Why Is My Bitcoin Transaction Unconfirmed?

Let’s face it; there is nothing worse than having a looming unconfirmed Bitcoin transaction. Even though the crypto industry processes transactions quite differently from the traditional analogue vendors, there is still plenty of stress to go around when a deal is stuck between crypto heaven and hell. There is a multitude of factors to consider as to why a certain transaction might be unconfirmed for a prolonged period of time, and not all of them should be a cause for alarm. However, there are ways and precautions that users are able to take to ensure that their Bitcoin has been successfully registered and added to the blockchain. 

Most of the time, Bitcoin transactions get stuck in processing protocols because the network has a lot of traffic or something doesn’t add up on the computing side of things. Most of the time, users will find themselves completely helpless and unable to act in any way to make the process go any faster and verify their purchase. Nevertheless, most of the time is not all the time. Let’s dissect Bitcoin transactions and see where traders are able to act.

How Do Bitcoin Transactions Work? 

When a user transfers Bitcoin or any digital currency onto their crypto wallets, the blockchain network responsible for seeing that transaction through has to make sure that the trader in question is in fact, the rightful owner of the digital assets.

Physical bitcoin on top of papers with market graphs printed

The crypto wallet apps themselves are not responsible for the movements of the ones and zeros; they’re just the final grounds. When a user incentivises a new Bitcoin transaction, the Bitcoin blockchain is immediately prompted to compute and generate new blockchain blocks that will be added to the already existing chain of blocks. So how are these blocks created? And, more importantly, who’s responsible for the creation of these blocks? Well, that task is given to the crypto miners.

When it comes to Bitcoin, because it is the most popular and sought after digital currency in the world, miners have to exert a lot of power and effort to verify an action’s existence. Miners are rewarded with transaction fees for their efforts and lay at the core of the transaction’s journey. Most notably, they hold the key to the time it takes to confirm one.

Because the Bitcoin blockchain network does not have blank blocks ready to have data written on them, miners have to create these blocks themselves. Different miners are using different processing units and rigs to make the transaction work, so there are a lot of things that can potentially go wrong and prolong the process. Still, users can expect new Bitcoin blocks to be mined within the span of an hour. That being said, larger transactions require miners to go through multiple conformations in order for the computing to be correct.  

Unconfirmed BTC Transactions

In a complex network system, such as the Bitcoin one, there are a lot of factors that contribute to the final destination, which might lead to slower processing or even the good old-fashioned breakdowns. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common ones. 

Network Traffic

The Bitcoin blockchain network is not limitless, so it’s not out of the ordinary for network congestion to take place. This happens when the network is struck by more requests than what its computing capabilities can handle. Blocks have a limit on how much data they are able to store before they are set into the chain. So, the network is constantly in need of new blocks. In essence, the network traffic is the middle ground between the market orders coming in and the team of miners working towards creating new blocks to store the data.

City overview with blue network above

Transaction Fees

The interesting thing about Bitcoin transactions is that there is no way to know what it will take for a transaction to be confirmed. From the time that a trader makes an order through their chosen cryptocurrency exchange to the time the confirmation is sent and delivered to the user’s wallet, the miners are hard at work. If they aren’t compensated for their services through transaction fees, it’s very likely that they will not be willing to do any of the heavy listings.

This is why the transaction fees are covered by the crypto exchange platform’s servers. As expected, the transactions that have higher fees attached to them are the ones that are getting prioritised. In most cases, the platform will make it possible for the users to choose their own type of transaction fees and expedite the process if they’re in a hurry. Still, this is not a guarantee that the transaction will be confirmed in a certain time frame. It’s not even a guarantee that the transaction will be successful at all, as occasionally, things do get lost in the shuffle. 

In most cases, it does take an hour to verify a transaction if everything is running as it should. The Bitcoin network makes six passes on the order every ten minutes. If this is way too long and doesn’t go in line with the user’s needs and preferences, they can make an instant purchase as long as they don’t mind the super high transaction fees. 

Fee Structures

The basic fee structure is calculated by an algorithm that determines the amount of power needed for the protocols to be set in place and do their job. As you can guess, different trading platforms employ completely different algorithms, which yield completely different results. Transactions that do not have a lot of value to them are usually processed in one pass.

Smiling woman holding zero percent sign on dark blue background

There is also the crypto wallet end of things. Wallets are usually programmed to request multiple passes on a transaction before they accept and store it. Some native crypto exchange wallets rewire more passes than others, so traders should always consider this before settling with one, and balance the speed and security parameters that will provide them with the most enjoyable experience. 

Maths Equations

Different block equations require different sets of tools and advanced maths before they are solved and can verify an order. The speed at which these equations are being solved is tied into the employed hash rates. The more complex the equation, the more processing power it will take to solve it. 

