Bitcoin transactions are considered a special funds transfer procedure, both due to their format and their characteristic features. Any such transaction practically means that two Bitcoin e-wallets, i.e. the respective BTC storage devices, are engaging in a process of sending and receiving a given amount of Bitcoins. The sending party of the transaction confirms the amount they wish to transfer to the recipient party. Upon doing so, a number of additional processes understandably take place, with each constituent performing its role in order to end up with a successful transfer of funds.
How Do Bitcoin Transactions Work?
Getting into the mechanism of Bitcoin transactions, it is primarily important that you have some kind of visualization of the process. When sending a certain amount of Bitcoins from one storage location to another, the transaction itself undergoes a verification process. This means that the majority of participants in the network confirm the validity of the funds. Afterward, this transaction is executed and recorded into a block, which is then attached to the last one on a chain of blocks—hence the name of the platform.
This blockchain transaction, a transfer of Bitcoins, in other words, is neatly recorded onto its respective block. Considering that the entire blockchain structure is made up of such blocks carrying information about every transaction ever performed, it is understandable why the platform as a whole is considered to be a digital ledger. What’s more, each of these blocks is connected to each other in the chain-like structure on the principle of chronological ordering for a clear and transparent preview of the trajectory of each Bitcoin currently in existence.
The sole process of sending Bitcoins is practically redefined once we understand that Bitcoins are actually non-existent. They do not function as physical entities, but rather as electronic funds that don’t have any tangible representation. In fact, the only thing by which one can claim that they own some amount of BTC is in fact the records of the transactions made with these Bitcoins, ultimately ending with the person’s e-wallet address as their final destination.
What Are Bitcoin Nodes?
With some idea regarding the actual process of Bitcoin transactions, and the actual digital currency being transferred during them, everyone will inevitably wonder about the people participating in it. The individual person is recognized as the owner or recipient of a specific amount of Bitcoins, yet it takes a lot more to perform the transaction. The participants in such operations are known as Bitcoin nodes—a term used to refer to the computing machines connected to the blockchain.
These nodes are highly powerful computers with massive CPU capacities in order to handle the whole volume of these Bitcoin transactions’ accompanying operations. For one, they are connected to the network by holding the entire blockchain within their own server. Each time a new block is created—i.e. a transaction is made—the whole network of nodes has to be able to update the blockchain by saving the added block.
With the whole of the ledger’s contents present in each node separately, it is much harder, or practically impossible, for hackers and malicious intruders to spend the same BTC more than once. It would not only put changes to the block in question, carrying information about the given transaction, but also to all the previous ones. Considering the massive number of connected nodes, such in-depth changes cannot be applied everywhere and will be immediately detected.
What Is a Bitcoin Hash Function?
Reaching the matter of the different elements of a simple, raw BTC transaction, it is inevitable to address the Bitcoin hash. Every participant in the procedure needs to be aware of its particular definition, and consequently its importance in properly executing the transaction. A hash is obtained as the product of a Bitcoin “hash function”—this is a function that can turn any data or information input into a 64-digit hash. The function of one and the same text or data input will always provide the same hash, thus creating the actual Bitcoin transfer ID.
For instance, if you were to input a paragraph of this text through a hash function multiple times, it would always result in the same hash. However, should you change a single letter or punctuation mark, it would alter the hash significantly. This, in turn, would indicate that someone has been meddling with the text or data input in the function.
Therefore, irregularities such as double spending or simple transfer of a different amount of BTC can be easily noted and prevented. All in all, a Bitcoin transaction confirmation heavily depends on getting the correct hash in relation to previous ones when performing the function.
Elements of a Bitcoin Transaction
A simple transaction of BTC from one party to another, performed on a peer-to-peer level is known to consist of three fundamental elements. As you have probably guessed, these are the sender, the recipient, and the actual Bitcoin funds transferred from one participant’s Bitcoin wallet to the other. In Bitcoin terminology, these are rather known as the input, output, and header. The matter of a Bitcoin wallet address, and its role, is addressed in the paragraphs below.
The header contains four different fields of information, one of which is the actual hash we just explained. The correct hash needs to be part of the header in order to guarantee that the transaction of the Bitcoins is credible. Other than it, the header additionally bears information regarding the version number of the transaction protocol (ver), as well as the number of inputs included in the transaction (vin_sz). The lock-time is also included, marking the earliest time when the BTC transaction block can be included on the chain.
The input, alternatively, contains the previous output hash, i.e. the hash generated from the transaction, through which the current sender obtained their funds. In addition, the input contains the index number of outputs of the previous transaction (n), as well as confirmation that the sender can spend the given amount of funds (scriptSig).
Ultimately, the output is the third key element of the P2P transaction, comprised of two sorts of information. It bears the exact amount of BTC sent (value), and the hashed 64-digit code, i.e. the public key denoting the final destination of the funds—the e-wallet address (scriptPubKey).
