RBF versus CPFP

One subject which I wanted to give a counterpoint-opinion about, is the fact that transaction fees are rather high right now, on Bitcoin. When I recently transferred a Bitcoin-amount from one of my wallets to another wallet I hold myself, the transaction fee was ‘only’ 0.33 millibit. Because the fees were floating near 2 millibits /kB, this also suggests that this one transaction only took about 165 Bytes of one mined block to confirm. It’s written that more-typical transactions actually require 500 Bytes, which means that those would also cost ~1 millibit. A possible way to exaggerate this could be, to write that that one transaction only cost me

0.00033 Bitcoins

of my own money. But the problem with this representation of the fee is, that it also corresponded to roughly CAD 1.- of our country’s real money. This is close to what the transactions directly from an ATM cost, and so we would not be willing to pay for a cup of coffee under these terms.

There exist some people who have funds stranded in some accounts, either because their fees were not high enough, or because they may have just forgotten that fees are necessary, to see transactions through.

There is a URL which covers two possible ways in which such funds can be recovered:

https://bitcoin.stackexchange.com/questions/49723/replace-by-fee-vs-child-pays-for-parent

The two suggested methods are also abbreviated ‘RBF’ and ‘CPFP’. I feel that there is a detail which the above thread fails to point out:

The only Bitcoin nodes which I am presently aware of, that offer RBF, are the Bitcoin Core nodes. And the only mining pool which I am presently aware of, that openly offers CPFP, is named “Eliguis”.

Neither of these resources will offer wallet-holders the means to bypass the need to pay fees. And one of them – Eligius – was not accepting direct connections from a wallet, the last time I checked. Therefore the only way I know of, actually to invoke CPFP, is to use whatever facility our wallet-programs have to create a transaction and sign it – but not broadcast that transaction – and then to save that transaction to a file, and finally to copy and paste the transaction into the box provided by this URL:

http://eligius.st/~wizkid057/newstats/pushtxn.php

And then, Hope Eligius accepts and mines the transaction. In order for this mining pool to do so, the Transaction Fee which the transaction-being-pushed offers, must be high enough to cover all the transactions people are requesting to have recovered, including possibly the Transaction Fee itself, as one additional transaction.

So as it stands, Bitcoin is far from being a perfect world, and one development which I hope for, would be slightly lower Transaction Fees in the near future. One development which I cannot hope for, is shorter confirmation times. And this is because across the Bitcoin network, the total number of blocks being mined is 1 / 10 minutes, and then the question remains a toss-up, whether whichever mining pool we have chosen, will be the next mining pool to solve their hash, and thus to write our transaction into the block-chain. Confirmation times of 10 minutes remain unrealistic to hope for, even if the block-size is increased.

I do recall, that at some early time in the advent of Bitcoin, a vending machine was set up someplace, which accepted Bitcoin. The problem I see in using this as a practical point of reference, would be:

  • That vending machine might only have been set up, to prove it could be done,
  • That vending machine may have been programmed to consider a received output that is Pending, already to be sufficient, to dispense its item. The assumption could have been made at that time, that the eventual Confirmation of the output was almost guaranteed, so that the product could be dispensed.

One problem with this assumption would be, that today, there exists a much larger swarm of con-artists, who might be trying to scam the system, and due to which, that Confirmation may not be guaranteed, although that scenario may be more-appropriate, if higher amounts of money are involved, than the Bitcoin-payment of a cup of coffee.

The payment for a cup of coffee via Bitcoin is ultimately impeded, by the Transaction Fee. Such a vending machine could hypothetically be programmed to add the current transaction fees to its displayed price, and then to use ‘CPFP’ from its end. If the customer used his Bitcoin wallet with honest settings that include Transaction Fees, the vending-machine company would get a double-dipping, and I don’t know whether this sort of ‘tip’ to the company would ever become fashionable.

Dirk

 

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