Bitcoin Depot ATM

Bitcoin ATM transaction is delayed – what to do?

Lately many bitcoin ATM users complained that they feed cash into machine, but don’t receive bitcoins to scanned address, or they sent bitcoins to a machine, but can’t withdraw cash. This post is supposed to check what are the possible reasons of this and how to prevent it or solve it when it happens.

Prehistory – Bitcoin network congestion and block size limit

Since Bitcoin launch in 2009 the network has been growing steadily with respect to number of transactions. There was a 1 MB limit set on block size by Satoshi Nakamoto to prevent spam/DDOS attacks on the network in the early days and this limit was left there untouched as there was a lot of space before this limit could be reached. Meanwhile, there were many hot discussions about what to do when we reach it. Unfortunately, measures were not taken on time, and today we still have this artificial limit set in the Bitcoin Core client, which is the most widely used by nodes and miners. So we reached the point when we are literally hitting the ceiling of the network capacity.

Bitcoin blocksize
Bitcoin blocks are consistently full, hitting the 1 MB limit (source: https://tradeblock.com/bitcoin)

There are several solutions to this issue. For example, Core development team sees scaling in the form of Segwit (accounting trick of counting only part of transaction size towards block size limit) and later by introduction of Lightning Network payment channels, which will move most transactions off-chain. These solutions will most likely take a while to be implemented and adopted by the network and can’t help with immediate needs. On the other hand, there are alternative Bitcoin client implementations like Classic and Bitcoin Unlimited. Their development teams propose immediate increase of the network capacity by increasing the block size limit or simply removing this limit giving a freedom to take decision about size of the blocks to network participants. This will allow to have immediate effect of solving the problem for a short term, while other solutions are on the way. These changes can’t be applied until a majority of miners (75%) accept them and start using in daily mining process.

Transactions get stuck in mempool

The key take away from the previous section is that there is not enough space for all transactions on the blockchain today as the block size is artificially limited. In order to get your transaction confirmed – fees need to be higher than most of the transactions in the mempool. It is kind of auction sale when users need to outbid each other so that miner picks their transaction and put it in a next block.

It is also important to understand that issue happens only periodically when the network has a high load. Over more silent times when there are fewer transactions – payments still can go through normally. Kind of. In order to check if there are any issues on the network – it is enough to look at mempool size (how many transactions are pending in unconfirmed state). When it is 2-5MB it is a normal state. When it grows to 20-50 MB or more – the network is congested and higher fees are required. Transactions may not get confirmed for a long time when fees are not sufficient.

Bitcoin mempool size bitcoin
Bitcoin mempool size in MB (source: https://tradeblock.com/bitcoin)

As we are on the very edge of capacity there is a potential “boiling point” that we can reach when mempool won’t be able to return to normal size even during “silent” periods. In this case the only optimal scenario that will happen is that users will have awful experience as transactions will get stuck for a long time in unconfirmed state. Additionally much higher fees will be required and it will revert some users to use bitcoin and they either hold their bitcoins and make payments more rarely than they do under normal conditions, or choose alternative cryptocurrencies. Both scenarios will slow down bitcoin adoption growth. This state can last until we have a solution for block size issue ready either via Segwit or via hard-fork implemented through Classic or Bitcoin Unlimited.

I sent bitcoins to an ATM but can’t withdraw cash

Now when a general picture is more or less clear let’s check how this influences users of bitcoin ATMs. When you sell bitcoins via a bitcoin ATM it is highly likely that bitcoin ATM operator has set a predefined number of confirmations required before user can withdraw cash from machine. In order to get included in the block – choose high priority fees during peak network load periods, or normal fees during normal times. That will guarantee that your transaction will be added in the next couple blocks, which is on average less than 20 minutes. Solutions like BitAccess remote bitcoin sell initiation allow you to send bitcoins without visiting machine, but then just come and get cash when it is ready and available.

