What Happens If a Bitcoin Transaction Is Not Confirmed

16.11.2022

If you actively trade or exchange Bitcoin, you might have experienced situations that made you look up terms, such as Bitcoin not confirming. There are several reasons why Bitcoin transactions may show "pending" for some time, all grouped into two broad categories. In this article, you'll learn why it happens and what happens to unconfirmed Bitcoin transactions.

Processing Transactions

Bitcoin transactions may show the "processing" status report because the transactions are not completed on the Bitcoin network and are still being sent. What happens if a Bitcoin transaction is not confirmed depends on the reason.

Bitcoin not confirming

A high volume of traffic

A high traffic volume on the Bitcoin network may lead to unconfirmed transaction status. This is possible because of the blockchain's speed cap and the mining difficulty in validating transaction blocks. You can view the real-time speed of transactions on any blockchain network explorer.

Low transaction fee

Bitcoin miners, the nodes that validate transactions, typically prioritize transactions with high transaction fees, according to the algorithm. Transactions with low fees may not get priority validation and may delay before execution. How long can a Bitcoin transaction stay unconfirmed? Depending on the traffic volume, it may take a few minutes or more. You can increase the transaction fee or perform another transaction.

Older protocols

Another reason for Bitcoin transaction not confirming is that you may be using an older Bitcoin network or wallet protocol which are slower. The latest protocols adopt and incorporate segwit protocols that allow users to speed up transactions. Segwit-compatible transactions have an attached witness and 0x00 fifth-byte values.

Failed or Incomplete Transactions

Failed and incomplete transactions do not go through for one or more reasons. You should be able to fix failed blockchain unconfirmed transactions with some troubleshooting.

Incorrect transaction details

The system may generate Bitcoin transaction unconfirmed reports if you enter incorrect transaction details, such as wrong wallet addresses or IDs. For example, if you are receiving your Bitcoin hosting services rewards, it is necessary to enter the right wallet address. Sometimes, you may lose your BTC if sent to the wrong address.

Rejected transaction

An unconfirmed blockchain transaction may also be due to miners rejecting the transaction and not validating it due to low transaction fees. Low transaction fees may be unassigned by the mining algorithm, leading to network congestion by accumulating rejected transactions. Network congestion may increase the threshold mining fee, making it more difficult to make transactions at lower fees.

Internet failure

If a Bitcoin transaction still unconfirmed despite other conditions being okay, it might just be due to unstable internet. Internet failure may disconnect your wallet or device from the Bitcoin network, so there's no outbound data. Firewalls may also interfere with your device's connection to the Bitcoin network.

How Long Can a Bitcoin Transaction Stay Unconfirmed?

Is Bitcoin transaction unconfirmed for days? Not necessarily. Unconfirmed Bitcoin transactions typically last a few hours but may take up to 48 hours or even a week for confirmation. Failed transactions are often returned in a shorter time. There's no reason to worry if you experience unconfirmed transactions. You can do either of two things:

Use the Replace-by-Fee (RBF) Protocol

what happens to unconfirmed Bitcoin transactions

The RBF protocol allows you to resend a Bitcoin transaction with a higher fee so that nodes can validate it. RBF improves the chance of successful transactions by increasing the fees, which prompts mining algorithms to prioritize the transaction. Upon resending, the RBF broadcasts the transaction information to the entire Bitcoin network and cancels the previous transaction upon completion. The funds for the canceled transactions are refunded to the wallet. RBF is, however, not auto-enabled and is only compatible with certain wallet protocols. You can activate RBF on your compatible wallet and use it for unconfirmed transactions.

Use a Normal Double-Spend Method

If your wallet does not support RBF, you can use the normal double-spend method, initiating a new transaction with a higher fee from the same wallet or another wallet. The latter is necessary where the wallet does not support double-spend to prevent loss of funds. You can then check how to cancel unconfirmed Bitcoin transaction to receive the previous funds in your wallet. All Blockchain info unconfirmed transaction information is available on the Bitcoin network scan. The double-spend method is usually less safe for canceling unconfirmed Bitcoin transactions, so it is probably best to use the RBF method to keep your funds safe.

What is a Bitcoin Transaction and Confirmation?

A Bitcoin transaction is a coded instruction on the Bitcoin blockchain network to transfer BTC from the sending address to the receiving address. Bitcoin transitions contain important information such as the public key and signature of the sender, the sender and receiving addresses, and the amount of Bitcoin to be transferred. If one or more of this information is inaccurate, you might experience BTC unconfirmed transactions. But if they are correct, the transaction should go through depending on the network status.

All Bitcoin transactions are sent to the network memory pool, awaiting confirmation from mining nodes. Once the algorithm picks a transaction for a node, the node confirms the sender's address and transaction fees and then processes the transfer. Upon confirmation, a timestamped transaction block is added to the blockchain network, but if not, it is rejected. The latter is what happens if a Bitcoin transaction is not confirmed. Confirmed transactions are theoretically impossible to hack and edit.

Why are Confirmations Important?

Why are confirmations important in Bitcoin? What happens if a Bitcoin transaction is not confirmed? A node verifies every successful blockchain transaction, but several nodes must confirm the transaction before it is entered into the blockchain and completed. Thus, several confirmations must take place before your transaction is successful. Because the first confirmation begins the validation process and may be false, other nodes must confirm it to ensure it is genuine. More confirmations increase the authenticity of the first; thus, the transaction is verified and processed.

Many transactions take up to ten confirmations before they are processed. Bitcoin traders typically wait for six or more confirmations to ensure there's no blockchain cancel unconfirmed transaction, which may be delayed or reversed. Confirmations increase security and safety when sending BTC funds. Although confirmations are useful to ensure that no false transactions are involved, they help protect the peer-to-peer value of cryptocurrencies by providing a way for traders to know whether or not transactions are successful.

Bottom line

Bitcoin transaction not confirming

Transaction confirmations are crucial to the development and stability of the Bitcoin blockchain network. The network grows as more transactions are confirmed and more miners earn rewards. Confirmation is also useful to traders as it helps them complete transactions and facilitates trade. But unconfirmed Bitcoin transactions may happen for different reasons, ranging from low gas fees to providing incomplete or wrong details, a high traffic volume, or using older protocols. If you want your Bitcoin transactions to be confirmed fast, you might need to pay a higher transaction fee than others. A blockchain unconfirmed transaction may later go through, but increasing the transaction fee is the easiest way to have miners pick up the transaction quickly. Configurations often take a few days and may last up to a week. You can resend the transaction with a higher fee or cancel the previous one while initiating a new one.

Bitcoin is a great way to invest in cryptocurrencies because the recent network updates have made the network faster and lighter and have lowered transaction fees. You can quickly find the right fees for your type of transaction to hasten the waiting time in the transaction pool.

Yes. Unconfirmed Bitcoin transactions are mostly returned unless, in certain cases, the wrong receivers' addresses lead to a loss of funds. All funds from canceled transactions are returned to the source wallet.
You can typically cancel an unconfirmed transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain and resend it with a higher fee to complete the transaction. Unconfirmed transactions may be canceled with an RBF-compatible wallet.
You can only access the funds from unconfirmed transactions after canceling them. The funds are not accessible for spending so long as the transaction is unconfirmed, as many wallets have a protocol to prevent double-spending.
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