Biggest Crypto Transaction Fee Oddities: Blockchain Mysteries

By Richardson Chinonyerem
16 Min Read

Have you ever wondered how the blockchain works? How it enables transactions of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, or Dogecoin. And why some of these transactions cost so much, while others are almost free. In this article, we will explore the enigma of blockchain and the oddities of crypto transaction fees. We will look at some of the biggest and most bizarre cases of crypto transaction fees in history, and try to understand what causes them, and what they mean for the future of blockchain technology. We will also answer some of the common questions that readers may have about this subject.

The blockchain mysteries and the biggest crypto transaction fee oddities are the secrets and anomalies of the fees that users pay to the network for processing and confirming their transactions of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple. These fees can vary widely across different cryptocurrencies and sometimes reach astronomical or negligible levels, for reasons that are not always clear or logical.

The Enigma of Crypto Transaction Fees in Blockchain? 

It is impractical to attempt to explain the subject of crypto transaction fee oddities headlong, without laying a basic foundation for it. Hence, understanding the connection of how Blockchains work is vital.

Blockchain technology is the backbone of cryptocurrencies, which are digital currencies that use cryptography to ensure their validity and security. Cryptocurrencies are different from traditional currencies because they are not controlled by any central authority, such as a government or a bank. Instead, they are governed by the rules of the network and the consensus of the participants (called smart contracts).

Crypto transaction fees are the amounts of money that users pay to send or receive digital assets on a blockchain network. These fees are not fixed but depend on various factors, which may include, but are not limited to:

The Supply And Demand Of The Network

When more users are trying to send or receive crypto than there are available slots or confirmations, the fees increase. 

The Type And Size Of The Transaction 

Different cryptocurrencies have different ways of encoding data in their transactions, such as Bitcoin‘s SegWit or Ethereum’s ERC-20. What happens is that Some transactions may require more data than others, which increases their size and complexity. These changes most times impact the transaction fee a user gets to pay to get their payment processed on the network.

The Speed And Efficiency Of The Network 

This is a crucial factor when it comes to Blockchain transaction fees. When making payments, Some blockchains have faster confirmation times than others, which means they can process more transactions per second. This also affects how much users have to pay for their transactions to be processed.

The Security And Consensus Mechanism Of The Network 

Some blockchains use proof-of-work (PoW) to validate transactions, which requires miners to solve complex mathematical problems. This consumes a lot of energy and resources, which invariably increases the fees for users who want to use PoW-based networks.

For a detailed understanding of the consensus mechanism of proof-of-work, and how it differs from proof-of-stake read this informative guide.

A couple of other factors or reasons are or may be responsible for oddities in blockchain transaction fees. We’ll still come across a few in this article.

How Do Crypto Transaction Fees Work?

Crypto transaction fees work by creating an incentive for users to pay more when they want their transactions to be confirmed faster or when they want to support a certain network or protocol. In practical terms, look at these three instances:

  1. One, If you want your Bitcoin transaction to be confirmed within 10 minutes instead of 30 minutes, you have to pay a higher fee than usual.
  2. Secondly, say for example, you want your Ethereum transaction to be processed by a smart contract instead of a miner, you have to pay a higher fee than usual.
  3. Thirdly, and the last, if you want your Dogecoin transaction, for example, to be included in a block that is mined by Elon Musk’s favorite cryptocurrency (yes, he has one), you have to pay a fee higher fee than what’s normal.

Crypto transaction fees are usually paid in the same cryptocurrency that is being sent or received. If for instance,  example, if you want to send Bitcoin from your wallet A to wallet B, you have to pay a Bitcoin fee in Bitcoin. It’s as simple as that. 

But how then do these Oddities in crypto transaction fees occur?

Crypto transactions in the Ethereum network can be modified or canceled at certain points during the process. To learn how to do that, we highly recommend you read this article: A Comprehensive Guide To Modify or Cancel A Pending Ethereum Transaction

The Oddities of CryptoTransaction Fees

As we have seen, the transaction fee is a crucial and complex component of the blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem. Albeit, sometimes, the transaction fee can also become a source of a couple of mystery and controversy, as some transactions end up paying extremely high or low fees, for reasons that often do not make sense, as earlier pointed out.

Why Do Crypto Transaction Fees Vary?

But why do these fees vary from transaction to transaction? Crypto transaction fees vary because they reflect the supply and demand dynamics of different blockchains. As we mentioned earlier when more users are trying to send or receive crypto than there are available slots or confirmations on a network, the fees increase.

This can happen for various reasons, besides the factors outlined in the earlier section of this piece, such as:

  • A sudden surge in popularity or adoption of a new cryptocurrency or feature.
  • A major upgrade or change in the protocol or software of an existing cryptocurrency.
  • A technical issue or bug that affects the performance or security of a blockchain network.
  • A malicious attack or scam that exploits vulnerabilities or loopholes in a blockchain system.

These various reasons above can be can be categorized into two types: internal and external. 

Internal factors are those that are related to the network and the protocol of the cryptocurrency, such as the block size,  the gas limit, the ledger close time, the consensus mechanism, the transaction cost, the gas price, and the load fee. 

External factors are those that are related to the market and the environment of the cryptocurrency, such as the supply and demand, the price and volatility, the network congestion and activity, the user behavior and preference, and the miner strategy and competition.

The internal factors determine the minimum and maximum amount of fee that the sender of a transaction can pay to the network and the speed and priority of the transaction confirmation. 