There are many different wallets on the market, while not many calculate required fees properly. We recommend the following ones:

What to do if your transaction got stuck? Basically, you can’t do a lot, so it is more about sit and wait for average user until it gets confirmed. That is why it is very important to take measures ahead of time, namely: choose proper fees before the payment is done. If you really messed with fees, e.g. manually set them at a very low level, there is no chance your transaction will ever be included, so action needs to be taken. Also if you are an advanced user, there is a way to try to double spend your transaction with a different one, which will send the same amount to bitcoin ATM address, but a smaller output to your change address, which will result in higher miner fees. Here is a process which demonstrates how to double spend a transaction using coinb.in. The process becomes more complicated if your initial transaction was constructed using several inputs from different addresses as in this case you need to sign transaction with several private keys.

Another option which will become possible in the near future (probably 0.13 version) as the rewritten code is merged into Core client – to issue a new child transaction, which will use one of outputs of pending transaction. For example, using change address of your wallet or approach operator. The technique is called “child pays for parent” (CPFP). In short, this technique will allow to create a transaction using unconfirmed input from pending one and add larger than normal fees, so that fees size split across both transactions (pending and new one) is enough to reach normal level and get included in the block. Some miners used this policy, but Core version 0.12 no longer supports previously written CPFP code, adding rewritten functionality to Core client will improve efficiency of this technique in the future. Again creating a special transaction will probably require to go through a manual construction process as there is usually no way to define which UTXO to use for HD wallet. However, in this case using only one address with one private key should be enough.

How to be sure that fees are enough

As we mentioned previously it is important to set proper miner fees for your transaction. This is a nightmare from UX perspective as payers should not be doing this in a normal setup. Some wallets adjust their dynamic fees algorithms and make it simpler for end users, however, this usually results in much higher fees paid than needed. People pay 60 satoshis per byte as a median value, while required amount was about 17 satoshis per byte.

So how a fair fee level can be calculated? First of all it is important to understand that nominal fee size be it in BTC or fiat doesn’t matter. What matters is the fees in satoshis per bytes of transaction. So the bigger transaction is (e.g. several inputs from different addresses, or multisig transaction) the higher fee will be required in nominal value. Also it is important to understand that the required fee size depends on network load. In silent periods 5 sat/byte might be enough to get into any of next 6 blocks. In high load 20 sat/byte fees might be not enough to get confirmation for hours.

To get an idea of what is the current level of fees required the following resources can be useful:

https://btc.com/stats/unconfirmed-txBitcoin fees

This chart is run by Bitmain/Antpool, one of the largest miner pools and is quite accurate on prediction. As seen from the chart the majority of pending transactions in mempool are the ones with fees below 20 sat/byte, in this case a fee of 21 sat/byte should be enough to be included in one of the next few blocks as it will outbid absolute majority of transactions. On the right side the size of pending transactions is seen, and quick calculation shows that there are about 5 MB of pending transactions with fees higher than 20 sat/byte, which equals about 5 blocks in case they mined full. During the waiting time more transactions will be added, so it can take more than 5 blocks in this case, however, it will be confirmed during 6-8 blocks realistically, but in case of luck even earlier (different miners have different inclusion policies).

http://bitcoinfees.21.co/

Bitcoin fees

This is another similar chart provided by 21.co company.

This chart gives a prediction about delay in number of blocks. They predict that fee of 20-30 sat/bytes will result in waiting of 1-13 blocks, which according to practice is a bit higher than reality. On opposite fees of 1-10 sat/byte are estimated to help include transaction in 4-47 block, actually it might take much more than 47 blocks. E.g. if you add fee of 3 sat/byte it will probably just stuck forever.

Important to see here is that both services give similar estimations for inclusion in the next block of 60-70 sat/byte. So this is the size of transaction fees that is required to get included as fast as possible, e.g. when you send bitcoins to ATM and staying there waiting for 1 confirmation. It definitely makes sense to pay extra 9 cents (30 sat/byte for average 400 byte transaction at current market price of $750) than risk staying there and waiting that someone can rob you. However, when you want to send funds from one of your addresses to another one and want to pay as low as possible and get confirmation in reasonable time, you might want to set fees at 10-20 sat/bytes.

Many wallets software just give the option to define low/medium/high fees, which makes it impossible to define particular size you want, others give you possibility to define fees level manually. In both cases when transaction is done – it can easily be checked how big fees were, e.g. checking on blockchain.info:

blockchain.info tranasction

In this case it is 0.0001 BTC fees for 521 bytes, which results in 0.0001*10^8/521 = 19.19 sat/byte, which seems to be a reasonable fee to be included into block during an hour or so.