How to Unstuck an Unconfirmed BTC Transaction?

Sometimes traders have to realise that their transaction isn’t pending and that it’s actually stuck. There are a couple of signs and warnings that can point to that, and there are fixes that can be applied if their effectiveness is known to be limited. 

Patience

When a Bitcoin network is flooded with orders, it sets up an algorithm-driven mode that segregates protocols and inlines them differently so that the processors are able to work out the data at their processing power and not be overwhelmed. This is the main reason why some transactions get lost in the shuffle sometimes and can be stuck for months on end before the system spots them.

Closed fists on top of wood table

The best solution in this case, if the employed vendor does allow it, is to completely delete the order. This way, everything goes back to bit one and can be executed promptly from the beginning. A successful annulling of an order should always provide the user with a receipt that the order is indeed cancelled. Traders should ask for the receipt if it is not provided to them automatically because, down the line, the order might get executed and cause a whole lot of unwanted commotion. 

That being said, users should be very patient and not reach for the rebroadcast button in order to resent their already registered transaction. Some crypto exchange platforms will offer users ways of tracking their orders so that they are able to see where the entanglement is taking place, should there be one.

If their native crypto trading platform does not support a tracking feature, traders can also revert to pages such as Blockchain.com and Bitcoin Block Explorer if they are willing to share their transaction ID and track their order. 

Child Pays for Parent (CPFP)

The CPFP method comes into play when you’ve sent a transaction with a low fee attached. In order to bring the initial transaction back to the forefront, users are able to order a new transaction, including a higher transaction fee by making use of their first-transaction digital assets. 

This should be enough to spark the interest of the miners and make them pick up the more lucrative deal. However, this doesn’t imply that the second transaction can go through before the first one has been processed. The second transaction order is simply used as bait to turn some heads in the transaction’s direction. Because the miners will be hungry for the fee attached to the second order, they will likely prioritise the first one to get to the second one. Not to worry, the CPFP is available from some of the most popular Bitcoin wallets on the market, including the Electrum and MyCelium.

Like with all other methods of promoting action on stuck trades, users should always be patient and wait a bit before they reach for the troubleshooting options.

Replace by Fee (RBF)

The most common solution for getting a transaction up and going again is making use of the Replace by Fee (RBF) feature that makes it possible for users to modify their low or default transaction fee and set it to a higher setting so that the network can prioritise their order.

Hands holding dollar bills forming circle on white surface

That being said, not all Bitcoin wallets and crypto trading platforms have this feature because not all of them employ RBF protocols that are able to dive into an unconfirmed transaction and change its parameters on the go. The protocol itself can cause a great deal of damage and is classified as a double-spend transaction. Nevertheless, this is an option that, if done right, can and probably will prompt the blockchain miners to take notice of the transaction since it becomes more lucrative for them. 

FAQ 

How to make a quick Bitcoin transaction?

The quickest and most secure way of executing a Bitcoin transaction is usually by employing the services of Bitcoin ATMs. BATMs provide lightning-quick processing; however, they do require the users to provide identity authentication and come at high prices for their services. If that works for the users, then they are able to swap Bitcoin for other currencies such as Litecoin (LTC), Ethereum (ETH), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) at the drop of a dime and enjoy top priority on the translation networks.

Can I have my BTC transaction confirmed in less than 10 minutes?

While it’s not out of the realm of possibility for a transaction to be processed and confirmed in ten minutes or less, trailers should never bank on this scenario taking place. BTC transactions that are over in less than ten minutes are not a frequent sight and should not be expected. 

Is it possible to speed up confirmation times?

There are ways for a transaction to be sped up; however, they are always tied in with higher costs that aren’t as effective as advertised. When reaching for alternative methods to make a transaction go through or bait a blockchain network into recognizing a pending transaction, users are always dealing with a great deal of risk. There are no promises, and nothing is for certain on a network that’s 100% run by machines.

A Few Words Before You Go…

As long as there are entanglements, there will always be new and creative methods of forcing square pegs into a round hole. Alternatives such as SegWit format wallet addresses cause separation on the transaction signatures to make it thinner, smaller, and riding like a moped on a clogged avenue. But none of these fixes are remedies or blocks to build on in making the transaction times and manners on transactions better and more effective. 

In an era where we must have everything now and not a second too late, it’s understandable why long transaction confirmation times may be the cause of a lot of angst and anxiety. Nevertheless, all of that can be offset if users are willing to live with the high fees and sometimes ridiculously high transaction fees. It’s an old one; we’ve all heard it before – Time is money, only in this case it goes hand in hand with the number of confirmations.