You’re sitting at your computer and you decide you want to transfer some bitcoin to your favorite exchange, order a pizza, donate to charity, send a tip to your favorite “made” blogger, or whatever. So you open up your wallet app, enter the amount you want to transfer, hit Send, and then you wait. And wait. Aaaaaand wait. Minutes go by. A half hour. An hour. Maybe even longer and blockchain data still shows zero confirmations.
What the fresh hell is going on? Did you enter the wrong recipient address? Was your wallet hacked? Did aliens zap your bitcoin transfer into the ether? Oh no, my friend. With Bitcoin prices on the rise, there are more users and more transactions being sent over the network than ever before. While this is a Very Good Thing in terms of investing and adoption, the massive influx of activity has the Bitcoin network’s Mempool (memory pool) curled up in the corner crying for its momma.
For those not familiar with it (and I wasn’t until a few hours ago), think of the Mempool as a sort of holding tank for transactions that every node on the network has. The Mempool has a fixed amount of storage space and when that space gets filled up, the Bitcoin network gets backlogged. That, combined with too many transactions being sent with too-low tx fees, is what is going on right now.
So what can you do if your Bitcoin transaction is caught up in the backlog? First of all, don’t worry. You haven’t lost your bitcoin. Eventually your transaction will be confirmed OR returned to your wallet in the event that your transaction fee was too low. Unfortunately, under current conditions, that could take days. Since I am assuming you don’t want to wait that long, here are a few things that you can do to help nudge things along and unstick your stuck bitcoin transaction:
3 Ways to Unstick a Stuck Bitcoin Transaction
1. Use a Transaction Accelerator
No, I did not just make that up. It is a real thing and ViaBTC just happens to have one that is freely available to the public. According to ViaBTC, here’s how it works:
With the Transaction Accelerator for delayed transactions, users can submit any TXID that includes a minimum 0.0001BTC/KB fee to ViaBTC. We will prioritize to include in the next block when possible at no extra charge.
Sounds great, right? The only downside is that it can only “accelerate” a max of 100 transactions per hour so you may need to clock-watch and make sure you get in at the top of the next hour’s cycle. I’ve used it a handful of times and it has always done right by me.
EDIT: I was informed by a user over at BitcoinTalk that BTC.com has an accelerator as well. It is not a freebie, but if ViaBTC’s accelerator has been maxed out and you don’t feel like waiting for the next cycle, it could be an option for you.
2. Opt-in Replace-by-Fee (Opt-in RBF)
If your wallet supports it, Opt-in RBF may be the easiest way to unstick your stuck bitcoin transaction. With Opt-in RBF, transactions can be flagged as replaceable up until the moment when they are confirmed in a block. Opt-in RBF allows you to “update” your transaction to increase the fee, which more often than not results in faster confirmation. Bitcoin Core does a great job of explaining Opt-in RBF here. Other than the bitcoin-core wallet, the only other wallets that currently support Opt-in RBF are Electrum and GreenAddress.
3. Child Pays for Parent
Unlike the Transaction Accelerator and Opt-in RBF, which are typically implemented by the sender, Child Pays for Parent (CPFP) is implemented by the recipient. Although the process is different depending on the recipient’s wallet, in a nutshell it allows the recipient to unstick your bitcoin transaction (the parent transaction) by creating a second transaction (the child transaction) of the same amount and sending it with a higher transaction fee. That way when the child transaction gets confirmed, it drags the parent transaction into confirmation right along with it. Bitcoinist has a great article further explaining Child Pays for Parent here.
So there you have it. Three ways to unstick your stuck Bitcoin transactions. If you decide to give one of them a go, drop me a line below and let me know how it worked out for you!