More resources…

https://bitcoinfees.github.io/misc/profile/

Bitcoin fee wait profile

This chart is pretty similar to previous two ones. Black line on the left shows cumulative distribution of transactions with different fees in mempool currently. It shows absolute majority has 10 sat/byte or less. Red line is estimation in which consequent block from now the transaction with particular fee size will be included. Again it is consistent with what we saw before, 60 sat/byte – high chances for next block, 20 sat/byte ~ 8 blocks required.

https://live.blockcypher.com/btc/

blockcypher fee estimate

There are three estimates provided for different priority of transactions. It is BTC/KB, so in order to convert values to sat/byte one needs to multiply by 10^8 and divide by 1024. For rounding purposes 1024~1000, so it is just about multiplication by 10^5, which quickly converts to 76, 29, 24 sat/byte fees.

http://p2sh.info/dashboard/db/fee-estimation

Fee estimation

Another useful chart, which shows several options depending how quick you want confirmations: 1-2 blocks ~ 60 sat/byte, 5-6 blocks ~ 35 sat/byte. The good thing about this chart is that it collects data from different sources like 21.co, Copay, Blockcypher, Blocktrail, blockchain.info and gives an average of all estimations.

I purchased bitcoins from an ATM, but have not received it

This is another side of the story. First of all here it is important to distinguish two scenarios:

  • There are no bitcoins sent to your address at all
  • Transaction is seen on the network, but stays in unconfirmed state

The former probably indicates there was some issue on the operator’s side. For example, recently the BitGo wallet service suspension led to many Lamassu machines becoming non-working. Well, technically they were working by accepting cash, but never sent bitcoins to customers. So, contact operator and these types of problems should be solved usually without any problems. Bitcoin ATM industry is still relatively young, and there are some bumps on the road, but operators take proper measures and always help customers by sending coins manually after verifications.

In case a transaction is seen but not confirmed, this could be due to the fact that operator used not sufficient miner fees. Normally, most of operators define fees from upper range,  which should be enough to confirm pretty fast. But still if there is such a problem – contact operator of bitcoin machine and they should handle it for you.

***

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71 thoughts on “Bitcoin ATM transaction is delayed – what to do?

  1. I putcash in bitstop for bit coins, and I did pay more because the btc price they had was higher than current rate. So I sent it to my bitconnect wallet. An hour passes and it’s not in the wallet. Then, 2,3 an finally 9 hours later, not in the wallet! I’m freaking out here. This is crazy how long this is taking , could my bitcoins be lost forever in an unconfirmed state?????????????

    1. Hi Kevin

      Bitcoin network is congested recently. Inclusion of transactions is not reliable and might take some time.
      With respect to your transaction – it definitely will appear in your wallet, so no worries here. Bitstop is known and reliable operator. I recommend you contacting them (contacts can be found on the site) in case they can facilitate transaction for you. Feel free to follow up on our email later if you still will have issues.

      1. Hi this is totally ridiculous I have been waiting for 32 hours now and my ethereum coins have not arrived in my wallet I have been sending emails to satoshipoint help desk but haven’t had anyone contact me.

          1. I bought bitcoin yesterday at coincloud atm in raleigh nc. I have yet to receive the amount in my wallet.Can someone help me help please its more than 14 hours now

  2. I’m wondering if the operator is allowed to fully control the ATM like how to know if the operator have no bitcoins or he is holding them to get higher price
    Also which price I’m spouse to get the one that was in the machine when I deposited the money or the one that the operator can chose? Is he allowed to give me my cash back

  3. I made purchase of bitcoins from an ATM on Dec 18th. In my coinbase wallet it says confirmed and pending, is this a normal amount of time to wait?

  4. Freaking out!!! Visited bitstop 3 days ago deposited $70 in cash to send to an address still haven’t received anything…Help

    1. Hello Chris, Bitstop is an operator with long good reputation on the market. So no worries here.
      I would assume your transaction is delayed because of bitcoin network congestion. By now I would assume your problem is resolved. If now — please contact us for assistance.

