For the first time, some bitcoiners may have been waiting for weeks to get one confirmation as the currency’s scalability problems reach a new level following the first month ever where the backlog has not cleared at all, with around 20,000 transactions remaining stuck at all times.
The network’s fees have skyrocketed. The recommended fee is now around $4-$5, but some are complaining they had to pay $13, $26, or even more, as everyone competes against each other to access a very small amount of space which still stands at 1MB nearly a decade after bitcoin was launched.
Now that the backlog never clears, the situation causes a significant real problem, because if you are recommended a lower fee than necessary, or there is a rush and you are outbid by others after you pay perhaps even more than the recommended fee, or there is a suddent difficulty re-adjustment, your bitcoins might be stuck for weeks as everyone else jumps the queue.
Peter Todd, a bitcoin developer and a former History of Arts graduate, has suggested that one potential solution is Replace by Fee (RBF). That is, you just pay a higher fee for the same transaction to try and get it confirmed.
Right now it is porbably necessary, but RBF is as much of a solution as cutting your nose to spit your face because while it might temporarily allow you to jump the queue, you’re now competing not only against everyone else, but also against yourself.
That sets the stage for potentially spiking fees to even higher levels than $20, $50 or in super rush hours maybe even $100, while at the same time degrading bitcoin’s capacity because now everyone is making the same request not just once, but potentially multiple times.
Yet, the network is where it is because some had this genius idea that suggested people shouldn’t really use bitcoin, it should be reserved for bitbanks, now re-branded to hubs. A genius idea proposed and loudly advocated by every single one who laughed in bitcoin’s face when it first launched, with no exception save for Hal Finney.
A person much lauded by some, but one can’t easily recall just what exactly did he do for bitcoin? Yes, he received the first transaction, but did he code for bitcoin? Did he develop much? Or did he turn off his machine to then come back later when the work was done?
And these cypherpunks which seem to be much lauded, you know, Hal Finney, Adam Back, Wei Dai, even Nick Szabo, what have they actually achieved in their two or three decades save for products that no one uses with none of them really having written any peer reviewed papers to formally contribute rather than give random suggestions in blog posts or mailing lists.
But then, maybe the genius of Nakamoto extends so far as to ultimately show why we should never judge others solely by appealing to authority or name, however much others, through now proven troll armies and propaganda legs, try to idolize men of no achievement.
Emotions. The weakest part of human kind since time immemorial, when by feels they thought oceans rose to punish them specifically, or, for those a bit smarter, by greed thought to terrorize everyone in the medieval witch-hunts.
It may be that weakness extends to bitcoin too, probably because those who were in charge trusted far too much while trying to bring forward a currency which aims to operate without requiring any trust.
That means one must ask: has decentralization failed? Many answers are tempting, but at this stage it can’t be any other save to say decentralization has failed only if those of intelligence observing or acting in this space can not see how to adapt, take on the lessons and hold them up.
If they do, and ethereum seems to be very promising in that regard, then we may look back and see the bitcoin debate as the catalyst for an increased level of decentralization by turning the space into a two horse race, rather than one chain to rule all men.