Bitcoin Foundation Chief Scientist Gavin Andresen has outlined the details of new floating transaction fees to be included in the code of the next Bitcoin Core release.
In a new post on the official Bitcoin Foundation blog, Andresen stated that the updated code will enable “smarter” fees that account for the length of time it takes to confirm transactions on the bitcoin network. Ultimately, the new code will determine transaction priority, making sure that transactions confirm more efficiently.
Andresen cited needless complexities within bitcoin’s transaction fee code as the reason for the update. These complications result in inconsistent and time-consuming confirmation periods.
“Instead of using hard-coded rules for what fees to pay, the [new] code observes how long transactions are taking to confirm and then uses that data to estimate the right fee to pay so the transaction confirms quickly – or decides that the transaction has a high enough priority to be sent for free but still confirm quickly.”
Furthermore, the new code enables transaction senders to configure how much priority they want their transaction to receive. In some cases, users may opt to have as many as six blocks pass before the first confirmation is received.
Systemic fee problems addressed
Currently, the Bitcoin Core code can lead to headaches for those who send large bitcoin transactions. As Andresen explained, the new code eliminates some of the hurdles that slowed down transactions in excess of 1,000 bytes in size.
Transactions sent for free also run into problems under the existing framework. The code that determines priority for free transactions automatically places them at a disadvantage in the network. This results in a significant increase in confirmation times.
“The current situation is even worse for free, high-priority transactions: the hard-coded ‘high-priority’ constant is much too low, so transactions sent for free can take a very long time to confirm.”
By making changes to Bitcoin Core, Andresen said, users can rely on more effective transaction fee determinations within the bitcoin network.
Future updates possible
Andresen went on to dismiss the idea of small, fixed transaction fees, citing the behavior of miners – and their preference for high-fee transactions – as reasons to avoid such an approach. Notably, he said there was no desire within the bitcoin development community to institute fixed fees.
Fees should rise in the future as miners sign and confirm larger transaction volumes in the months and years ahead, he wrote:
“I expect to see transaction fees rise until a good solution for optimizing the propagation of blocks across the network is deployed, because I expect transaction volume to increase and I don’t think miners will include more transactions in their blocks until somebody fixes the 'bigger blocks take longer to broadcast' problem.”
Ultimately, he concluded, developers need to tackle this problem and develop new code that enables a more efficient and healthy transaction process.