Bitcoin is a type of cryptocurrency developed by a person (or group of people) under the alias Satoshi Nakamoto. It began in 2009, and it’s completely decentralized. Satoshi intended to remove financial elites’ control over any currency and put it in the ordinary person’s hands. In this article, you will get acquainted with how Bitcoin transactions work.
How Does a Bitcoin Transaction Work?
A Bitcoin transaction is transferring a specific amount of Bitcoin from one wallet to another. It’s like a transaction using bank-issued money. However, you might think it’s just a simple definition, but there is more to it.
For a Bitcoin transaction to be valid and credible, it should have an input, amount, and output. Input is the origin of the amount. On the other hand, the output is the end destination of the amount. Depending on the two people transacting, there can be multiple inputs and outputs.
Besides the three components, there should also be public and private keys. A public key is a Bitcoin address specific to a Bitcoin wallet. It is also called a seed, and it is used to sign and authorize a transaction. The public key is also proof that the amount has come from the owner and no one else. It’s also a security measure preventing anyone from altering the transaction after it has been issued.
A private key is more on the spending side of Bitcoin. It’s a confidential numerical sequence needed to spend any amount of Bitcoin.
Once you create a transaction, it will go into a bucket, called the mempool, alongside all unconfirmed transactions from other blockchain users. It can take a specific amount of time to process the transaction. The transaction will be confirmed through mining. It is the process of adding the transaction to the blockchain or the public ledger. Anyone can view the completed and verified Bitcoin transactions to provide transparency since every transaction has its unique transaction ID.
Nakamoto initiated the first Bitcoin transaction. The Bitcoin creator sent Hal Finney 10 Bitcoins when he downloaded the Bitcoin software when it was released. Laszlo Hanyecz did the first commercial bitcoin transaction in 2010. He bought two pizzas worth 10,000 Bitcoin.
How Long Does a Bitcoin Transaction Take?
The usual transaction time of transferring Bitcoin from one wallet to another is about 10 to 20 minutes. However, different factors can make the timeframe longer.
First off is the load on Bitcoin’s network. The load refers to the number of transactions it processes. The higher the number, the higher the network activity. Thus, a longer confirmation time. The load on the network correlates to the second factor: the number of miners. There are a limited number of miners to process and confirm a massive amount of transactions.
Another factor is the amount of Bitcoin in the transaction. If a person sends a considerable amount of Bitcoin, it will run through several confirmations. A peer to peer transaction always requires one confirmation, but when dealing with exchanges, they usually wait for several confirmations before crediting the account.
The last factor is transaction fees. Some transactions are prioritized when they have a high transaction fee. In contrast, little to no fee will put the transaction at the bottom of the list. This factor is the reason for most of the confirmation delays.
Transaction Fees Explained
The job of validating and confirming each Bitcoin transaction falls to the miners who “mine” the Bitcoin. Miners enter new Bitcoins into circulation and on the public ledger. People may speed up the confirmation timeframe through transaction fees. These fees are the compensation given to miners.
The transaction size in kilobytes determines transaction fees and not the transaction’s value in Bitcoin. The formula behind the computation has a variety of factors. Some Bitcoin wallet platforms will automatically add the fee to every transaction. However, if you create transactions on your own, you can manually input the fee. Just remember to base it on the size of your transaction in kilobytes.
A good note to remember is that these fees are not mandatory, but if you set it too low it is likely to drop out of the mempool. The default setting of this expiry (-mempoolexpiry) is set to two weeks. Although miners can adjust this setting, it is unlikely that your transaction will be picked up by the miners if it’s been unconfirmed for a couple of days. To prevent this from happening, you should make sure the fee is high enough in the first place. If you have a stuck transaction, replacing it with a new transaction with a higher fee is possible to speed it up. Your wallet must support this feature, though.
What Can I Do With the Transaction ID?
Each Bitcoin transaction generates a unique identifier or transaction ID. The unique identifier is 32 bytes long or 64 characters and hexadecimal. It’s used to confirm the information in the transaction without revealing anything confidential. It’s also called a hash which is a string of alphanumeric digits.
A Bitcoin transaction is searchable via the Bitcoin explorer by using its transaction ID. By searching it, a person will know the following information:
- Amount sent
- Transaction date
- Sending/receiving address
- Number of network confirmations of the transaction
The hash is also essential when someone sends funds to the wrong address. Although it’s a long shot, the transaction ID can help recover the amount sent.
Transacting with Bitcoin is similar to going to the bank and sending money from one bank account to another. However, Bitcoin transactions are more than meets the eye. Understanding and paying closer attention to everything about Bitcoin will yield smooth transactions.