How long do Bitcoin transactions take?

How long do Bitcoin transactions take?

The short answer: How long it takes to transfer Bitcoin between wallets varies from transaction to transaction.

When you make a Bitcoin transaction, it needs to be approved by the network before it can be completed. The Bitcoin community has set a standard of 6 confirmations that a transfer needs before you can consider it complete.

What determines the Bitcoin transaction times?

The two main factors influencing the transaction time are:

  • The amount of network activity
  • Transaction fees

The more transactions that the network needs to process, the longer each transaction takes. This is because there are only a finite number of miners to process each block and there are a finite number of transactions that can be included in a block.

Miners on the Bitcoin network prioritize transactions by the fee that they receive for confirming them. Therefore, if you pay a higher fee, a miner is more likely to process your transfer which decreases the transaction time.

Bitcoin fees for transactions

How long does it take to confirm a Bitcoin transaction?

As mentioned earlier, a Bitcoin transaction generally needs 6 confirmations from miners before it’s processed. The average time it takes to mine a block is 10 minutes, so you would expect a transaction to take around an hour on average.

However, the recent popularity boom of Bitcoin has caused congestion on the network.  The average time for one confirmation has recently ranged anywhere from 30 minutes to over 16 hours in extreme cases.

Average Bitcoin transaction confirmation times

There’s been a divide in the Bitcoin community on how to best address these scaling issues. Some members (specifically those in favor of Bitcoin Cash) believe that the solution is a larger block size that’s capable of holding more transactions per block.

Other community members debate that improvements such as Segregated Witness (SegWit) and the Lightning Network will speed up the network without having to increase the block sizes.

Only time will tell which solution proves to be the best.

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Steven Buchko

Steven is a cryptocurrency writer at Coin Central and a blockchain investor. He is also the co-founder of Coin Clear, a mobile app that automatically turns your daily spending habits into cryptocurrency investments.