Bitcoin blocks will ultimately fill up and fees will increase accordingly, another community figure has warned as a spike in volume continues.
Somsen: Make ‘Smarter Use’ Of Block Space
In a series of tweets April 10, Ruben Somsen, podcast host and long-time convenor of the Seoul Bitcoin Meetup, argued that despite fees increasing, they are part of Bitcoin’s overall transformation into a global payment system.
The impact, he argued, does not have to be a negative one.
“Blocks WILL be full sooner or later. We’re not making smart use of block space, so we’re likely to experience a bumpy fee ride until people adjust their behavior,” he wrote.
…It costs miners virtually nothing to add a transaction. Block space is given to the highest bidder – if nobody bids, it’s practically free. If you think mass replicated immutable blockchain data is at least worth something, then it logically follows that blocks WILL be full.
The topic of Bitcoin transaction fees has returned to the spotlight over the past week after Bitcoin price shot up to $5300 in a matter of days.
A surge in network activity followed, with fees rising as blocks suddenly became fuller. As Bitcoinist reported, the change led to criticism of certain players, such as wallets which are not helping decrease network load. Somsen agreed.
“Wallets need to get smarter,” he continued.
Fee estimates aim for the next block by default. The result? A bidding war. Better to use Replace-By-Fee (RBF) + under-bidding and automated fee bumps to get a cheaper confirmation within a user-defined time limit. This smooths out the fees.
Off-Chain No Magic Bullet?
He added upcoming technological improvements, in the form of Schnorr signatures, Taproot, MAST, MuSig and SigAgg, would also help keep fees under control, but that the wholesale rollout of these tools was still a long way off.
9/9 Does this sound complex? It is. There's simply no other way for Bitcoin to stay trustless. If you personally don't need trustlessness, you can always transact cheaply off-chain via third parties. But if we sacrifice trustlessness on the base layer, it'll be gone forever…
— Ruben Somsen 2⃣ (@SomsenRuben) April 10, 2019
On the topic of off-chain scaling, something many believe will ultimately avoid the need to pay significant network fees, Somsen also gave cautionary advice.
“…All off-chain solutions, whether it’s third party services or Lightning, do NOT make you immune to on-chain fees,” he countered. “When there are issues, people have to go back on-chain. If you can’t afford to pay the fee, you are stuck and won’t be able to exit from misbehavior.”
There’s simply no other way for Bitcoin to stay trustless. If you personally don’t need trustlessness, you can always transact cheaply off-chain via third parties. But if we sacrifice trustlessness on the base layer, it’ll be gone forever.
Lightning itself remains a technology in its infancy, despite mounting publicity from well-known figures from both within and beyond cryptocurrency.
Considered an experiment on a technical level, Lightning currently contains capacity for just under 1100 BTC ($5.79 million) in transactions, a figure which has nonetheless shot up 40 percent over the past month alone.
What do you think about Ruben Somsen’s prognosis? Let us know in the comments below!
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