A. Ahmad An open-minded individual that's enthusiastic about Bitcoin, with all of its freedom and purity that it provides.

Bitcoin Block Size Debate, The Bigger The Better?

2 min read

a debate table stand in front of the bitcoin block with different sizes of blocks appearing

Bitcoin adoption is increasing every day as more nations fall into economical hurdles if not collapse, because of governments and financial institutions’ mismanagement, negligence, and/or corruption. Just recently, El Salvador just passed a bill to make Bitcoin legal tender for its people to use.

With such an increase in its adoption, the debate of the Bitcoin’s block size limit is back, at least as a point of discussion for people to learn rather than reconsidering it as an option for the Bitcoin core developers to try and implement.

Bitcoin’s block size limit

Currently, the Bitcoin network produces an average block, with a block size limit of 1 MB that’s filled with transactions, which is created around every ten minutes. This means that a maximum limit of one megabyte of Bitcoin transaction data is confirmed by miners, validated, and stored by node operators within the Bitcoin blockchain.

At times, because of a high increase in the number of transactions within the Bitcoin network, a lot of people’s transactions do not get confirmed within the ten-minute timeframe, resulting in their transactions getting delayed for an unspecified amount of time, at least until there’s less traffic within the Bitcoin network, or if they can afford to they can commit to increasing their transaction fee so that they’d get prioritized more for transaction confirmation.

Because of these issues, that’s how the block size debate came to be, and how people proposed a solution by increasing the block size for Bitcoin.

Should we increase the block size limit for Bitcoin?

The argument for those who see an issue with the Bitcoin block size and their desire to increase it to two or more megabytes is that it would increase the number of transactions that the Bitcoin network can confirm, and a general decrease in the transaction fees.

But those on the side of maintaining the Bitcoin block size to one megabyte know that increasing the block size would decrease the decentralization of Bitcoin, which is one of the main pillars of what makes Bitcoin so valuable.

So on one hand, larger blocks would speed up the general number of Bitcoin transactions per second and decrease fees on transactions, but then Bitcoin would lose a lot of its decentralization. On the other hand, maintaining smaller blocks would keep Bitcoin’s decentralized state, but we’d continue to deal with its current speed of transactions and the number of transaction fees that we’d need to pay for miners.

In the end, back when this debate was at its most heated point, a consensus has been met and the majority of node operators and miners that were on the side of maintaining the maximum block size to what it currently is now have won.

Solutions so far to help with Bitcoin’s scalability

To help decrease the high fees, as well as fit more transactions within each block confirmation in Bitcoin’s blockchain, without increasing the maximum block size, various solutions were introduced and implemented by the Bitcoin core developers.

  • Segregated witness (Segwit), a soft fork that helped decrease fees and fit in more transactions at each new confirmation of a new block.
  • Bitcoin Lightning Network, a second-layer technology that can handle hundreds of thousands, and up to around a million transactions per second.
  • Taproot, an upcoming update to the Bitcoin network that would increase privacy as well as decrease fees on complicated transactions (smart contracts).

These solutions helped with Bitcoin’s scaling as adoption increased over the years, and more solutions are being proposed and developed by the Bitcoin community and core developers as time goes on.

On a side note, those who lost the debate in block size war did not give up, where some of them went ahead and made a hard fork of Bitcoin to create what’s called Bitcoin Cash, one that was created to solve the scaling issue that Bitcoin has by having bigger blocks for its blockchain, which resulted in an increase in transaction speed as well as lower fees, but its adoption is nowhere near what Bitcoin’s is, and the Bitcoin community doesn’t see it as the true Bitcoin.

With all of that said, which side are you on the debate and why? Do you think Satoshi Nakamoto would be on the side of bigger blocks for convenience or smaller ones for security?

A. Ahmad An open-minded individual that's enthusiastic about Bitcoin, with all of its freedom and purity that it provides.