What Is a Bitcoin Address?
Sending Bitcoins from one party to another inevitably calls upon the question of their storage. For this matter, Bitcoin owners use separate Bitcoin e-wallets. These are storage solutions specifically designed for the purpose of keeping and transferring Bitcoins, and their public and private keys function as the actual Bitcoin address and the access password, respectively. Both are represented by an alphanumeric string, specific for the particular e-wallet and transaction.
Bitcoins can be obtained in a number of ways other than a direct transaction from another owner. Anyone interested in owning Bitcoin can turn to the online cryptocurrency exchange platforms and get the desired amount by exchanging it for a fiat currency. Alternatively, they can even take part in the online services offering all kinds of remote job opportunities, which pay workers through Bitcoin transactions.
Still, the matter of storing your Bitcoin wealth needs to be adequately resolved. For this purpose, owners can turn to various e-wallets. Some are completely online solutions—they store the BTC on their servers, and thus bear responsibility in case of certain attacks. There are, however, downloadable programs and mobile apps that allow owners to have the e-wallet, and their funds, stored on their own device. Finally, some hardware solutions are also available—owners can use a storage hard drive to hold their BTC, or a paper wallet option—writing down the Bitcoin e-wallet private key and storing it at a safe land-based location such as a safety deposit box.
What Is a Bitcoin Transaction Tracker?
From the evidence provided so far regarding the nature of Bitcoin and its blockchain platform, there is a firm belief in the speed and anonymity of all transactions. While both features have contributed to the cryptocurrency’s massive popularity, it was inevitably the latter which prompted users across all platforms to turn to this payment method. Nevertheless, there are dedicated services that are particularly oriented to discovering the owners of Bitcoin wallets.
These services check Bitcoin transaction information available on the blockchain—the address of the sender and the recipient, as well as the precise amount of BTC transferred. Additionally, they compare such information with real-life occurrences. These include the owner’s transfer or exchange of funds from their personal wallet to their exchange platform wallet and vice versa. Plus, many of them are particularly geared toward uncovering illicit trades made on the dark web, meaning they compare the available information specifically against such purchases.
The Role of Bitcoin Mining
Now that we’ve reached a more elaborate answer to the question of how do Bitcoin transactions work in reality, it is useful to gain some insight into the matter of Bitcoin mining. Since the cryptocurrency does not exist in the physical world, there is no point in imagining any excavation procedures. On the contrary, it is one of the most elaborate and demanding processes during a Bitcoin transaction.
Bitcoin miners are a specific portion of the pool of nodes in the blockchain network who take upon themselves the task of confirming the transaction. The effort they put towards the Bitcoin verification process is adequately rewarded with a particular amount of Bitcoin, which are created during the mining process—meaning the process is essential to the currency supply process. Bear in mind that the Bitcoin cryptocurrency has a limit of 21 million BTC, categorizing it among inflationary currencies.
Over the years, with the expansion of the Bitcoin user community, the mining difficulty has increased drastically. Nowadays, Bitcoin miners operate through mining pools—a group of nodes working on the process—or mining farms, entire establishments equipped with high-powered computing machinery. Electricity consumption for this process has also risen, making it an unsustainable source of BTC for any average individual miner.
Potential of BTC Transactions
Nowadays, interested parties can readily access any knowledge-base on the matter of how Bitcoin works, the equipment necessary for the purpose, and its advantages and disadvantages. Such availability of information has made it far easier for everyone to perceive and understand the wide potential of Bitcoin transactions.
A growing number of financial management institutions use it for payment processing, due to its fast transactions and the low fees attached to such transfers. Thus, individuals and corporations alike are able to send and receive massive amounts while incurring only minute fees for the service. Even some of the best online casinos use Bitcoin as their primary source of payment.
On a different note, some developers have identified the great potential of the underlying technology, the blockchain supporting Bitcoin transactions. An example of this is Ethereum’s creation, a smart contracts platform built on the blockchain principle, which has the ability to allow users to perform various tasks upon completion of specified conditions.
How Long Does a Bitcoin Transaction Take?
On a final note, it is evident that the Bitcoin transaction process is fast and efficient, which raises the issue of its actual duration. This is a variable factor, however, as the time required to process a single transaction has drastically increased since the early days of the cryptocurrency. An average time frame of about 10 minutes is estimated as the time it takes to transfer BTC from one e-wallet to another.
Alas, even today, the Bitcoin confirmation time can vary depending on the number of miners involved in supporting and verifying the transaction. Either way, it is still regarded as one of the fastest ways to transfer funds, especially when it comes to amounts in the millions.
To wrap things up, there is more than enough evidence to support the claim of Bitcoin being a new generation payment platform. Despite certain obstacles that are bound to arise from such a wide and drastic expansion, it is fundamentally described as an extremely fast, secure, and fully independent, decentralized currency and platform. Hence, the advantages of Bitcoin transactions are far more likely to outnumber the possible setbacks.