Within the past week, the percentage of Segregated Witness (SegWit)-enabled transactions in the Bitcoin network has increased from 9 percent to 14.45 percent, decreasing Bitcoin transaction fees, the size of the Bitcoin mempool, and blocks.
— Joseph Young (@iamjosephyoung) October 16, 2017
In June, prior to the integration of SegWit, the Bitcoin Core development team’s scaling and transaction malleability solution, the size of the Bitcoin mempool remained at over 150 million bytes. Such high level of blockchain congestion and large amount of unconfirmed transactions led to a significant increase in transaction fees.
Since then, as Bitcoin wallet platforms, exchanges, and users continued to adopt SegWit, the size of the Bitcoin mempool dropped from 150 million to 6 million bytes. The average Bitcoin block size also decreased from 1MB to 0.84.
SegWit is a scaling solution that provides more capacity to the Bitcoin network and blockchain by reducing the size of Bitcoin transactions. Unlike a hard Bitcoin block size cap, SegWit scales the Bitcoin blockchain network through user and business adoption. As the transaction percentage of SegWit-enabled payments increase beyond 50 percent, SegWit will allow the average Bitcoin block size to decrease even further, creating a more flexible and scalable Bitcoin ecosystem.
In the past few days, leading Bitcoin wallet platforms such as Blockchain have been recommending an average fee of $0.06 for median transactions, ot 10 satoshis per byte. In June, Blockchain recommended users to attach 400 satoshis per byte fees. Through that metric alone, it is evident that SegWit has had a significant impact on Bitcoin’s short and mid-term scalability.
In the long-term, SegWit will not be sufficient to completely scale the Bitcoin network. Hence, Bitcoin developers and the open-source development community are exploring innovative solutions, both on-chain and second-layer infrastructures, to provide an efficient network for transaction settlement. Ethereum is also taking a similar approach, developing solutions like Plasma that technically function like SegWit; removing unnecessary information and providing more privacy.
The recent surge in the adoption rate of SegWit can be attributed to the integration of SegWit by ShapeShift, one of the most widely utilized cryptocurrency exchanges that accounts for around 3 percent of Bitcoin transactions. As more platforms such as Blockchain and Coinbase integrate SegWit, the size of Bitcoin transactions will decline and eventually, lead to less fees for users to handle.
In August, leading Bitcoin hardware wallet manufacturer Ledger revealed that SegWit will result in around 35 percent reduction in fees for Bitcoin users, due to its mechanism that enables service providers like Ledger to reduce the transaction signature verification period.
“Segwit introduces the concept of block weight which changes the way the transaction size is computed by splitting the signatures in a different area — you can typically save 35% of the fee paid when sending a transaction immediately. When computing a Segwit signature, the previous transactions do not need to be processed by the device, and each input is only processed once during the signature process, leading up to a 60% time optimization in the signature process.”
It is entirely possible that SegWit could reduce Bitcoin fees above the 35 percent mark, if the adoption rate surpasses 50 percent.
Image Credit: Jonathan Pincas, For commercial use