The external factors, on the other hand, determine the optimal and actual amount of fee that the sender of a transaction should pay to the network and the trade-off and opportunity cost of the transaction confirmation.

The internal and external factors both interact and influence each other and create a dynamic and complex system that determines the crypto transaction fees. 

In essence, the block size and the gas limit affect the supply and demand of the network and the price and volatility of the market. 

The ledger close time and the consensus mechanism affect the network congestion and activity, and the user behavior and preferences. While the transaction cost and the gas price affect the miner strategy and competition, and the network security and stability.

These are important points to keep at your fingertips as an investor or perhaps a crypto trader or newbie in the industry.

Read this insightful article to understand blockchain network congestion, how it influences transactions, and how to solve it.

Real-world Stories of Past Crypto Transaction Oddities 

Let’s look at 4 examples of painful events that caused significant changes in crypto transaction fees. These crypto transaction fee oddities are:

  1. In February 2019, according to a well-known crypto news blog, Cointelegraph, one industry participant mistakenly paid a grand sum of 2,730 ETH (currently valued at $365,800) for fees as part of three Ethereum-based transactions. The sender paid fees of 2,100 ETH (the highest mining fee among the three) while sending just 0.01 ETH (about $4) worth of ether (the native currency) to his intended recipient. Fortunately, he received an act of goodwill from SparkPool, one of his mining pools, who shared half of 2,100 ETH (1,050 ETH) with him.
  1. In June 2020, three Ethereum-based transactions surfaced, costing more than $5 million worth combined. Someone sent 0.55 ETH (about $134 at that time) back then in one transaction on June 10th, spending $2.6 million worth worth ETH on gas (the term for funds paid for transactions on Ethereum’s network). 

Following these multi-million-dollar fee events, two more astronomical transactions surfaced. One saw another $2.6 million paid to send 350 ETH (about $86,000  at that time). The other transferred 3,221 ETH (about $3 million at that time), totaling close to 2,310 ETH, the initial gas fee.

  1. In May 2021, the Bitcoin network experienced a significant drop in its hash rate, which is the measure of the computing power that secures the network. Some prominent sources speculated that this was caused by a power outage in China, while other sources reported it was primarily due to a crackdown on Bitcoin mining in China,  where most of the Bitcoin miners are located. As a result, the Bitcoin transaction fees declined to an average of $7 per day, the lowest level since February 2018, ever recorded. Many users had to wait for hours or days to get their transactions confirmed or pay exorbitant fees to speed up the process.
  1. In August 2021, Ethereum launched a major upgrade called London, which introduced a new mechanism for calculating and burning transaction fees (Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 1559). This was meant to make the fees more predictable and reduce the inflation of the ether supply. 

However, the upgrade was generally believed to have caused some confusion and controversy among users and developers, as some transactions were overpriced or underpriced, and some smart contracts malfunctioned or became unusable. 

A few more crypto transaction fee oddities have occurred since then, some very negligible, while some others, for fear of public distrust in their network or Blockchain technology have kept them low profile and out of public notice.

Protecting your crypto during transactions is key to staying safe on this volatile industry. Read this article to learn how to secure your hard-earned cryptocurrencies from theft: Securing Your Crypto: A Comprehensive Guide to Air-Gapped Wallets

What Are Some Implications of Crypto Transaction Fees?

Crypto transaction fees have important implications for the users, the network, and the value of cryptocurrencies. Some of the effects include, but are not limited to the following:

Crypto transaction fees affect the usability and accessibility of cryptocurrencies.

When the fees are too high, users may be discouraged from using crypto for everyday transactions, such as buying coffee or sending money to friends. This may limit the adoption and innovation of crypto as a form of digital money.

These fees affect the security and decentralization of blockchain networks. 

If or when crypto transaction fees are too low, users may be tempted to spam the network with unnecessary or malicious transactions, which may overload the system and make it vulnerable to attacks. This may compromise the integrity and reliability of crypto as a form of digital trust.

Crypto transaction fees affect the scarcity and value of cryptocurrencies. 

Although this may not always be the case, the fact remains valid that when the fees are burned or redistributed, they reduce the supply or increase the demand of the native currency of the network. This invariably may create deflationary or inflationary pressure on the price of crypto as a form of digital asset.

Conclusion: Demystifying the CryptoTransaction Fee Phenomenon

In this article, we have explored the enigma of blockchain and the oddities of crypto transaction fees. We have looked at some of the biggest and most bizarre cases of crypto transaction fees in history and tried to understand what causes them. We have also decoded the crypto transaction fee conundrum and understood the dynamics and implications of the crypto transaction fees. This article further addresses some of the common questions that readers may have about the crypto transaction fees and provided some tips and strategies to minimize them, below.

We hope that this article has helped you to demystify the crypto transaction fee phenomenon and to gain a better understanding and appreciation of the blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem. We equally hope that this article has inspired you to learn more and explore further the fascinating and ever-evolving world of crypto transaction fees.

Richardson Chinonyerem is a web3 content writer who knows how to make complex concepts easy to understand. He has been fascinated by the crypto industry ever since he overcame his initial confusion and learned the meaning behind the jargons and terminologies. Now, he shares his knowledge and insights with his readers in a clear and engaging way. He believes that web3 is the future of the internet, and he wants to help everyone get on board with it. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, you will find something valuable and interesting in his articles and blog posts. When he's not researching or writing, he's cooking or baking for family or friends, or perhaps reading a nonfiction book, or sometimes, he's out playing badminton or volleyball, his fav sports. Follow him to learn more about everything web3 and crypto in a de-technicalized way.