If you sent a digital asset transaction that hasn’t gone through, or that you couldn’t get to send, then you’re in the right place. We’re going to discuss the reasons why your cryptocurrency transactions might not be going through or failing, in addition to providing you some solutions. Finally, we’ll discuss what happens if you send your crypto assets to the wrong address, and hopefully help you avoid ever doing so. Let’s start with reasons why your transaction may not go through.
Reasons Why a Transaction Might Fail
There are a few reasons why your transaction might not go through, each of which we’ll break down below. We’ll also give you advice on how you can fix the issue.
Not Enough Gas/High Enough Transaction Fee
One of the most common reasons that a crypto transaction may not go through is that you didn’t have enough gas to have it be processed by a validator/miner. In this case, the transaction will simply fail and you’ll have to resend the transaction with a higher transaction fee attached to it. In this case, you’ll likely have lost a small bit of the original gas you attached to the first transaction, but overall you’ll still have about the same amount as you started with.
For example, if you’re using the Ethereum network at a time of high network congestion, and go to make a swap on Uniswap, the amount of gas required for the transaction to be processed will be calculated automatically. However, if something changes in the network while you’re sending the transaction (such as many other transactions being sent with higher gas fees attached for miners to collect), then the gas attached to your transaction will no longer be sufficient for it to be processed and it will fail.
As mentioned earlier, the only way to fix this is to simply resend the transaction with a sufficient gas fee. The transaction will then go through. If you really want it to go through fast then pick a higher fee to pay.
Sending to an invalid address isn’t the same as sending crypto assets to the wrong address (which we’ll get to later). A crypto transaction cannot be sent to an address that doesn’t exist, so that transaction would fail, or your wallet would automatically tell you that the address is invalid.
For example, if you mistyped someone’s Bitcoin address by one digit (though you should be copy and pasting), this would be an invalid as there would be no corresponding “pubkeyhash” which is the part of a Bitcoin wallet that’s used to organize and generate new addresses within one wallet. The network wouldn’t be able to find the destination so it wouldn’t even send the transaction. It’s estimated that a simple address typo only has a 1 in 4 billion chance of being a valid address.
This is probably the easiest one to fix as all you have to do is enter the correct address in order to make the transaction go through.
Transaction Already in Mempool
If you already tried to send a transaction, but it’s taking a long time to go through, you may be tempted to send it again. However, as long as your transaction has enough gas/fee to be processed, it will still be in the mempool waiting to be validated. A transaction can get stuck in the mempool for a long period of time depending on network conditions and the types of other transactions being sent by other users. If there are continuously more valuable transactions to process, miners will pick those ones, meaning yours will just be left until they choose to process it. If in this situation you go to send the exact same transaction (with the same fee, amounts, to the same destination, etc.) then the transaction will fail.
There are two separate solutions to this issue, the first of which is to just wait. The transaction will be processed but it may take up to 48 hours in extreme cases. The second option is to resend the transaction but with a higher gas fee. For Ethereum this means using the “Speed Up” option which is often found on a wallet’s user interface for transactions, which will add more gas to the original transaction. You can also “Cancel” the transaction and send it again (more on this in the next section).
For Bitcoin, you can send a Replace By Fee (RBF) assuming the wallet has the function built in. This essentially does the same thing as the Speed Up option on Ethereum.
What if I Send Crypto to the Wrong Address?
Simply put, if you send crypto to the wrong address (but a valid address), then there’s nothing you can do. That crypto is now in the hands of whoever owns the address. Unless you somehow notice you sent the crypto to the wrong address almost immediately, there’s absolutely nothing that can be done. This is especially true for Bitcoin transactions.
For Ethereum transactions, if you’re quick to notice the error you can try to cancel the transaction, which involves a similar solution as the mempool issue mentioned earlier. Many Ethereum wallets have a cancel button built into their user interface to make this easier to do for you. You’re essentially sending another transaction, at a faster speed than the one you’re trying to cancel, but with the same “nonce”.
A nonce is essentially the transaction number from the sender’s address, you can think of it like an order number. By sending a second transaction with the same nonce, but at a faster speed, the second transaction will be processed first. There can’t be two transactions with the same nonce, so the first transaction will then fail when it reaches the network after the second transaction was processed. This effectively cancels your transaction. You can then resend the funds to the right address.
For some tips on how to avoid making the mistake of sending crypto to the wrong address, check out this article.