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The Case of the $2.6 Million Transaction Fee on Ethereum

What happens when you make a mistake sending cryptocurrency? It is permanent, but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes, if the receiver gets an unexpected transaction sent to their wallet, they will know about it. On June 10 2020, a user of the Ethereum network sent a transaction with a 2.6 million dollar transaction fee. The mining pool that received the transaction decided to hang on to the transaction fee, in case the sender wants it back. This act of good faith is not uncommon in the cryptocurrency space.

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The Bloomberg Anchor Heist

This isn’t the first time the cryptocurrency community has acted in good faith. The story goes like this, Bloomberg Insider was hosting the 12 days of bitcoin. They gave two of the hosts $20 worth of bitcoin each on live television. As one of the hosts proceeded to open their gift, they presented the private key for the bitcoin address for the camera to see. For about 10 seconds, the private key of the bitcoin address was visible for the world to take advantage of. Sure enough, one savvy reddit user did just that. It wasn’t long after the segment ended that the user transferred the bitcoin out of the wallet. At the time, you could buy 10 bitcoin for $20 as each bitcoin was about $2 per piece. Nowadays, that same amount of bitcoin is worth around $100k.

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The reddit user offered to return the funds to the host. In return, all that they ask is that proper bitcoin security practices gets covered as a topic in a segment. The host tells the reddit user that they can keep the $20 (now $100k). The reddit user knows that they’re receiving bitcoin, the host thinks they’re giving away $20. The point is, the individual on reddit was more than happy to return the bitcoin at the time, because the host didn’t know any better.

The Large Ethereum Transaction Fee

When you send Ether, you also need to attach a small fee for the miners. This fee can range from fractions of a cent, to a dollar more per transaction. The larger the transaction, the more incentive there is for miners to approve your transaction before others. One user probably made a mistake while sending $133 worth of Ether. They ended up paying a fee that was $2.5 million dollars. Fortunately, they do still have many more millions left in their Ethereum account. The mining pool that picked up the transaction fee is deliberating on what to do with it. For the meantime, they’ve broadcasted to the world that they are willing to return it. The owner of the address would have to come forth and claim it.

Altruism Among Cryptocurrency Community

These two acts are altruistic in nature. Both the reddit user and the mining pool understand the same thing. It makes sense that people will make mistakes with this new technology. In order for full fledged adoption to ever take place, we need to ethically correct the mistakes of others. With education. Cryptocurrency needs to be a place where even though transactions are permanent, they are returned to their rightful owners. This is analogous to losing your wallet in the public park. You hope that whoever picks it up, is kind enough to return it to lost and found. More than that, you hope that they don’t take whatever bills you have inside. When an event like this happens, it illustrates that there are good people in the world. We can turn other mistake transactions into learning opportunities.