Blockchain unconfirmed transactions

One of the primary characteristics of cryptocurrencies like BTC or ETH is that they are not issued by a central authority, unlike physical money. Therefore, there is no central bureau or bank in charge of processing transactions. Rather, decentralized cryptocurrencies are validated and controlled by independent nodes. This means that cases of blockchain unconfirmed transactions may arise for one reason or another.

Blockchain confirmation occurs when miners add a new block to the chain. The first of many confirmations of a transaction is established when it is added as a chain to a block. Subsequently, each additional block added to the chain counts as further confirmations of that specific transaction. This is the definition of being decentralized and it’s important because blocks deeper down the chain are much harder to reverse after a series of subsequent block additions.

With blockchain, the more confirmations a transaction has, the harder it is to hack. This is why the best crypto wallets and exchange platforms require several block confirmations before accepting a transfer


What is a block confirmation? 

Block confirmation simply refers to the act of confirming a transaction on the blockchain. When you make a crypto transfer from your wallet, it is broadcast to a network of nodes. These nodes store unconfirmed transactions in their memory pool (mempool). After that, miners take these transactions and include them in the block from the mempool, making it a part of the blockchain. 

This first process gives the transaction its first confirmation, establishing its legitimacy, therefore, it can no longer be reversed. However, the transaction may not be completely finalised after the first confirmation on the blockchain.

Crypto exchanges and wallets require a series of blockchain confirmations before accepting a transaction. This is because several confirmations on the blockchain establish the trustworthiness of the transactions and that it can no longer be reversed except the block is orphaned. 

Two major reasons why its best to wait for additional block confirmations before accepting a transaction are: 

  1. The blockpack becomes much harder to hack after a few confirmations
  2. There is a chance that two miners create a block at the same time, effectively creating a parallel chain for a period. However, the node soon agrees on which version of the block is preferred and the parallel counterpart is abandoned. Accepting transactions confirmed on only one block could mean you end up on the abandoned chain.

What do unconfirmed transactions mean on the blockchain?

An unconfirmed transaction status means that the network of validators or miners has not totally examined the transaction in full to determine that there are no pending transactions involving the same cryptocurrency in question.

Understanding unconfirmed transactions

Unconfirmed transactions refer to block transactions that are yet to be confirmed. More often than not, it only requires a bit of patience before it is confirmed as confirmation time varies from currency to currency. Respective wallet exchanges set their limit for how many confirmations is required depending on the specific blockchain. For Ethereum, the average confirmation time is under 20 seconds while Bitcoin requires 10 minutes on average for confirmation.

If the network is busy, your transaction may take longer to get picked from the meme pool. Also, if your transaction is marked confirmed but has shown up on your wallet, check how many block confirmations it has received. 

In some cases, confirmation may take too long because you forgot to set a fee or you set it too low. This can cause your transaction to get stuck in the memory pool especially when the network is busy. Miners most times prioritise transactions with the highest fees and ignore those with a low fee or without a set fee. These unconfirmed transactions are eventually dropped from the mempools. Unconfirmed BTC transactions are usually dropped after 2 weeks. 

Cancelling a transaction after it is broadcast is not easy. Although some wallets send the coins back to the sender, it may take a long time. Therefore, the best way to resolve the stuck transactions is to rebroadcast with a higher fee attached. This means it will be mind more quickly than the earlier transactions. 

Reliable crypto exchange platforms like Bitmama sorts this out for you and you don’t have to worry about stuck transactions or fees. 


How long can a blockchain transaction stay unconfirmed?

Transactions may be sometimes completed in minutes or stay up to 24 hours unconfirmed. In extreme cases, it may stay up to weeks depending on how busy the network is.

Can I spend unconfirmed transactions? 

No, you cannot. Coins from unconfirmed transactions do not exist and cannot be spent because they are not yet in your wallet. 

What happens if a Bitcoin transaction stays unconfirmed?

The Bitcoin transaction remains in the mempool until it is picked up by a miner. It is usually dropped off after two weeks.

As the best trading crypto app in Nigeria, Bitmama offers a secure marketplace for crypto enthusiasts. Perform activities like crypto trading, crypto staking, and creating virtual dollar or crypto cards for online payment. Get started today by downloading the Bitmama app on Android or iOS.



Dec 10, 2022

4 mins read

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