Canceling Unconfirmed Bitcoin Transaction

Update - 2018.04.23

According to the web site blockchain.com, you cannot cancel or reverse your Bitcoin transaction. Even more experienced users can remember when they failed to double check their transaction details and they accidentally sent Bitcoin to the wrong recipient, or sent the wrong amount. As unfortunate as it is, transactions on the Bitcoin network are designed to be irreversible and nobody has control over them.

Knowing this, it’s extremely important to make sure your transaction details are correct before you click send.

You can’t actually cancel a transaction, but there are methods on how to “replace” your transaction.

There are different reasons why someone would want to cancel their Bitcoin transaction, the Bitcoin network is seriously clogged now and if you have set a low fee it can be stuck in limbo for up to 1 week or you entered a wrong amount or wrong address.

cancel bitcoin transaction

What Does “Unconfirmed Transaction” Mean? Well according to Bitcoin.com „an unconfirmed transaction is a transaction in the network that the miners have yet to confirm. Typically, confirmations take roughly 10 minutes. However due to the increased popularity of the Bitcoin network confirmation times have increased quite a bit and can sometimes take op to an hour or more. There are solutions in the works to deal with this issue, as well as a lot of discussion within the Bitcoin community around the best way to go about it. If a transaction fails to confirm after 72 hours, the funds will be sent back to the original sender’s wallet. “

How to Cancel Your Bitcoin Transaction?

There are two different ways on how to „cancel“ or replace your Bitcoin transaction:

–       RBF or Replace By Fee Transaction

–       Double Spending by Setting a Higher Fee

We will look into these methods more carefully.

Replace by Fee

Replace-by-Fee

Replace-by-Fee (RBF) allows transactions to be flagged as replaceable until they are confirmed in a block. Transaction replacement was introduced by Satoshi in the first release of the Bitcoin software, but later removed due to denial-of-service problems.

Recently Bitcoin Core has merged Opt-in RBF, which will be part of the 0.12 release scheduled to be released in the upcoming months. What is it? It’s a way to make RBF opt in, that is, transactions will have to be flagged in order for RBF updates to work (using an unused field in transactions called nSequence). This way, recipients can instantly detect the transaction is updatable (just like they can currently detect a fee being too low for a timely confirmation).

In order to use this method you will need a Bitcoin wallet that supports the RBF feature, such as Electrum and GreenAddress at the moment. The above two software wallets only support that replaced payment has the same inputs and outputs as old one. It is believed that there will be more and more wallet software which will integrate this option in the future.

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Electrum

Go to official web site https://electrum.org/ and download Bitcoin Wallet. After installation, RBF feature should be enabled from the menu manually: Tools – Preferences, check the three boxes at the pop-up window for Use dynamic fees, Edit fees manually, Enable Replace-By-Fee. The first two options are recommended. The third one is required to enable RBF feature.

When you are sending transaction you need to check the box named Replaceable as you can see on the picture below.

Replaceable

This payment is shown as Replaceable at the history tab before being accepted in the network. The 0.103BTC payment is stuck for a few hours and still hasn’t been accepted by miners. If you want your transaction to be confirmed faster, you can send a new payment with higher fees. Just right-click the payment in question and choose increase the fee, a small window is popped up as the third picture shows.

Replaceable history tab

Bump Fee

GreenAddress

GreenAddress Bitcoin wallet has enabled RBF feature in default. Every outgoing payment has a RBF flag automatically otherwise you disable it manually in the setting.

GreenAddress

In order to initiate new payment with higher fees you can click on the bump fee. You will see a window showing you the required number of confirmations with amount of fees. You choose the number of confirmation time like to say 1 confirmation and will pay 0.00730545BTC miner fees for the new payment which will presumably be accepted in the next 10 minutes by miners.

the bump fee

Double Spending by Setting a Higher Fee

If your favorite Bitcoin wallet does not support RBF, you can cancel your transaction by double spending by setting a higher fee. Before you start applying this method, you will have to check if your transaction has any confirmations. If your transactions have even a single confirmation, you will not be able to cancel your Bitcoin transaction. It is due to the fact that confirmed transactions on the public ledger or blockchain are unchangeable and irreversible. You will have to wait until your transaction is completed.

If that is not the case and your transaction has 0 confirmations, you might be able to double spend it.

Before you start to double spend your coins, make sure that the new transactions have the same amount as the original and that it has significantly higher fee compared to previous fee. After you double check everything, send it to yourself.

Due to the increased fee, there is a higher possibility that the miners will start mining the transaction with significantly higher fee. After you get the requested confirmations for your new transaction, your Bitcoin will be safe in your wallet and the original transaction will be rejected as many nodes will reject double spending transactions.

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Conclusion

Transactions on the Bitcoin network are designed to be irreversible and nobody has control over them, so be very careful and double check before sending transaction.

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When you send a transaction with too low fees, it stays in the unconfirmed pool of most full nodes until it either expires or until a miner picks it up and confirms in a block.

 

 

 

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CaptainAltcoin's writers and guest post authors may or may not have a vested interest in any of the mentioned projects and businesses. None of the content on CaptainAltcoin is investment advice nor is it a replacement for advice from a certified financial planner.

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