This week a flood of transactions which has alternately been called a spam attack or a stress test has forced Bitcoin users to adapt to a competitive transaction fee market for the first time since early 2013 when blocksize was consistently near default soft limit of 250 kilobytes. Numerous Bitcoin users and businesses are adapting to the flood of transactions by increasing their own transaction fees. At the present there are more than seventy megabytes of unconfirmed transactions leading to more naive users on Reddit and other social media to revert to speculating about blocksize hardforks which would merely amplify the problems this sort of flooding attack poses.
As has been predicted earlier on Qntra and Trilema, the Bitcoin network is operating perfectly fine and with the growing transaction fee market, Bitcoin is actually healthier than it was prior aside from the BIP 66 induced risk of blockchain forks which persists. Before where the transaction fee was enforced only be convention that it serve as an anti-spam measure there was no actual market any more than Medicaid is a market. Addressing Gavin's pseudo arguments for a blocksize increase earlier this year Mircea Popescu wrote:
Should blocks ever become full, older coinbases will be prioritized over newer coinbases, and larger mining fees and transactions prioritized over smaller mining fees and smaller transactions. This means that someone who wishes to pay for very little with Bitcoin will be forced to use something else, so to speak is forced to "give his seat" to someone richer. This is exactly the point and the intent of Bitcoin : to force the poor to yield to the rich, universally, as a matter of course.
Now the actors flooding the network and filling blocks at the present are using both old coinbases with some substantial age as well as setting their transaction fees at a higher rate than much of the rest of the network is. The illusion that every coffee might end up on the blockchain has faded to week to reveal the glory of a robust, attack and censorship resistant settlement network of actual value. If you have Bitcoin and can afford to spend coins on the blockchain now, you will be able to continue doing so into the future unless you gift them to a scammer.
Even if the current backlog of unconfirmed transactions is mined and transaction fee pressure abates for a while, Bitcoin has clearly passed a milestone this week. Prepare your procedures for a robust transaction fee market. Welcome to the future and enjoy your privilege.