Bitcoin Scalability: Challenges and Solutions

This article explores the various challenges associated with Bitcoin’s scalability problem, with potential solutions while maintaining network security.

Jun 22, 2023

Key Takeaways:

  • The Bitcoin scalability problem arises due to the limited ability of the network to process transactions rapidly and efficiently.
  • Solutions to the Bitcoin scalability problem include improving consensus mechanisms, implementing sharding, and utilising nested blockchains.
  • Challenges remain in balancing decentralisation, security, and scalability, with trade-offs often necessary.
  • Layer-2 solutions, such as the Lightning Network, offer promising improvements in transaction speed and cost.
  • provides a user-friendly platform for trading Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

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The Bitcoin scalability problem has been a concern since its inception. As the network has grown and the number of transactions increased, Bitcoin’s limited blockchain capacity to process transactions rapidly and efficiently has become evident. 

This article explores the challenges associated with the Bitcoin scalability problem and discusses potential solutions to address these issues while maintaining the network’s security and decentralisation.


Bitcoin’s popularity and increasing adoption have led to a growing number of transactions on its network. However, the current capacity of the Bitcoin blockchain can only process around 7 to 10 transactions per second (tps), far less than traditional payment systems like Visa, for example, which can handle thousands of transactions per second. 

This limitation stems from the network’s design, with block creation time averaging 10 minutes and block size limited to 1 MB. As a result, users often face increased transaction fees and delayed processing times during peak periods.

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The Scalability Trilemma

To address the Bitcoin scalability problem, it is essential to find a balance between decentralisation, security, and scalability — a challenge often referred to as the ‘scalability trilemma’ in the blockchain space. This trilemma suggests that a blockchain network can only optimise two of these three essential traits simultaneously. In other words, to improve scalability, trade-offs are required.

Bitcoin Scalability Solutions

Several solutions have been proposed to address the Bitcoin scalability problem, including the following:

Improved Consensus Mechanisms

One approach to improving Bitcoin scalability involves updating the network’s consensus mechanisms. Currently, the Bitcoin network relies on the Proof of Work (PoW) consensus, well-known for its strong security. However, PoW is relatively slow. 

An alternative consensus mechanism, Proof of Stake (PoS), has been proposed to enhance scalability without compromising security or decentralisation. By selecting validators based on their stakes in the network, PoS allows for faster transaction processing and reduced energy consumption compared to PoW. Ethereum transferred from PoW to PoS in 2023, but many Bitcoin users see PoW as an integral part of what makes Bitcoin what it is, so a transfer is unlikely and, if executed, would only lead to a hard fork, not to a complete change of the whole network.


Sharding is another potential solution to the Bitcoin scalability problem, involving the division of transactions into smaller datasets, called ‘shards’. These shards can be processed simultaneously and in parallel, allowing for faster transaction throughput. By breaking down transactions into smaller pieces, sharding can save both storage space and processing time on the network.

Nested Blockchains

Nested blockchains are decentralised networks that leverage the main blockchain to establish parameters for a larger interconnected network of secondary chains. By allowing transactions to be executed over these secondary chains, nested blockchains can improve scalability without impacting the main blockchain’s security or decentralisation.

Layer-2 Solutions: The Lightning Network

All of the above are solutions that would alter the original Bitcoin blockchain, which is hard to implement. Layer-2 solutions are easier to implement and therefore more realistic, as they are separate blockchains built on top of the main network. One Layer-2 for Bitcoin is already in use, the Lightning Network. It offers improvements in transaction speed and cost.

The Lightning Network is an off-chain protocol that enables instant, low-cost transactions by establishing payment channels between users. Transactions can then be routed through these channels without requiring confirmation on the main blockchain, resulting in faster processing times and reduced fees.

Learn more about the Lightning Network and its potential impact on Bitcoin scalability.


While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the Bitcoin scalability problem, various approaches have been proposed to improve the network’s capacity for processing transactions. Balancing decentralisation, security, and scalability remains a challenge, but innovations like improved consensus mechanisms, sharding, nested blockchains, and the Lightning Network offer promising avenues for addressing the issue. Currently, the most used solution to speed up Bitcoin transactions and use it as an actual medium of exchange is the Lightning Network.

The field continues to evolve, so stay informed about the latest developments, like the Ordinals addition to the Bitcoin network in 2023.

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Due Diligence and Do Your Own Research

All examples listed in this article are for informational purposes only. You should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, cybersecurity, or other advice. Nothing contained herein shall constitute a solicitation, recommendation, endorsement, or offer by to invest, buy, or sell any coins, tokens, or other crypto assets. Returns on the buying and selling of crypto assets may be subject to tax, including capital gains tax, in your jurisdiction. Any descriptions of products or features are merely for illustrative purposes and do not constitute an endorsement, invitation, or solicitation.

Past performance is not a guarantee or predictor of future performance. The value of crypto assets can increase or decrease, and you could lose all or a substantial amount of your purchase price. When assessing a crypto asset, it’s essential for you to do your research and due diligence to make the best possible judgement, as any purchases shall be your sole responsibility.


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