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Bitcoin Fees Rise: Can BTC Save Users Time and Money?

Last Updated December 18, 2023 12:49 PM
Teuta Franjkovic
Last Updated December 18, 2023 12:49 PM

Key Takeaways

  • Bitcoin experienced a notable fall on Monday, briefly pushing its price below $41,000.
  • At the same time, the average transaction fee for Bitcoin escalated, marking the highest level in 2023.
  • Crypto experts argue that Layer 1 blockchain networks struggle with scalability issues, contributing to higher costs for users.

Since its introduction in 2009, cryptocurrency has gained traction among investors. It has changed from a concept that initially perplexed many to one with which they now have a basic understanding. Despite growing familiarity, the volatile nature of crypto prices, particularly Bitcoin, continues to be a source of confusion and intrigue.

Over the weekend, Bitcoin struggled to surpass the $43,000 mark  and faced a significant setback. This rejection led to a sharp decline in its price, resulting in Bitcoin hitting a 5-day low, falling just under $41,000.

Bitcoin Dips Below $42,000 as Transaction Fees Hit Yearly High

At the time of writing (December 18 2023), Bitcoin’s trading price  was slightly above $41,018. This represents a decline of 2.12% in the previous 24 hours and 3.9% over the week. This downward trend in Bitcoin’s price coincides with a significant increase in its average transaction fee . This has reached a yearly high of $38.43.

BTC average transaction fee
Credit: YCharts

The recent spike in fees is closely linked to the rising popularity of Bitcoin Ordinals (ORDI), a form of digital asset inscribed on a satoshi, Bitcoin’s smallest unit. An analysis from a Dune Analytics inscriptions dashboard  by “@dgtl_assets” reveals that miners generated nearly $10 million in transaction fees from Ordinals on Saturday, December 16. The next day, they generated $8.4 million. This surge reflects the increased activity and interest in Ordinals. In turn, this adds a new dimension to Bitcoin’s network usage and fee structure.

The surge in transaction fees due to the popularity of Bitcoin Ordinals seems to be leading to congestion in the Bitcoin network. Data  suggests that there are approximately 290,000 unconfirmed transactions as of December 18 2023. Moreover, transactions with fees lower than $1.37 are being deprioritized in the network.

Investors Still Holding Bitcoin

Despite the recent bearish trends in Bitcoin’s price, the overall investor sentiment appears to remain positive, as indicated by their hesitancy to sell their holdings. This confidence suggests a belief in the long-term value of Bitcoin. Adding to this perspective, renowned crypto analyst Willy Woo recently shared a tweet  highlighting a key metric that may further illuminate the current state of Bitcoin’s market and investor behavior.

Woo’s analysis using Bitcoin’s SOPR  (Spent Output Profit Ratio) indicates that BTC investors are anticipating higher prices, hence their reluctance to sell. Supporting this view, key metrics show a balance between Bitcoin’s Supply on Exchanges and Supply outside of Exchanges, indicating no significant selling or buying pressure. Additionally, a decrease in Bitcoin’s velocity , or how quickly it circulates, suggests reduced movement of coins over a set period.

BTC
Credit: Santiment

Data from CryptoQuant  corroborates this, with BTC’s Binary CDD (Coin Days Destroyed) showing a green signal, indicating long-term holders are moving fewer coins than average, reflecting a tendency to hold. Furthermore, BTC’s daily transactions have also been low in the last 24 hours, reinforcing this trend.

BTC2
Credit: CryptoQuant

Can Scaling Solutions Save the King of Crypto?

The recent surge in Bitcoin transaction fees  highlights a core scalability issue within its framework. While Bitcoin’s strength lies in its decentralized and secure nature, it struggles with efficiency during high transaction volumes.

This situation underscores the demand for Layer 2 solutions like the Lightning Network, which offers faster and more cost-effective transactions, easing the load on the main blockchain. High fees, though a barrier to low-cost transactions, are essential for maintaining the network’s security and preventing abuse, aligning with Bitcoin’s goals of decentralization and affordable node operation.

Such challenges and the network’s response to them demonstrate Bitcoin’s capacity for antifragility, further solidifying its role as a transformative global digital currency.

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