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maybe a naive q, but I read in a book that for small value items you don't really need to wait for confirmation of a BTC transaction (i.e. dont need to wait for it to be added to a block):

I understand the rationale, i.e. waiting for confirmation is long ~10mins or so, probably not worth it for small value tx's. But now, if I didn't wait for confirmation doesn't that leave me pretty exposed to potential double spends?

Eg I am buying a coffee which is 0.01 BTC, i can pay the merchant and at the same time create another transaction paying myself 0.01 BTC. They both end up in the mempool waiting to be collected and mined. 50% of the time i'd not have paid the merchant and 50% of the time i'd have paid him...

is the only way around this to actually wait for confirmation (or even a few confirmations)?

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There are several ways around this

  • Wait for more confirmations. Obviously this has a time penalty that is difficult for many coffeeshop scenarios.
  • Use something like lightning network instead.
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