Bitcoin Reaches Transaction Limit, Experiences Global Delays
March 7, 2016
Over the past 18 months, separate factions in the Bitcoin community have been waging a quiet war against one another about how to deal with the growth in transactions. While overall online transactions using Bitcoin are still miniscule relative to cards, PayPal, direct debit and other payment methods, Bitcoin IS growing. Last week, however, a structural limit of the Bitcoin network was reached and transactions around the world began to experience long delays. Tech publication "The Verge" described the problem:
"Bitcoin transactions are confirmed every time miners create a new block on the networks chain. Each block takes about ten minutes to mine, and can hold 1MB of information. At current volumes, there are more than 1MB worth of transactions asking to be confirmed in that time. To solve this bottleneck, many in the Bitcoin community have called for increasing the block size to 2MB."
Long waits to confirm transactions have led to confused users and some stores have suspended Bitcoin acceptance. Rival sets of developers are coalescing behind competing versions of Bitcoin codebase—Core (the original code) and Classic (a newer version). Anyone can cast a vote for their preferred code by running a Bitcoin node powered by that software. The community is hoping the current problems will speed a resolution, but the dispute has been characterized by both sides refusing to compromise and claiming the other side is attacking them.
Bitcoin as an online payment method has been receiving less attention of late as people look more to the underlying "blockchain" technology to solve other applications.