Confirmations Of Crypto Transactions What Is It

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Bitcoin Confirmations

Roughly every ten minutes, a new block is created and added to the blockchain through the mining process. This block verifies and records any new transactions. The transactions are then said to have been confirmed by the Bitcoin network.

For example, if Sean sends one bitcoin to John, this transaction will remain “unconfirmed” until the next block is created. Once that block is created and the new transaction is verified and included in that block, the transaction will have one confirmation. Approximately every ten minutes thereafter, a new block is created and the transaction is reconfirmed by the Bitcoin network. While some services are instant or only require one confirmation, many Bitcoin companies will require more as each confirmation greatly decreases the likelihood of a payment being reversed. It is common for six confirmations to be required which takes about an hour.

How many Bitcoin Confirmations are Enough?

How to Check Bitcoin Confirmations

Once you make a transaction, your wallet should give you an option to view the transaction on a block explorer or give you the transaction ID.

A transaction ID looks like this: 7a43510802e113b7059851ef0a8a5c3625db37541861dd982f56253b2d5c4ff9

To check the number of confirmations for a transaction, paste the ID into a block explorer like blockchain.info:

Press enter and then you’ll see more details about your transaction:

What is the Average Bitcoin Confirmation Time?

There is a greater than 60% chance your transaction will be confirmed within 10 minutes if you pay a high enough fee:

Having an Issue With Your Wallet?

Some wallets are not updated to send transactions with the proper fee.

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Our guide on the best bitcoin wallets features wallets with good fee estimators. Read it here!

Is your Bitcoin Transaction Unconfirmed for Hours?

If your transaction is unconfirmed for hours, just wait. If more than 72 hours pass and your transaction still isn’t confirmed, you can re-send the transaction.

We recommend using Electrum wallet with a hardware wallet like the Ledger Nano X, since it allows you to raise the fee on transactions if they get stuck.

How Many Confirmations Does Coinbase Need?

Coinbase requires three confirmations before a transaction will show up and be spendable in your Coinbase account.

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What Are Blockchain Confirmations and Why Do They Matter?

All public blockchains make use of blockchain confirmations. These are important since they can help you understand how confident you can be when making a transaction. When any transaction is first broadcast to the blockchain it starts with zero confirmations. This number then increases as the information is added to the first block, confirmed, given a permanent place, and followed by more blocks.

Blockchain confirmations are vital since they are a way of verifying and legitimizing information that will then become immutable. If a transaction is deemed fraudulent, it will be rejected from the blockchain: zero blockchain confirmations means zero transactions.

On average, cryptocurrency exchanges require a minimum of three confirmations until a transaction is accepted. Coinbase, for example, does not consider a Bitcoin transaction as final until it has received at least three confirmations .

However, the larger the transaction, the more blockchain confirmations are required. This is because the more confirmations there are, the harder the transaction is to reverse. For a transaction of $1 million, it’s not uncommon to wait for at least 60 confirmations. The amount of blockchain confirmations required to verify a transaction varies by blockchain. Let’s take a look at Bitcoin and Ethereum here.

Bitcoin Confirmations

You probably already know that Bitcoin’s blockchain creates a new block about every 10 minutes through the mining process. This block then verifies and records new transactions and appends them to the Bitcoin blockchain. This means that a transaction is unconfirmed until the new block is generated. Therefore, if you’re sending or receiving Bitcoin, it’s essential to wait until you see that the transaction has been confirmed.

One confirmation usually takes up to 10 minutes. But, since one confirmation is not enough to be confident about the validity of the transaction, users have to wait for each new block to be created and verify the information. Depending on the amount being sent, this may take anywhere between 30 to 600 minutes. Ten hours is a long time to wait for a transaction confirmation!

Some Bitcoin services are instant and require only the first confirmation, however, the majority ask for more, with some companies requiring at least six Bitcoin blockchain confirmations before accepting the transaction.

Bitcoin Confirmations via Buy Bitcoin Worldwide

What Is the Bitcoin Mempool?

The Bitcoin mempool is the sea of unconfirmed Bitcoin transactions on the Bitcoin network. As explained above, once a transaction is uploaded to the blockchain, it is not confirmed immediately but is released into the mempool of transactions, which are considered in-motion.

All nodes on the Bitcoin network are connected to the mempool, and that includes the miners who collate transactions from the mempool into a block. The miner who first solves the mathematical equation and adds the block to the blockchain is the first to confirm the block. Therefore, the first to receive the miner reward of 12.5 BTC.

