In the last months of last year, commissions for bitcoin transactions have grown significantly, and with them the volume of unconfirmed transactions in the memPule has also grown. For example, during the peak of bitcoin in mid-December 2017, a commission of more than 1,000 satoshi / bytes was required to be included in the next block.
For a standard transaction (without SegWit) at a bitcoin rate of about $ 15,000, the commission was about $ 75 (commission is paid in bitcoins, and the dollar value of the transaction is related to the current rate).
The growing commissions fueled the discussion that the major players in the industry were not quick enough to implement the SegWit protocol update, and several successful implementations of the Lightning Network technology had to bring the fees closer to zero at all.
Nevertheless, the block space in the bitcoin block has very limited possibilities: one way or another the block will not be able to accommodate more than several thousand transactions. This constructive feature is important for encouraging the development of a competitive commissions market, designed to ensure network security in the long term.
In the distant future, when the reward for the creation of the blocks disappears, the incentive for the miners to maintain the network will be only commissions for transactions. Each halvening («halving» once every four years of release of new bitcoins) increases the reward of the miners by commissions, as bitcoin is approaching the limit of its fixed offer of coins.
At the same time today, bitcoin transactions have again become cheap, even if we do not take into account the comparatively low rate of the crypto currency. At the time of publication, the commission was about 34 satoshi / bytes for inclusion in the next block (10 minutes waiting) and 16 satosh / bytes for inclusion in one of the next six blocks (one hour).
The largest stock exchanges continue to implement SegWit, and the network now employs more than 800 nodes of the Lightning Network, which daily increase its throughput.
Commissions are and will be an integral part of bitcoin, but for the most part the transactions of the main crypto currency are still a viable alternative to traditional bank transfers.