Image by Patrick Lordan via License: Creative Commons

For the first time in several years, Bitcoin transaction fees exceed Ethereum’s. We examine the numbers and explain the causes.

Actually, the race for transaction fees was over long ago. Since around 2020, the block producers on Ethereum have been collecting more fees than the miners on Bitcoin, and not just a little more, but many times over. No wonder, after all, a smart contract platform offers many more applications than “just” transactions.

But recently that has changed. So tweetete Crypto magazine “TheBlock” reported on November 25 that Bitcoin fees over the past seven days have surpassed those of Bitcoin.

Bitcoin fees

In fact, Bitcoin transaction fees have increased significantly over the course of November.

Data from

Throughout the month, miners collect between two and twelve million dollars in fees per day. This is a massive increase compared to the 300,000 to 1.2 million in the previous months; in November of the previous year there were only 250,000 to 450,000. Bitcoin transactions are experiencing growth that other industries can only dream of.

To express the numbers in Bitcoin, so free from the noise of exchange rates: Fee income increased from 16-50 Bitcoin between July and November to 30-317 Bitcoin. On some days, fees have already made up a significant portion of miners’ daily income.

If they find 144 blocks per day, this will result in exactly 900 Bitcoins with a block reward of 6.25 Bitcoin. Increasing this to 1000 or 1200 is more than just a detail.

The coming halfening…

If the reward falls to 3,125 with the fourth halfening next year, the 900 Bitcoins per day will become 450. The record days in November will not completely compensate for this, but will compensate for it to a significant extent. Bitcoin is well on its way to surviving the next halfening without any significant loss of security.

It is already noticeable for users today: the fees per transaction have increased significantly. While in the fall they were around two dollars – with valleys of 1.20 and a peak of 4.79 dollars – in November they were over five dollars on almost every day and jumped to more than 20 on peak days. So it became more expensive to use Bitcoin. This is good for the miners and the security of the network – but less pleasant for ordinary users.

Ethereum fees

With Ethereum, however, the picture looks completely different. There was a massive spike in fees here from 2020 to spring 2022. On bad days the miners took in 3,000 ETH, on good days more than 30,000, which was equivalent to a good $90 million at the time. Bitcoin was and is far away from such dimensions.

Data from

Since then, Ethereum fees have been steadily decreasing from high levels. In the spring they fell to a low of 300-700 a day, and even after a small increase from there they remain relatively low in November this year at a minimum of 300, a maximum of 1000, and usually 500-600 Ether. This roughly equates to $1-1.2 million on normal days.

This marked the first time in a long time that fee income on Bitcoin exceeded that of Ethereum in November. It is worth noting, however, that Ethereum activity has expanded into numerous Layer 2s over the past few years. Only 15-30 percent of daily transactions take place on the main chain.

Transactions on the Ethereum mainchain (blue) and on the L2 (red/pink). Source: L2Beat

This is also reflected in the fees collected. Although the fees per transaction on the L2s are significantly lower – that is their purpose – the overall amount is still small. For example, on November 23rd, users of Arbitrum paid a good 140 Ether, Optimism 30 and Base 21 Ether in fees. So in total almost 200 Ether or 400,000 dollars.

Fees on four of the most important L2s. Source: Dune Analytics

But even if you add the rollup fees, it cannot be overlooked that Bitcoin has caught up a lot in terms of fees. The reason is not difficult to determine.

Ordinals drive demand

The high demand for space in a Bitcoin block is usually not caused by people who want to send money. This need does not appear to have changed noticeably.

Instead, the Ordinals became the fee driver again in November. Ordinals is a protocol that allows you to put NFTs on the blockchain – including images and other data – as well as fungible tokens according to the BRC standard.

After the situation calmed down after the initial hype died down in the early summer of this year, the fees paid for Ordinals exploded again in November. On most days, ordinals brought in more than 20 Bitcoin in fees, and on outliers even 122 to 133.

Fees through ordinals. Source: Dashboard on Dune Analytics

The outliers are exciting. These are November 16th and 18th. On these days, the miners received a total of 317 and 316 Bitcoins. The ordinals make up a large proportion of this – more than a third – but the other transaction income has also multiplied compared to the previous months, with almost 200 Bitcoin.

November 17th is even more interesting. On this day, the Ordinals slowed down with a good 58 Bitcoin in fees. However, total revenue remained at a remarkably high level of almost 250 Bitcoin. So it seems like the strong demand from Ordinals is also driving up fee income for other transactions.

Not inscriptions, but tokens

But why are the Ordinals hyping again? This question is difficult to answer without extensive research.

A dashboard at Dune simply shows that the “text” ordinals dominate. This has been the case since mid-April, when the BRC20 token standard, which is based on the ordinals structure, was published.

Source: Dune Analytics again

In fact, another dashboard shows that fees generated by BRC-20 tokens exploded again in November.

Fees through BRC tokens. Source: a dashboard on Dune Analytics

Why is that? Possibly because an ecosystem has built up around the tokens. You can trade them on the first exchanges, you have stable prices and charts. That doesn’t make the tokens useful or attractive – but it’s apparently enough to charge miners high fees and drive up transaction costs for everyone.


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