'Attack on Bitcoin’ Claims Circulate as Transaction Fees Climb Higher

Some point the finger at Ordinals, and a few see nefarious intent.

By André Beganski

4 min read

The Bitcoin quadrant of Crypto Twitter was abuzz with concern on Sunday, as some users saw high transaction fees and a congested backlog of transactions as an attack on Bitcoin.

There are currently over 469,000 transactions waiting to be confirmed in Bitcoin’s mempool as of this writing, according to mempool.space. Before transactions are added to Bitcoin’s blockchain, transactions are sent to the network’s mempool, where they wait to be selected by a Bitcoin miner and inserted into Bitcoin’s next block.

Bitcoin transaction fees were also quite high, with high-priority transactions commanding a rate of 654 sat/vB, or around $26, according to mempool.space.

The two metrics suggested that Bitcoin’s network was especially clogged, but some thought it was the product of nefarious behavior, aimed at cutting off those that couldn’t handle the uptick in transaction fees.

“High transaction fees are the chosen pain point by the attacker, probably to make [...] Bitcoin unusable for smaller players,” claimed @proofofjogi on Twitter on Sunday. “We're in the then-they-fight-you-stage.”

The notion that high transaction fees could be used as an “attack vector” toward Bitcoin was echoed by Bitcoin-maxi Dylan LeClair. But he claimed that driving up costs in the short term has a negligible impact on Bitcoin in the long run.

One user on Twitter named @Toma_7_32 pointed out that clogging up Bitcoin’s mempool mainly benefits miners, “​​who are having a blast” while reaping the rewards associated with higher transaction fees, despite what some are labeling an "'attack' on Bitcoin."

The account claimed that it was only a matter of time before those flooding Bitcoin’s mempool with transactions run out of money, making any impact on the network short-lived.

Still, others attributed the uptick in transaction fees and Bitcoin’s sizable backlog to Ordinals, a protocol used for minting NFT-like assets on Bitcoin. Called inscriptions, the total number of Bitcoin-based digital assets cruised past 4.3 million on Sunday, according to a Dune dashboard. Just last week, inscriptions totaled 2.5 million, based on Decrypt coverage.

The recent increase in inscriptions can be attributed to the growing popularity of BRC-20 tokens, which were originally pioneered as an experiment in March. Some exchanges like UniSat Wallet have created ways for people to trade these tokens built on top of Bitcoin, which bear a resemblance to ERC-20 tokens on Ethereum.

On Sunday alone, UniSat Wallet had done over $9.3 million worth of inscriptions trading volume, as of this writing, according to another Dune dashboard. The figure coincided with roughly 7,500 transactions.

While the chatter surrounding Ordinals and Bitcoin transaction fees grew more intense on Sunday, Bitcoin was largely flat. The coin was down roughly 0.1% at around 28,800, as of this writing, according to CoinGecko.

And though some on Twitter vocalized concerns, others like Kashif Raza pushed back against the notion of Bitcoin being under attack, pointing to the fact that Ordinals is an innovation partly enabled by Bitcoin’s taproot upgrade.

“The developers are using it to explore new possibilities that you can't stop,” he said. “This is what you call a free market.”

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