This is fairly straightforward, however, some transactions are picked out of the mempool faster than others. Why? Because miners also earn a bonus percentage of transaction fees (called the Bitcoin mining fee).

Miners will pick out the transactions with the higher fees first to earn a higher bonus. It also explains why not paying transaction fees can lead to your transaction getting stuck. In fact, as more people join the Bitcoin network, this bottleneck is one of the greatest challenges to the Bitcoin community.

How to Speed Up Blockchain Confirmation Times

The higher the fee you pay, the more likely your transaction will be confirmed in a timely manner (there is a 60 percent chance that it will take 10 minutes or less). However, if your transaction remains unconfirmed, the recommended wait time is 72 hours before sending it again.

If you want to avoid paying fees, however, you can check to see how many unconfirmed transactions there are at a given moment and calculate how long it will take.

Ethereum Blockchain Confirmations

When it comes to Ethereum blockchain confirmations, the agreed-upon number seems to be undecided. According to the Ethereum white paper, 7 confirmations should be enough to confirm the transaction (about 2 minutes).

However, Ethereum miners must check the parameters of the last 250 blocks. So, if you want to err on the side of caution like the miners, you should wait for 250 confirmations. This sounds like a lot, but in practice is only about an hour.

Coinbase requires 50 ethereum confirmations before considering a transaction complete. It should also be noted that the Ethereum blockchain faces significant scalability issues as well. Ethereum is working to scale quickly to take on more users, and through Proof of Stake, confirmations should be even quicker.

Etherscan and Ether Gas

Ethereum doesn’t have a mempool for pending transactions; it’s simply called the transaction pool. The pool contains all the transactions submitted that haven’t yet been assigned to a block.

There are multiple methods for speeding up your transaction and deciding on the best gas price when sending your Ethereum transaction. You can try ETH Gas Station to see an overview of gas usage, and you can see how many transactions are pending by using Etherscan .

ETH Gas Station

Etherscan is particularly popular since you can order transactions by gas price (simply click on the GasPrice column). You’ll then see more or less the same list that miners see and, if you select a gas price that is within the first couple of pages, you should enjoy short confirmation times.

The Takeaway

Blockchain confirmations are essential for securing your transactions. The best way of ensuring a faster confirmation is by paying a higher fee. As all blockchains begin scaling up to prepare for even more users, it will be interesting to see how that affects the prices we pay and the times we wait.

What are bitcoin “confirmations”?

When I receive bitcoins I see a certain number of “confirmations” in the client. What do these mean? Why do most sites make me wait for 6 “confirmations” before a purchase will go through?

2 Answers 2

Bitcoin confirmations represent the number of blocks in the block chain that have been accepted by the network since the block that includes the transaction.

In simpler terms it represents the difficulty of a double spend attack. With zero confirmations no proof of work has been done, so you can’t tell if anyone considers the transaction valid. Even with a single transaction it is possible for an attacker to pre compute a single block.

With zero or even one confirmation a double spend is very possible since the next block that is solved may confirm a different block instead of the one that has the transaction. That different block my show the coins being spent elsewhere. The odds that a double spend has occurred gets exponentially smaller with each confirmation.

An attacker must match the power of the entire bitcoin network to keep up with block creation so as time goes by it becomes increasingly difficult to forge a transaction.

It is generally accepted for most transactions that 6 confirmations represent enough security to assure the transition is valid.

If you don’t grasp the basic concept, imagine for a second that a network outage split the bitcoin network in half. I could send one transaction giving 30 bitcoins to Abel to one half and one transaction giving those same 30 bitcoins to Fred to the other. Each half would accept that transaction and until the two halves reconnected, you wouldn’t know which transaction would be honored tomorrow.

Confirmations are simply blocks that have been generated after the block that contains your transaction. Because there is no central authority that can be consulted to be sure a transaction will be committed, recipients use the number of confirmations as a way of protecting against double-spend attacks.

The network is always trying to extend the longest chain, and eventually, some chain will win. The deeper the transaction is in the chain, the higher the chance it will win because the network tries very hard not to duplicate efforts. (Because miners want their coinbase transactions to win, they all try very hard to extend the chain most likely to win, which makes sure it does in fact win.)

Effectively, the more confirmations, the higher the likelihood that a transaction will remain forever in the public hash chain rather than a conflicting transaction if there was one. At 6 confirmations, it is perhaps one in a billion that a transaction won’t be permanent — and that’s if the sender is attempting a double spend attack.

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