The Mempool: Where Bitcoins Remain Locked
In October, the mempool was large, but showed promises that the network could handle it. Now, with peak activity, transactions take days to be mined.
The Bitcoin Mempool remained crowded for days, with 100,000 pending transactions, which doubles the recent records of around 50,000 pending transactions. The indicator shows peak activity, and a weakness in the ability of SegWit to handle the increased traffic.
Bitcoin's rising popularity created a series of similar situations in 2017 as its popularity rose, although the October-November activity is even more loaded with politics and criticisms.
Fees have risen accordingly, with reported sums of nearly $100 for some transactions. In the past few days, watching the number of pending transactions live has become a favorite pastime for some in the cryptocurrency community. Even at 49.2 transactions per second, the load is becoming unmanageable.
The average transaction fee has risen to $16.
All of this does not seem to stop Bitcoin hardliners, who were prepared for an ice age of "hodling" in the case of a SegWit2X hard fork. And now, things seem to be in the same situation, as moving Bitcoin is becoming increasingly difficult. For now, the prevalent opinion is that Bitcoin is becoming a store of value- and while its market price rises, spending it is becoming harder.
At the same time, the market price of Bitcoin remains strong and attract new potential investors. As of September 2017, there are more than 15 million Bitcoin wallets. Other more timely statistics see more than 18 million Bitcoin addresses.
The mempool situation may change if Bitcoin mining picks up and block time falls to the predetermined 10 minutes. But this won't solve entirely the problem of scaling in the long term.
At the moment, there are debates whether the recent high number of transactions are real demand due to peak market prices, or a spam campaign to tarnish the image of Bitcoin and turn users to Bitcoin Cash.
Recently, Vitalik Buterin has joined the debate over the troubles of Bitcoin, considering the lack of effective updates harmful:
What is the main offense by whom you consider to be the bad actors? The main evil I think people are trying to express is judgment on bad actors trying to manifest a Bitcoin name crown they can steal. Forking is fine, swindling is not.— John Carvalho (@BitcoinErrorLog) November 14, 2017
However, Mr. Buterin, in the comments thread visited by community VIPs, still pointed out Bitcoin Cash is not the answer and may not legitimately claim just yet to be "the real Bitcoin".