The skyrocketing cost of sending Bitcoin (BTC) has sparked a debate about its on-chain transaction fees.
According to BitInfoCharts, the average fee has reached an astonishing $40 as of Dec. 17.
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Commentators: High Bitcoin fees are inevitable
The most recent Bitcoin Ordinals inscription has caused a spike in transaction fees for all network users — with some believing that this is a permanent situation.
Data from BitInfoCharts reveals that it costs $37 to send BTC on-chain, the highest average figure since April 2021.
Mempool.space data also shows that the Bitcoin mempool — the size of the unconfirmed on-chain transaction backlog — is huge, with transactions with a fee of $2 having no on-chain priority.
At the time of writing, almost 350,000 transactions are waiting to be confirmed.
The debate among Bitcoin supporters is now heated, as casual on-chain spending is now not viable for smaller investors. While many are angry about the effect of Ordinals on fees, leading Bitcoin figures believe that double-digit transaction costs are here to stay. To protect themselves, users need to embrace layer-2 solutions such as the Lightning Network, which is designed for mass adoption.
“Fees are currently artificially and temporarily high due to JPEG clownery, but it is nothing more than a glimpse into the future. Scaling doesn’t happen on L1,” popular commentator Hodlonaut wrote on X (formerly Twitter) on Dec. 16.
Hodlonaut went on to say that expecting low fees for Level 1 transactions is “not just ignorant, it feeds into an attack on bitcoin.” This is because Bitcoin is a competition-based network which gains value over time as proof-of-work intends. Keeping fees low does not attract value, as hard forks of the Bitcoin network designed to provide this benefit have shown.
“Why is it critical to onboard someone to L1 with sub $1 fees, if they can’t afford to move the funds in five years anyway? Go to the best crypto telegram, bcash or another centralized pipe dream already,” Hodlonaut added, referring to one such offshoot, Bitcoin Cash (BCH).
Miners enjoy best USD revenues in two years
Beautyon, a well-known commentator, commented that Bitcoin is working as intended, despite the high fees. He added that if Ordinals bring the high on-chain world earlier than expected, it will act like a scythe, cutting down those who did not accept Layer 2 solutions to the network fee problem.
Adam Back, co-founder of Bitcoin and blockchain technology firm Blockstream, shares the same opinion. He believes that the answer lies in expanding layer-2 capabilities instead of relying on anything beyond miner fee incentives. “You can’t stop JPEGs on bitcoin,” he concluded.
Data from Blockchain.com indicates that miners’ revenue in USD, including block subsidies and fees, has reached levels last seen when Bitcoin hit its current $69,000 all-time high in November 2021. BTC/USD traded at around $42,000 toward the Dec. 17 weekly close, according to data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro and TradingView.
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