I was just wondering.

Would a transaction with a $0.01 fee get confirmed? If so, how long would it take?

  • It'd be nice to see recent statistics on transaction fees, such as the distribution of fees among confirmed transactions. If there are more than enough transactions with higher fees to fill blocks, then it's unlikely that a low-fee transaction would ever be confirmed - unless you find a particularly altruistic miner. But I couldn't find such statistics. – Nate Eldredge Feb 16 '17 at 19:50
  • I'm assuming a standard transaction size with $0.01 fee? This question would be more clearly defined if the fee were given as a rate of [satoshi/byte]. – Murch Mar 4 '17 at 10:33

This changes with time, a lot. About 3/4 of a year ago, I made several test transactions spaced out over several days with very low fees, today worth between 1 and 5 ¢. (Unless stated differently: ¢ = 0.01 $; $ = USD) They all got confirmed within a few blocks time.

I just checked my transaction history and the one with the lowest fee I was able to find had a fee of 0.000023 BTC and a size of 226 B.

Right now, 1 BTC is worth 1'037.71 $. This means that my lowest fee of 0.000023 BTC is worth 2.39 ¢. However, it was worth less than 1 ¢ at the time.

Concrete info about the current state of affairs would get outdated very quickly. If you visit a page like http://bitcoinexchangerate.org/fees, it tells you the recommended fees for getting a transaction confirmed within different periods of time.

Right now, a transaction having a fee equivalent to only 1 ¢ will not get confirmed within any reasonable period of time because there are many unconfirmed transactions having a better fee per size than any transaction with only a fee equivalent to 1 ¢.

To give you a rough impression: The 48'000 transaction blockchain.info currently has in its mempool (go check https://blockchain.info/unconfirmed-transactions for the current numbers when you read this) have a cumulative fee of 54 BTC.

The last few blocks were all full (very common, right now) and collected an average of 1.66 BTC in fees. Go click the block heights in the top table of https://blockchain.info and find the average of the fees the last few blocks took. The table corresponding to each block has an entry called "Transaction Fees".

This means that 1 B in a block is worth 1.66 μBTC (if we neglect the block header). Even for a very small transaction of 226 B, that means it takes 226 B * 1.66 μBTC/B = 0.37516 mBTC to buy enough space for it in the blockchain. At Bitcoin's current value, thats equivalent to 0.3893 $.

Of course, the fact that some transactions which get in a block have a higher fee per size than others mean that you don't have to beat the average. But you have to get pretty close to it. And it's not looking like the BTC equivalence of 0.01 ¢ will (for any transactions) be pretty close to that average any time soon.

There will have to be a solution to so few transactions going through, compared to how many there are, though. There are several proposals to this and if implemented, those solutions would bring the cost required to get a transaction confirmed down.

  • Thanks for the reply. I really appreciate the time you took to explain this in such details. Is there a chance that it'd get ditched and never confirmed (is that even possible?) or would it eventually be confirmed (even if it's pretty far from the average)? – user6613235 Feb 16 '17 at 20:22
  • That's rather uncertain. A transaction is confirmed by a miner adding it to a block and publishing that block. The transaction is permanently in the blockchain if such a block survives in the long run. But other than on the top layer, virtually all blocks do survive in the long run. For everything described before this to happen, the transaction needs to find its way into the mempool of a miner. After signing a transaction, everyone who gets hold of it can add it to a preliminary block and attempt to mine it block as long as the transaction stays valid. – UTF-8 Feb 16 '17 at 20:29
  • Currently, the only way a transaction can be invalidated is by one of its inputs having been spent. As long as that doesn't happen, your transaction remains valid. It may survive in some mempools for very long periods of time, not necessarily a miner's mempool. After that time, it can find its way to a miner and still be included into a block. However, you have no guarantee that it does in fact survive. You can – of course – republish it. If you don't know whether someone still has it, the only way you can invalidate it is by spending one of its inputs. – UTF-8 Feb 16 '17 at 20:33

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