  5. I bought bitcoin 3 days ago on atm bitxpress and I still haven’t received it. I tried to contact support but they didn’t respond. What should I do?

  6. I bought bitcoin at rockitcoin atm another 48 hours now and i haven’t received my coin yet, i’m freaking out now. Calling them and no answer or response, what should i do.

    1. Hi Richard, Rockitcoin is reliable operator. So there is nothing to worry about, you need to approach them for details. From what I remember your case was already resolved and funds sent to you.

      1. I bought bitcoin from rockitcoin yesterday and up to this very moment I still haven’t received it.. Have I just been scammed by rockitcoin?

        1. Hi Donahue, no you were not scammed by Rockitcoin, as they are relatively old company on bitcoin ATM market with good reputation. If you have any issues, please contact them for assistance.

  7. I bought bitcoin at bitcoin depot atm another 5 hours now and i haven’t received my coin yet, i’m freaking out now. Calling them and no answer or response, what should i do.

    1. This is probably fees operator charged. Sometimes operators set very high fees on low amounts.
      I assume in this particular case there could be also a fixed miner fee was charged by operator, e.g. $5.

      In any case you can contact operator to find out details and where $19 went, which is almost 50% in this case.

  8. Hello; I gave my wife $3,000 to buy bitcoin and she used Paydepot atm at bricks, nj. Even after 8 days of transaction, I still haven’t received bitcoin in my wallet. I am really freaked out here and customer service was contacted from day one but still haven’t gotten it till now… what should I do now?

    1. Nov28 Four days ego I inserted 3000 $ cash at Coinworks bitcoin ATM Winchester Blvd San Jose and the transaction failed. I called a given number left Info#, location, date, amount, my phone #, text, email. No answer for it and I don’t know how can I get a money back or ever will transacted, why happened this. I used a same destination address one day before.

  9. I bought bitcoin worth $1100, and it’s been 2days already, still haven’t gotten my bitcoin, been calling the operators but it keeps going to voicemail. What do I do?

  10. i did purchase bitcoin worth 1200USD it hasn’t been in my account yet they promise a refund and taking 15% off the money , how many days does it take before i could get the check

    1. Hello Steven, usually funds are sent by operator pretty quickly. If the refund is done, operator should not take 15% cut of it. Please contact us in case you need to follow up on this case.

  11. so i purchased 1150 worth of bitcoins 5 days ago. I have googled the crapout of what the problem could be. im guessing its delayed due to low bitcoin price and shortage and/or network congestion. my problem is however i have tried to contact the atm providers to get more information or a solution and its like they don’t exist. I have email and called a bunch of times with no reply. WTF!!! what do i do now?

    1. Usually operators have some anti-fraud prevention measures and in this case they don’t send cryptocurrency immediately. If their support is not responding to your requests, please go via official legal channels, e.g. contact police and report this case.

  12. My uncle bought bitcoin 7 days ago on atm kiosk operated by pelicoin and I still haven’t received it. I tried to contact support but they didn’t respond. What should I do?

  13. Please I bought 100usd BItcoin on GeneralBytes ATM and it says unconfirmed/Pending in wallet, am wondering how many minutes or hours or days it will take to get it.. I can see the transaction in my deposit just bitcoin isn’t there..

    1. It depends on network load. Usually transactions are sent by operator with sufficient fees, so normally it should go in blocks quite quickly, but sometimes you need to wait, usually not more than 1-2 hours.

  14. HELP!!
    I purchased bitcoin worth $2,000aud at a Lamassu bitcoin atm in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia. The machine is operated by BitRocket. After scanning my QR code and inserting the cash bills into the machine, it showed a confirmation message saying that the bitcoin was on the way to the wallet. However, I only received $200aud worth of bitcoin in my wallet. Basically, only 10% of the amount I purchased was deposited into my wallet. It’s been 3 days now and nothing yet. I haven’t received the rest of the bitcoin. I have tried reaching out to BitRocket support via email and phone, all to no avail. Please do you have their contact?

    1. Hi Michael, to get it resolved you need to reach out Bitrocket, although you mentioned you had difficulties with it. Only they can resolve it for you as they are operator in this case. Please feel free to CC our support email in your communication to facilitate the process.

