Just several days ago, the average daily number of BTC transactions rose beyond the psychologial theshold of 100,000, but there is still no good reason to rejoice.
Coinometrics is a research website known to compile Bitcoin network statistics and present them in an easy to compare format. To help us better understand where Bitcoin is at the moment, the summary table found on the website also presents data retrieved from Visa, Master Card and PayPal. As we can see, Bitcoin’s new record is 6+ and 2000+ times smaller than the number of Western Union and Visa (the industry leader) transactions correspondingly.
A year ago, in his interview with Washington Post Bitcoin developer Mike Hearn said present-day Bitcoin system was unable to compete with Visa for mainly technical reasons: the size of the block generated every 10 minutes is strictly limited to 1 MB, meaning such block can “accommodate” approximately 4,000 transactions. It makes a maximum of 7 transactions per second compared to Visa’s 2,000 (average) to 47,000 (at peak times).
With a new record of 100,000 BTC transactions per day, the network reaches only 15% of the peak load. There may be nothing to worry about at the moment, but it may be the right time to think about the future. With Bitcoin user base growing bigger every day, it will be more and more difficult to make further modifications to the protocol, because any minor error can lead to severe consequences when you’re dealing with such sensitive subject as currency. It will be also impossible to simply increase the size of the block, as block chain is already growing rapidly for “natural” reasons destroying the very idea of a decentralized digital currency. Still, we have Gavin Andresen and other adherers of the so-called “block chain pruning” telling us there are no reasons to worry.