When the option to import/export keys is implemented, will fees be charged in this kind of transaction?

  1. My friend exports a key from their wallet with 2 BTC.
  2. My friend sends me this exported key by email.
  3. I receive the key and import it to my wallet.
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    Transaction fees are charged by the miners who process the transaction. In your scenario there is no such thing. – nmat Oct 4 '11 at 4:01
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    My understanding is that they aren't so much "charged" by the miners as volunteered by the party initiating the transaction - whether or not each miner chooses to include each transaction in their block is largely the mining user's decision. But an export of a wallet is an export, not a transaction. – Highly Irregular Oct 4 '11 at 18:22
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    @HighlyIrregular good distinction. Nobody can force any bitcoin user to pay a fee but each miner (or more accurately each pool) decides which transactions to include in a block. Currently almost all miners include every transaction in a block but if volume increases those paying no or less fees may have to wait longer to get confirmations. – DeathAndTaxes Oct 6 '11 at 19:45
  • Transaction fees are paid for the service of confirming transactions. When transferring between friends who trust each other there is no need for that so it makes sense that's it possible to do the transfer with no fees. But this doesn't work in a vendor setting. – Meni Rosenfeld Oct 28 '11 at 12:34
  • Note that this allows your friend to do a double-spend attack. Of course, if this happens, you may want to get different friends. – Nick ODell Mar 14 '13 at 4:24

Since the "transaction" is not going through the bitcoin network, I can't see how a fee could be charged.

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  • Yeah. There's no way to charge a fee for this, since it's just adding information to your own wallet. The funds remain at the same address. – David Schwartz Oct 4 '11 at 2:21
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    Well in theory you could write a bitcoind implementation that just destroyed (or sent to a static address) a small amount of BTC every time that RPC call was used, but including such a thing in the client would start a riot on the forums, someone would code a fee-less version in about 2 minutes and the network would fork away from such a fee almost immediately. – David Perry Oct 4 '11 at 14:51
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    I see no reason why the software would do that. – Pieter Wuille Mar 15 '12 at 18:33
  • There would be no reason at all to do that. The transaction fee is because each miners "risk" of getting orphaned increase with the block size, but sending private keys (e.g. via email) doesn't affect the miner, so the miner shouldn't get any fee (and the user shouldn't waste bitcoins, sending them to.. no one/nothing?). – Nicolai Mar 14 '13 at 11:45

There is a difference between sweeping a key and importing it.

  • When you import a key no Bitcoin transaction occurs, the key is added to your key collection, the person that gave you the key can still spend the funds
  • When you sweep a key that means you import it and transfer the funds to another address, in this case the person that gave you the key cannot spend the funds anymore but since a Bitcoin transaction is necessary to effectively move the money the client may (or may not) require a transaction fee.
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