Being aware of how long a crypto exchange takes is very helpful: thus you can know what to expect and worry less about your crypto swaps. Understanding a transaction’s pathway lets you know why exchanges are delayed, and you get more tools to set an exchange the way that it will be processed faster.
What does the transaction time depend on?
Any crypto swap made through non-custodial platforms like ChangeNOW includes 3 steps: a customer sends their funds to the exchange service (transaction 1); the platform performs the necessary operations; swapped coins are sent to the user (transaction 2). The speed of the exchange depends on how fast the included transactions are.
A transaction speed is defined by the block time of a given coin — the time needed to organize new transactions into blocks, validate them, and add to the blockchain (at this moment, the transaction is considered done). Bitcoin’s block time is around 10 minutes, Ethereum’s and all Ethereum-based coins’ is 15 seconds, Cardano’s is 20 seconds, and Solana’s is 400 milliseconds.
If your transaction falls at the time when the current block is being finished, a Bitcoin transaction may only take about 2 minutes. Generally, if a transaction gets into the current block, it’s finalized within 10 minutes. But the transaction may not fit into the current block if you’ve set a low transaction fee (some wallets like Atomic allow for such functionality), or the blockchain is congested.
What is the average exchange time?
ChangeNOW swaps cryptocurrencies in 2 minutes on average, but sometimes the time goes up to 20 minutes. We consider the swap time normal if it’s between 2 and 20 minutes.
Blockchain is a living system, and sometimes there are factors that delay transactions. We cannot affect many of them, but we’re trying to warn the customers on our Twitter in advance. Some delay factors are in our area of responsibility. They can withhold an exchange for 30 minutes, or sometimes longer.
Here are the main reasons why crypto swaps take longer than expected:
- The blockchain is congested. Where there is an outburst of activity on the market, there are more transactions than usual, and miners/validators struggle to process them on time. This frequently happens to Bitcoin and Ethereum. For a transaction to go faster, you can set a higher fee in your wallet so that miners are more incentivized to process it; however, in this case, swapping the coin can become too expensive.
- DDoS attacks. This isn’t a frequent case, but we always try to do our best to beat it fast.
- Cryptocurrency updates. Sometimes we disable certain coin pairs to put them under maintenance. Usually, that doesn’t take long, and you learn about this fact before you initiate the swap.
At some exchanges, crypto swaps may take longer, especially if fiat currencies are involved. For instance, if you buy crypto with fiat on Coinbase, it can take the system up to 7 business days to process the transaction. ChangeNOW’s fiat operations are normally instant, but they involve more actors from fiat providers to banks that sometimes act slower than we would like them to.
What is a transaction hash and how can I use it?
Whenever a transaction is sent, a transaction hash is assigned to it — a string of characters that represents a unique identification of your transaction. With this hash, you can check the status of your transaction in a block explorer — is it confirmed and how many times.
If an exchange service delays your crypto swap, you can check the transaction hash to see if the coins sent from your wallet have reached the platform. Also, if you use a centralized exchange like Binance or Coinbase and want to deposit, you can find your transaction hash in a block explorer to see how many confirmations it has (the number of blocks that have passed since your transaction’s block). 2–3 confirmations for Bitcoin and about 20 for Ethereum are usually needed to deposit crypto on a custodial exchange.
What happens if a transaction is not confirmed?
Crypto transactions are irreversible, meaning that once they have at least one confirmation, you can’t get the funds back (this is a serious reason to always double-check the sums and the addresses you are sending funds to). On the contrary, if a transaction is not coming through, the funds will return to your wallet. This is a very rare case, though.
What if a transaction is not confirmed for hours?
Most of the crypto transactions cannot be accelerated once sent, but even in cases when it’s possible, the operation is technically very advanced. Algorithms of ChangeNOW are set in the way to process everything as fast as possible; however, the longest part of any crypto swap is when coins are verified in the blockchain, which we cannot affect.
That’s why if your wallet allows you to set fees manually, make sure to set them high enough so that the transaction doesn’t get stuck (it should be set as high by default). If the fee is set as low, it may take days for a blockchain to confirm your transaction. If a transaction is unconfirmed, the funds are returned to the customer.
What are the fees on ChangeNOW?
ChangeNOW partners with multiple liquidity providers, so at the moment of any crypto swap, we browse the market and automatically pick the rate that is the most favorable for you. On top of that, fees on ChangeNOW are among the lowest on the market of non-custodial exchange services, being between 0.5–1% on average. They are already included in the estimated rate that you see in the calculator before initiating the swap: there are no hidden fees.
The fees also depend on the exchange mode that you choose: classic or fixed rate.
With the classic rate, the swap is processed at the currency’s market rate relevant at the moment of the exchange. This moment happens when we receive your funds which usually takes 2–10 minutes. By that time, the rate may have slightly changed, so you may receive an amount a little different from the estimated one (if the rate goes in your favor, you will receive more).
With the fixed rate, we guarantee that what you see is 100% what you get. The fixed rate is a little less advantageous, but it eliminates risk, so we recommend you to use it if predictability is your top priority.
ChangeNOW allows swapping 250+ crypto coins without registration and custody. If you’re looking to invest in cryptocurrency or want to swap your coins hassle-free, visit ChangeNOW and see what we offer!