      1. I recently purchased bitcoin at white oak mall Springfield and the transaction failed.couldnt get my cash back and I tried contacting the operator there’s nobody to return my calls or emails .please help and what happened when machine don’t accept wallet ?

  15. I purchased Bitcoin from byte federal Bitcoin ATM, it’s been 19 hours and i haven’t received coin in my wallet , please what should I do , im gonna lose the money?

    1. Hello Joseph, you won’t loose your money. Bitcoin network becomes congested periodically. You need to wait, if you don’t get bitcoins for a long time, please contact ByteFederal operator and they will assist you.

  16. i tried to buy bitcoin from a bitcoin atm and the payment failed but i was debited for the funds. how can i get a refund for my funds?

  17. I purchased $225 worth of bitcoin using a ZzBit ATM machine. However, it’s been almost 24hrs and the bitcoin transfer is still unconfirmed.

  18. Hi i purchased Btc worth of $1308 with a coincloud ATM(bitacess) at 3506 N Broadway about 8:28pm Knoxville TN, i didn’t get any receipt and it said it was done successful,i didn’t get any HTC in my wallet and its not showing in incoming transaction,am really worried and i don’t know what to do pls i need help asap

  19. I made a purchased of litecoins instead of bit coin in an ATM machine with cash but I could not receive any coins yet. What should I do?

  20. i purchased a bitcoin of $2700 from bitcoinofamerica atm but i only got $892 instead…please i’m freaking out

    1. Don’t freak out, instead contact operator for assistance. Looks like some tech issue happened, or machine didn’t have sufficient cash.
      In any case, operator should help you, please contact them.

  21. I made a purchase of 12,400 Tuesday from coincloud and it said my order is under review,how long will it take, I called them, they let me send my I’d card and passport.how long will it take

    1. Probably, the best party to address this question is operator, who does the check (Coincloud in your case). Normally, approval happens within the day, but it depends on their workload.

  22. Hi I’m Robert I purchased bitcoin with an alpha BTC ATM at Omaha by 13:39 and mistakenly instead of redeeming it to my wallet I withdrew it and it’s been taking up to 13 hours and haven’t gotten my money back. I checked the address on the block chain explorer and it says no transaction found for this address it has probably not been used on the network yet

  23. Hello please I purchased a bitcoin worth $250 on friday from BTM BITCOIN ATM I’m yet to receive my bitcoin in my wallet and I have the receipt of the transaction which shows that the bitcoin wallet has no mistake please what do I do I can send you proof if permitted

  24. I bought bitcoins from getcoins atm with cash of 150$ and up to 3hours now. I have not receive any bitcoin in my paxful account. Please kindly help me out. I’m a poor boy trying to make my ways in this world. Please kindly help me out. I have my confirmation receipt with me. Thanks

  25. Please a friend bought from Getcoin ATM double bitcoin into same bitcoin address I requested on blockchain…Only one came into my wallet, but I am yet to receive the second one.

  26. I purchased a bitcoin from a bitcoin atm in Calgary it’s been 6hours now. I still haven’t gotten the bitcoin in my wallet

  27. Bought bitcoin for $550 from coin flip in Mandan North Dakota , it says successful. I got no receipt and it’s been two days no bitcoin. I’m freaking out

  28. I sold 2000$ worth of bitcoin to a general bytes atm, the operater bitcoinsolutions.ca and it was 0 confirmations for 3 hours and the support said once it confirms at least 1x I can withdraw and it will cancel if not confirmed in 8 hours and then they’d refund it and when it confirmed at hour 3 and I tried to withdraw it said payment wasn’t made in time withdraw not possible call 18887113866 they said they would refund it (MINUS the 150$ miner fee!!!) within an hour and that he was waiting for the person who can refund it to arrive and three hours later he said within an hour that I would FOR SURE receive it by end of day and I still haven’t received it, and cannot contact anyone now. I would like my bitcoin back, the price of bitcoin is dropping and I don’t want to lose all my $! Am I even going to rcieve my btc back? I am 8 months pregnant and that was for my rent and a stroller! I go to an atm to AVOID delays and headaches but instead I at this point am completely screwed over!
    What a nightmare.

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