When you do a Bitcoin transaction, it goes through a confirmation process. It is not possible to cancel a Bitcoin transaction if it has been confirmed. However, if the transaction is not confirmed yet, you can still cancel it. We will see the possibilities that under what circumstances a Bitcoin unconfirmed transaction can be canceled and how can it impact us.
What A Bitcoin Transaction Is
The sending of Bitcoin from one wallet to another is called a Bitcoin transaction. A public ledger blockchain records all Bitcoin transactions and their copies are replicated on servers everywhere in the world.
How Does a Bitcoin Transaction Gets Confirmed?
In a Bitcoin network, Miners are responsible to confirm the Bitcoin transactions. When a Bitcoin transaction takes place, it remains unconfirmed for a certain time period depending on the fee and other factors. The miners must confirm this transaction through the mining process and by doing so, they will get a certain portion of Bitcoins in terms of fee.
Reasons For Unconfirmed Bitcoin Transactions
The Bitcoin transaction may remain in an unconfirmed stage due to the following reasons.
If you have done the transaction it will not be confirmed instantly. Even if you spend the recommended fee it may take 10 to 15 minutes to confirm a transaction. If you have spent the recommended fee, you need to wait a bit before the transaction is confirmed on the blockchain and the Bitcoin is received by the sender.
Too Low Fee
This is the most common reason for the Bitcoin transaction to remain unformed for a prolonged period of time. While executing your transactions you always have the option to minimize the fee or put no fee at all to avoid the transaction cost. While you may save some bucks on the fee, there are chances that your transaction is never picked up by the miner and never confirmed if its fee is nil or very low.
How To Check If The Bitcoin Transaction Is Confirmed or Unconfirmed
If you want to cancel a Bitcoin transaction you need to confirm first if it is in the confirmed state of the unconfirmed state. When you do a Bitcoin transaction a unique TX ID is generated. You may copy that TX ID and go to blockchain explorer (https://www.blockchain.com/explorer). Paste the TX ID in the search bar and it will show the transaction status. A Bitcoin transaction with 0 confirmation means that it is unconfirmed and can be canceled.
Cancel An Unconfirmed Bitcoin Transaction
Confirmed transactions with one or more confirmations on the blockchain are permanent and are irreversible. There is no way to cancel them. However, if you have no confirmation for your Bitcoin transaction yet, you may cancel the transaction by following two ways.
1- Replace by Fee (RBF)
Only limited wallets support the RBF protocol which allows you to replace the original transaction with a new one but with a higher transaction fee. In this method, the Bitcoin transaction is broadcast in the network for the second time. Since this time it has a higher fee, it is picked up quickly by the miners, cancels the previous transaction, and creates a new one.
2- Higher Fee Double Spend Transaction
As mentioned before, not all wallets support RBF, so in that case, we may use the method of double-spending with a higher fee. In this method, we create a new transaction that is equal to the amount as in the original transaction and send it to ourselves. The important thing is that in this method you need to put a very high TX fee as compared to the original TX which you paid earlier. The miners will pick this new transaction and you will receive Bitcoin back into your wallet.
These are not 100% granted solutions to confirm or cancel an unconfirmed transaction because some miners have safeguards to prevent double-spending and it may not always work. In any case, we should always use the minimum or the recommended fee so that our transactions are never stuck in the blockchain.