The Bitcoin mempool is always a topic of debate and controversy. Since the mempool contains transactions waiting for confirmations, it is often used to determine whether or not the network suffers from congestion. Currently, the Bitcoin mempool has been far emptier than it has for the past few months. There are many theories for the mempool’s recent lack of congestion and this article will go over some of them.
What is Going on With the Mempool?
The Bitcoin mempool is often a good gauge of the Bitcoin network’s overall health. A mempool filling up slowly means there is a backlog related to network transactions awaiting confirmations. Usually there are around 30,000 Bitcoin transactions waiting for confirmations. They need to queue since only a certain amount of transactions will fit in one block and new blocks on the Bitcoin network are only generated once every ten minutes.
The number of unconfirmed transactions is less than half of what it normally is (at the time of writing). With under 10,000 pending transfers, some are confused by the recent dip in mempool numbers. However, the statistics indicate there are still 3.51 Bitcoin transactions every second, which is quite a healthy number. This suggests that the number of transactions and users are still within normal levels.
Looking at the Blockchain.info statistics, we see the number of transactions is going down slightly. This trend started in June of 2017 and it seems to be snowballing. The number of transactions excluding long transaction chains is almost cut in half. This seems to indicate there is less “blockchain bloat” going on right now. The Bitcoin network has seen several “spam attacks” over the past year. It seems those nefarious methods have finally come to an end for now.
What is rather interesting is how it appears the number of Ethereum transactions is increasing. One reason may be the influx of popular cryptocurrency ICOs. So it is probably not a sign of people switching from Bitcoin to Ethereum. A lot of people want to invest in cryptocurrency ICOs, which will spike the number of transactions on the network. ICOs have pumped Ethereum the past few months, and this increase in number of transactions is likely the result of ICO investment.
From a speculative point of view, it is not entirely surprising to see the mempool go down in size either. The Bitcoin price has not seen a big breakout since its last bull run. This often affects the number of transactions on the network. This is not really a cause for alarm. Some speculators feel this stagnation is a sign of an imminent price decrease. It is impossible to correlate those two factors. As more people echo these (false?) statements, the market will eventually respond. However, a lower mempool does not automatically result in a lower Bitcoin price.
This chart shows how the mempool was pretty small in April of 2017 as well. The number of transactions started picking up again due to the Bitcoin price going up. At its peak, the mempool contained over 234,000 unconfirmed transactions. Everything needs to be put in perspective when dealing with any investments, Bitcoin included and its mempool. There is absolutely no reason to panic whatsoever.