- Ethereum transfer times can vary drastically and depend on the platform you're sending to, whether it's from a wallet to a wallet or a wallet to an exchange.
- Wallet to wallet transfers usually take between 15 seconds to 1 minute.
- Wallet to exchange transfers can take between 5 and 30 minutes.
- Factors that affect Ethereum transfer time include network congestion, gas fees, block confirmation times, and the exchange or wallet of your choice.
Ethereum transfer time is the total time between you clicking the “send” button and Ethereum coins showing up in the other wallet. This time is an essential determining factor behind Ethereum’s widespread adoption as it directly impacts its use as a mainstream currency.
Even if we’re not talking about its use as a currency, crypto transfer time still matters to traders & investors. They don't want to wait hours or longer for each transaction to complete. So, how does Ethereum perform in that department?
Well, the answer to this question is a little more nuanced than just saying “X seconds or minutes.” The exact time to transfer ETH can vary drastically. Let’s take a closer look at the reasons behind this variation and how you can speed up the process.
Average Ethereum Transfer Time
In our experience, an Ethereum transfer can take anywhere between 15 seconds and 30 minutes. One of the largest factors behind this vast difference is the platform you're sending to. Here’s why:
Wallet to wallet
Sending Ethereum from one wallet to another is relatively quick. We usually receive our ETH assets in the other wallet within 15 seconds to one minute. Even when it’s taking longer, an average transaction time rarely exceeds five minutes.
This is largely because most crypto wallets do not require a large number of confirmations before accepting the transfers. It also helps that crypto wallets are simpler services with faster processing times.
Wallet to exchange
Transferring Ethereum from a personal wallet to a cryptocurrency exchange takes noticeably longer on average. We often have to wait between 5 and 30 minutes before our deposit shows up in the exchange account.
This is still faster than the most popular crypto asset on the planet — Bitcoin — which can take up to 60 minutes for each transaction.
The reason for this is in line with what we discussed about wallet-to-wallet transfers. Most crypto exchanges require more blockchain confirmations before they accept a transaction. On the plus side, more confirmations make the exchange and your account more secure.
How Ethereum Transfers Work
Before its Merge in 2022, Ethereum used to work on a similar Proof of Work (PoW) model as Bitcoin and many other crypto assets.
During this process, each transaction was only added to the blockchain after its legitimacy was verified by mining computers. These computers lent their processing power to solve complex equations on the ERC-20 Ethereum blockchain and ensure its validity. Miners also received a small reward for their contributions to the network.
But, this method was slower and consumed a lot of energy. So, to mitigate this, the Ethereum network switched over to a Proof of Stake (PoS) system. This drastically reduced the energy footprint of the Ethereum blockchain and also increased transfer speeds. Here’s how it works:
Role of miners/validators
In the new PoS system, the authenticity of each ETH transaction is confirmed by validators/miners. These validators must deposit 32 ETH as collateral and as proof of their stake in the system. This collateral can then be erased if the validator makes an incorrect confirmation.
If there aren’t any issues and the transaction receives all the confirmations it needs, the transfer is complete. When this happens ETH will show up in the receiver's wallet.
There is another element to Ethereum transfers, which is its gas fee. You can think of it as a network fee that you must pay for each transaction. When a transaction is complete, part of this gas fee is awarded to the validator, and the rest is burned to manage ETH circulation.
Factors That Affect Ethereum Transfer Time
Now that you have a better understanding of how Ethereum transfers work, it’s to peek behind the curtain. From our experience, these are the underlying factors that have the largest effect on ETH transfer times:
At the time of writing, the ETH network can process up to 30 transactions per second. As long as the number of transaction requests is around or below this number, each transfer takes as little time as possible.
But, if there are more transfer requests than the ETH network can handle, it will become congested and each transaction will take longer to complete. This increase can be anywhere from a few more seconds to many minutes of extra waiting, depending on the state of the network.
The good news is that Ethereum network congestion is going to become less & less of an issue as ETH 2.0’s implementation continues. Some estimates even suggest that the ETH would be able to handle up to 100,000 transactions per second — completely eliminating the congestion concern.
As we mentioned earlier, gas fees are the transaction fees you have to pay every time you transfer Ethereum from one wallet to another.
These fees vary on almost a daily basis and are represented in Gwei which is one billionth of an ETH token. At the time of writing, for example, the ETH gas fee is around 46.89 Gwei while it was 44.42 Gwei the day before.
Since validators get a cut of these gas fees, they will prioritize transactions with higher gas fees. So, your transaction can take longer than usual if it offers a lower gas fee compared to its adjacent transfer requests.
Block confirmation times
Even if the network is not congested, your transactions can still take longer depending on where you’re sending the ETH tokens.
We touched on this earlier when discussing average ETH transfer times. In short, each Ethereum transaction requires a certain number of confirmations before it is considered complete and added to the ETH ledger.
The variable element here is the number of confirmations as it varies between exchanges and wallets.
For example, Coinbase requires 14 confirmations before accepting an ETH transfer while Binance requires 12. By this metric, sending Ethereum coins to your Binance account would take less time than sending the same amount to Coinbase.
Exchange or wallet of your choice
This goes hand in hand with the previous point but for a different reason. Even if the number of confirmations required by two exchanges or wallets is the same, sending ETH to both can still take different durations.
In this situation, the delay comes from the network and service quality of the exchange or wallet itself. Service providers with robust and efficient networks can verify an ETH transfer much faster than an unreliable service.
Exchanges or wallets that are prone to hiccups and random delays can also slow down the average transfer time and cause frustration. So, make sure to pick the right exchange or wallet that matches your transfer speed requirements.
How to Speed Up Ethereum Transfer Time
While there are many aspects of Ethereum transfer that are out of your control, you can still optimize your transactions for higher speed. Here are some proven methods we use to ensure that our ETH transfers are as fast as possible:
Increasing gas fees
The base gas fee is outside of your control. It is determined by factors like network traffic, demand for transaction verification, and supply of validators.
But, you can still use gas fees to your advantage. All you have to do is add an extra priority fee/tip to your transaction requests. In most cases, validators will prioritize your transaction with higher fees over the others, ensuring that your transfer is completed as soon as possible.
That said, we don’t recommend this strategy unless you’re in a hurry as it can be a needless expense during normal network conditions.
Avoiding network congestion
Speaking of network conditions, high gas fees, and network hash rates are good indicators of a congested network. You can minimize transfer times by avoiding these periods of network congestion and sending ETH when it’s back to normal.
Using a different network
You can send ETH over a number of alternative blockchain networks — like Polygon or Avalanche — to cut down on transfer times. These often have lower transfer fees as well.
Using layer 2 scaling solutions
Layer 2 solutions like Arbitrum or Optimism operate above the ETH blockchain. They can speed up your transfers considerably by bunching several transactions into batches and submitting them together to the ETH blockchain.
Entering the correct address
Before you send ETH, make sure to double-check the recipient address. This will ensure that the transaction is a success and you don’t have to waste time starting over again.
As we’ve learned, Ethereum transfer times can vary a lot depending on a number of different factors. Everything from the exchange/wallet of your choice to the amount of extra gas fees can affect the final transaction speed.
While many of these factors like network congestion are out of your control, you can still ensure faster transfers by following the tips we discussed above.
Besides — with the ongoing implementation of ETH 2.0 — here’s hoping that ETH transfers become fast enough to become a non-issue.
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