How To Check Bitcoin Transfer Speeds (and how busy the Bitcoin Network is)
There's a lot happening in Bitcoin world lately - activation of SegWit, release of Bitcoin Cash, incoming SegWit2x hardfork... All of this things have influence on the Bitcoin network and how fast it can process transactions.
If you wish to know how congested the network it and whether your transfer will be processed in next the 10 minutes or 10 hours - these are the tools to check it out. Let's take a look at them:
The Mempool Viewer
Mempool is a backlog of transactions waiting for confirmation. The bigger the backlog, the more time average transactions needs to be processed and the higher the fees.
One of the best tools to check current mempool is https://core.jochen-hoenicke.de.
It displays real-time self-updating charts. Currently you can see that there's over 70.000 unconfirmed transactions - which is a huge number and means that your transactions, unless you'll pay high fee, will take several hours.
The second tool to check how busy is the Bitcoin Network is fork.lol.
It displays the current Bitcoin hashrate compared to Bitcoin Cash (more about it in a moment) but what's more important, it shows how many Bitcoin blocks are created each hour. You want that number to hit 6 or more and if it gets below 6 - the Bitcoin Network gets congested.
Here you can see that currently the Bitcoin has about 3 blocks per hour which mean that the situation won't be better any time soon.
Why the Bitcoin Network Get Congested
Without getting into politics - recently a new version of Bitcoin was created (trough a hard fork) called Bitcoin Cash.
Bitcoin cash has something called EDA - emergency difficulty adjustment. It was designed to drastically decrease the mining difficulty if the mining process goes to slow. So if there are too few blocks mined for 12 hours, the difficulty drops and and after this reductions it is very easy to mine Bitcoin Cash. Miners exploit this feature and basically mine the heck out of Bitcoin Cash after each reduction and then stops to mine it all to trigger another reduction.
Because after each reduction it is more profitable to mine Bitcoin Cash instead of Bitcoin, miners switch to BCH and the Bitcoin Network slows down (and it does not have EDA) which greatly increases the number of unconfirmed transactions.
Hopefully this situation won't last long and the system will balance itself soon.