Why Can’t We Have Faster Bitcoin Blocks?


Welcome, welcome to One Minute Crypto! I’m your host, Chronos, and I today, we’re
going to talk about two reasons why Bitcoin would benefit from more frequent blocks, and
then why those benefits maybe aren’t such a big deal after all, and we’ll finish out
with why that upgrade will probably never happen anyway. Right now the average mining time between
bitcoin blocks is 10 minutes, and that’s hard-coded into the protocol. So what happens if we speed that up a bit? By the way, this episode is proudly sponsored
by KeepKey, a convenient USB hardware wallet for keeping your cryptocurrency offline and
safe. They also have an affiliate program, where
you can earn $10 for every customer you refer. Learn more at KeepKey.com. So the first benefit of speeding up the block
timing is that it’s an effective increase to the maximum block size, which boosts the
total network capacity. Right now, the bitcoin network has a maximum
size of 1MB of transactions per block, ignoring Segwit, so with blocks coming out every 10
minutes, you can think of that as 6MB per hour, on average. If we increased the timing to 1 minute instead,
that would be 60MB per hour, which is a huge capacity upgrade. So why isn’t this a big deal? Well, the block size limit is just a number
that all the miners and nodes agree on. If everybody agreed, we could just change
to a 10MB block size limit, and have the same effect, so there’s really nothing special
about the capacity impact of the block timing. Another benefit of speeding up the block timing
is that users would see their transactions confirm on the chain more quickly. Waiting around for 10 minutes on average for your
first confirmation is not a great user experience, and many alternative coins use faster block
times to improve this. But I don’t think this is a big deal either,
because even 1-minute blocks are much too slow for point-of-sale transactions like you’d
have in a grocery store. If you really want to solve in-person payments
with cryptocurrency, you’ll want something like the Lightning Network, with instant confirmations,
or another security mechanism altogether. You probably can’t just use really fast proof-of-work
blocks to solve this, because newly-mined blocks take time to be seen by the other miners,
which can cause them to get orphaned. The problem is just not that simple. So, what about the downsides of speeding up
the block timing? Well, if we made a modest change, like cutting
the timing to 5 minutes instead of 10, I think the downside would be nearly nothing. There’s a slightly higher risk that two miners
will mine blocks at the same time, causing one of them to be orphaned, but it’s not a
big deal. So why can’t it happen? Well, I think that Bitcoin has simply gotten
too big to be making upgrades like this. It’s simply too difficult to get such a huge
variety of people to agree on such a major change. So that’s what I think, but what about you? Let me know in the comments below the video. I’m Chronos. Thanks for watching!

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