Bitcoin Gets As Busy As Ever, Speed Slows, Backlog of Transactions Grows

Just as Blockchain.info announced the week between Nov. 20 and 27 to be Bitcoin ’s busiest week ever, several tens of thousands of unconfirmed transactions have popped up on the network again prompting questions about the spike, including: is the journey to mass adoption about to finally take-off? Will this last? Is it a spam attack?

Blockchain.info reported that within the week there were two million transactions, a backlog of tens of thousands of transactions to confirm and a record 333,466 transactions processed in a day, resulting in average confirmation times reaching an unusually slow speed of more than two hours.

It says the recent episode was more intense than the previous one that occurred in the week between Oct. 24 and 28, which was attributable to an entity that consolidated a great number of inputs. For this episode, the number of outputs increased at a greater rate than usual during the congestion, according to Blockchain.info, causing the validation of blocks to take longer and putting a strain on the network even as the number of unspent outputs grows.

Signs of mass adoption?

While mass adoption is possible as a result of several contributing factors occurring in India, China and other parts of the world, such an adoption would lead to a permanent spike in transactions. Until that is confirmed to be the case, considering the situation to be another spam attack - an unusual behavior - may be the most logical explanation.  

Another view is that it could be none of the above as it is possible for some individuals to send more transactions back and forth for specific reasons.

Whichever way, it’s clear that there’s been a rise in Bitcoin-related activities, including its price which currently stands at $775 as at the time of publication - a height it hasn’t reached since 2014 according to CoinMarketCap.

Blockchain.info stated in its post:

“The number of Bitcoin transactions and unique addresses has been on the rise and Bitcoin’s market price as well as the number of Blockchain wallets have increased by 35% over the past 6 months. However, Looking deeper at the number of outputs per transaction, we notice that the proportion of transactions creating 17 outputs was three times bigger than usual (0.96% versus 0.32%) during the congestion period (@LaurentMt was the first to notice this: https://twitter.com/LaurentMT/status/802997950272172034). This difference is the direct cause for at least an extra 5 to 6MB of transaction data processed during the congestion period. During the period of high congestion of the network, the number of misbehaviors related to nonstandard transactions skyrocketed and seemed to have followed the highs and lows of the mempool.”