After enjoying an entire September with sufficient space for all transactions, bitcoin returned to operating as a congested network yesterday following its astonishing price rise to near $6,000.
That has clearly increased activity, including movements between wallets as well as purchases of goods and services to lock in some of the gains.
In the process, the transaction queue rose to a recent high of 55MB, some 55 times more than can be fitted in a single block. Something which has also increased fees to above $2.
Segregated Witnesses (segwit), a protocol upgrade that went live this August, was meant to address these sort of situations, at least temporarily, but that hasn’t been the case.
Segwit’s adoption has been very low, with the average blocksize rising from 1MB to 1.03MB, sufficient to accommodate just around 5 more transactions per block.
Hardly enough considering there’s a queue of thousands of transactions, which now have to wait for hours and perhaps even days until they are dropped off the queue.
This lack of an actual capacity increase after nearly two months since segwit’s activation has led to support for a simple base-size increase to 2MB under segwit2x.
Some 85% of miners continue to show support for it, while the vast majority of prominent businesses have signed an agreement committing to it.
But Blockstream is vocally against it, making the upgrade somewhat controversial and even uncertain as it is unclear at this stage whether it will go ahead and if it does in what manner it will do so.
There are still some more weeks to go, with the upgrade to occur around November the 18th. Thus in the coming days and weeks the ecosystem would be better placed to judge if capacity will increase or not.
For now, those stuck in the queue just have to wait until demand self-adjusts and the congestion subsides, returning bitcoin back to having capacity, until next time demand picks up again.