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Date: 2018-12-10

How long does a Cryptocurrency transaction take?

In the early days of cryptocurrencies when they were relatively new and no one really knew what they were, apart from a bunch of cryptography fans who used to send them to each other. When they would send them to each other the transaction would occur in a lightning fast fashion and wouldn't really experience any interference, apart from the obvious drop in network.

The point is that since the popularity of cryptocurrencies has grown significantly and experienced a rapid growth in user activity amongst the seemingly endless number of cryptocurrencies, there isn't a definite answer to how long a "cryptocurrency" takes because they all vary. The most obvious and the most popular cryptocurrency to date is bitcoin with all its might and power, doesn't seem to have the most attractive transaction speeds and confirmation times.

In terms of how long bitcoin transactions actually take, the short answer for this question is however long it takes to transfer bitcoins to and from wallets varies from transaction to transactions, because there is no set time as things are constantly changing. When someone makes a bitcoin transaction, the transaction itself needs to be approved by the network before it can be completed, and the much loved bitcoin community has set a standard of 6 confirmations that a transfer needs before you can consider it as "complete".

There are two main factors that can influence a bitcoin transaction, both of which are very important to the bitcoin network itself. These two factors are:

The network activity Transaction fees

Now this should be pretty simple stuff but the more transactions that a network needs to process, the longer the transactions will take. A perfect analogy of this is a highway where all the lanes are merging into one, and the traffic has to slow right down to make room for the extra cars to merge into the one lane. There is only a limited space for the cars to pass through, and the same can be thought of for the bitcoin miners who process each block and because there is only a finite amount of miners, they can only process so many blocks at any given time.

The miners on bitcoin's network will prioritize transactions based on the size of the fees that they receive for confirming the transaction. So if you are willing to pay a slightly higher fee than normal, a miner is more likely to process your transaction a lot faster than some other who have paid a smaller fee. The amount of miners also plays a major role in the transaction speeds because if there aren't enough miners to help process the transfers, then they too won't get processed in a sufficient speed.

As mentioned previously, the average bitcoin transaction needs approximately 6 confirmations from the miners before it can be processed, and the average time it takes to mine a blocks is roughly 10 minutes, so by calculating that math, you would expect a transaction to take around one hour to complete.

However due to the immense surge of popularity for bitcoin, it has caused a congestion on the network, and so the average for one confirmation can range from anywhere between 30 minutes to 16 hours in the most extreme cases.