industry organizations begin making changes to help deal with slower transaction times, increased fees, and uncertainty as the uncorrected block size debacle begins causing serious problems.
Like others, I myself have many bitcoin cards including Wirex, Shift, Bitpay, and others. Shift being my favorite but lately I find myself using Bitpay frequently due to the 1 confirmation load time. With Shift for example, you draw directly from your Coinbase wallet whereas with Bitpay you must load the card like you would a prepaid card which converts the bitcoin value to fiat dollars prior to charging the card.
As is always said here on dinbits.com, I never store bitcoin online. I typically do not have more than 1 bitcoin online in any given wallet. Rather I keep them stored in a hardware wallet and move them online when they are needed. Thus, Bitpay is a more applicable solution currently with the blockchains transaction time getting ridiculous.
About 2am I realized I hadn't eaten dinner and like most people who realize this at 2am you have few choices if there's nothing in the frig. You might catch a Taco Bell or Del Taco open still if you're lucky, in the deep south you can try not to fall asleep in line at Whataburger, and other than a few local options and the big three breakfast joints (Waffle House, IHOP, and Denny's) you're stuck with about the only other option ... McDonalds.
Everything sucks at McDonalds but everything sucks more when paying with bitcoin lately. When I see no current value on BitPay and with Coinbase currently locked up thanks to Cloudbleeding, $10 worth of bitcoin needs to be sent to Bitpay, a fairly easy that takes about 30 to 45 seconds. You never know with Bitpay, sometimes it's fairly quick, other times it wants 1 confirmation (usually) and on other occasions it wants 3 or 6 so I've gotten used to expecting to wait about 10 minutes or so for that 1st confirmation. Lately it's been more like an hour.
Last night it was almost 3 and by the time the first confirmation finally convinced BitPay the money was coming, there was no longer a cheeseburger in my future. It was an egg McMuffin. Not that I couldn't have gotten a cheeseburger anyway but at 5am, it's just not the same and any desire for it had faded hour ago.
Why the fate of the heart attack sandwich with cheese? The blockchain block size.
Growing Block Pains
The blockchain blocks are full. Stuffed. Packed to the gill. Each bitcoin block can currently hold approximately 1MB worth of bitcoin transactions and associated data. If we take a look at the last pile of blocks, we see that almost all of them are at 998 KB or higher. Some nearly to the 1MB maximum.
To top it off, fee are increasing. BitPay has raised their invoice minimum to $1 per transaction to compensate and Localbitcoins who used to front miners fees have now reduced the available bitcoin to send to the value minus the estimated fees. (of course this is how just about everyone else does it too)
We've been dealing with this for a good year now but it's been problematic sporadically. Now it's become a constant and if a solution isn't put in place soon. Things are going to get really bad.
The hold up of course are the miners. Mainly the mining pools. Mainly the Chinese mining pools. However there is a large adoption for Bitcoin Core with it's Segwit (Segregated Witness) support that takes a step in the right direction and should alleviate some bandwidth on the blockchain.
That said, it's only 27% currently and that's just a bit better then 1/3 of what it needs for complete adoption (75%).
If not Core, then the miners on earth better come to an agreement rather quickly. Here at dinbits.com we've been the largest supporters of allowing time for contemplating the block size issue and denounced many a claim of the end of the world being around the corner because we knew this was not the case.
That said, the leeway time is over and its time to act. Technically the blockchain can continue for quite sometime, yes, but that's no longer a luxury to expect because the transaction times compared
to the increasing fees is no longer acceptable and it's becoming a user issue where many may simple stop using bitcoin for real this go around if it doesn't improve.
On one hand, that would certainly help the issue, but is that your answer? Make everyone miserable to the point they stop using bitcoin and deflate it's value? Sure, that works, but it's financial suicide, so on the other hand fixing this problem sooner than later is in everyone's best interest and its become no longer easy to sweep under the rug.
There's simple no more excuses to use or ways to explain the fact that it takes 4 hours to purchase a cheeseburger if you want to pay with bitcoin.
Hopefully the adoption of a solution is coming soon, because if it's not, those giving bitcoin its value are going to give Chinese miners exactly what they want. 1 MB of space per block with plenty of room per block.
I'll just say this ... be careful what you wish for.