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​What causes Bitcoin transaction delays?

Luno Team
2 minute read

For the past few weeks, there have been increased transaction delays on the Bitcoin network, something which affects all Bitcoin providers and users all around the world.

When you send Bitcoin, the transaction may be instantly broadcast to the Bitcoin network, but will not immediately be confirmed. Most wallets, like Luno, require three blockchain confirmations before it will show up as completed, some may require up to six.

Luno doesn’t have full control over the speed. Neither does any other single company or entity.

How does the Blockchain work?

Approximately every ten minutes, a new block is created and added to the blockchain through a process called mining. Each block verifies and records any new transactions (such as the Bitcoin you may be sending). The network then confirms this.

For example, if Jodi sends two Bitcoins to Werner, this transaction will remain unconfirmed until the network creates the next block.

Once the next block is created and the new transaction is verified and included in that block, the transaction will have one confirmation.

Approximately every ten minutes after, the transaction is reconfirmed.

What causes delays?

Blocks are usually confirmed approximately every ten minutes.

However, the network can currently only handle a certain amount of transactions per block. Each transaction has a certain size in bytes and each block can only contain a certain number of bytes.

When the network can't process fast enough, it creates a backlog of unconfirmed transactions. The network eventually resolves everything within a day or so.

Is there a faster alternative?

Bitcoin is an evolving technology, and there is an ongoing discussion of the “block size debate”, which aims to address these problems. Transaction speeds will improve in the future if the network implements changes.

We have another option for Luno customers. You can send cryptocurrency to other Luno customers, using their email address or phone number and it will be instant and free.

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