Experienced cryptocurrency traders and those who use cryptos like Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), and other altcoins on a daily basis are used to transferring assets all the time. Whether it’s transfers from an exchange platform to a crypto wallet or from wallets to third-party businesses and clients, crypto transactions are standard routine for crypto enthusiasts.

The transfer time is quite different depending on the cryptos and can take anywhere between a couple of seconds to even a couple of hours – it all depends on various factors. A standard BTC transfer confirmation time is about 10 minutes, but it isn’t rare that a transaction takes much longer.

A delayed transfer is always stressful for both the sender and the receiver, especially if it’s an urgent Bitcoin payment that needs to get processed fast. Also, when a cryptocurrency’s price is volatile, it can be a matter of making a profit and losing money if a transaction takes too long. These are some of the possible reasons why your Bitcoin transfer is taking longer than usual.

Loading screen of Bitbuy App

Reasons for BTC Transaction Delay

Essentially there are five most frequent reasons for unconfirmed transactions, i.e. transactions that get confirmed late. Each of them is rather simple and you shouldn’t worry about losing the assets you sent.

Transaction Fee

One of the most popular reasons why a particular Bitcoin transfer takes considerably longer than average is if you’ve set a low transaction fee. 

Bitcoin transfers need to get processed and confirmed by miners on the Bitcoin network. Miners usually go for the transfers with higher miner fees because processing such transfers will give them a higher amount of satoshis as a reward. This is why people who need to get their BTC transferred fast pay an appropriate fee which is always higher, to make sure the funds will go through the blockchain as fast as possible.

Transactions with minimal or just low fees may seem unattractive for miners and they could take much longer than the average 10 minutes to get processed. Selecting a low fee is a typical beginner mistake in crypto trading. With time, you learn that you should select a moderate fee if you want to finish the transfer in no time, without worrying why it’s taking so long for the funds to arrive.

To be on the safe side, it’s best to check the optimal fee on Bitcoinfees. If you already sent funds from your Bitcoin wallet with a low fee, you can resend it using a RBF (Return-by-Fee) protocol if your wallet supports this option. In case it doesn’t and the transfer isn’t going through, it’s better to double spend the funds by canceling the transfer and resending it at a higher fee.

Network Busyness

When it comes to the most popular cryptocurrencies like BTC or ETH, it isn’t uncommon that extremely high trading volumes lead to network congestion that causes delays in traffic. This can lead to an increased number of unconfirmed Bitcoin transactions. Transactions can then take longer than usual to get processed and this can also push transfer fees up because miners then pick the transfers with the highest fees to verify first. You may be looking at a longer transfer time when the blockchain is under heavy traffic even though you selected a moderate or high fee. The only solution to network busyness is to wait it out.

Block Verification

Sometimes the 1MB block  of the Bitcoin blockchain has far more transactions than usual. The standard 1 MB block size doesn’t mean that the new block consists of just one transfer. On the contrary – it can include many transactions and each of these transactions needs to be verified by several BTC miners. When a lot of transactions occupy the block, the time it requires to verify and process the next block increases and your transfer can take more time than usual.

Network Spamming and Dust Attacks

Your transaction may take longer than usual because the Bitcoin blockchain is under a spam attack or a dusting attack by malicious individuals and hackers. A spam attack is when a malicious party that wants to block the network sends a huge amount of low transactions with minimum fees to block the network and slow down data transfer. Spam transfers are a popular way of jamming up a cryptocurrency blockchain and competing crypto project developers do this sometimes.

On the other hand, there are dust attacks that are hacker attempts to destabilize blockchains by sending enormous amounts of transactions that are worth nearly nothing, to thousands or even hundreds of thousands of crypto public addresses. The true aim of these attacks isn’t to actually jam the network, but to possibly get some additional information from crypto users that could later be used in so-called phishing attacks.

Mempool Queue

When you send bitcoins through the blockchain they don’t go directly to the transfer destination. The transaction has to be verified and in order for that to happen miners need to do their part and do a certain number of confirmations. Your funds first go to a Bitcoin mempool where they literally wait in line for their turn to be processed. Only after the transfer is processed by miners will it be registered on the BTC blockchain. If there is a large number of transactions at the same time, your funds might get stuck in a mempool queue, just waiting their turn to get processed sooner or later. If your BTC is in a pending transaction waiting in line, then you just have to give it some time.

A Few Words Before You Go…

These are the most common reasons for a BTC transfer delay. This can be extremely annoying and stressful if you want to process your funds fast, but essentially you can’t do anything but wait in all cases except if the transfer fee is too low. In that case, you can cancel the transaction and send a new transaction with a higher fee.