Amid the Greek Crisis, Bitcoin Reminds Everyone It’s Not Perfect


The economic crisis in Greece has turned some attention to Bitcoin again. The price of the digital currency has rallied over the past few days, partly because some Greeks have been snapping up the currency amid bank closures and cash withdrawal limits. It’s trading at the highest rate since March, and Bitcoin bulls expect demand to go even higher if the situation worsens. Citing the Greek crisis, Coinbase waived fees last week for customers buying Bitcoin with euros.

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But over the weekend, Bitcoin’s software provided a well-timed reminder of why it’s not the perfect financial system, either. Bitcoin transactions have been taking five times longer than usual to complete, according to Gil Luria, an analyst at Wedbush Securities. That’s because the system for authorizing and approving transactions within the Bitcoin network has been functioning incorrectly. So anyone who sells a computer, say, on Craigslist for Bitcoin may want to wait five hours to confirm that the payment actually went through, Luria says.

The problems stem from a new version of the Bitcoin software that runs on PCs and servers underpinning the currency’s decentralized system. Operators who haven’t upgraded their machines to the latest software have put the whole system out of whack, and it’s also preventing some people from generating new Bitcoin as part of a process called mining.
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While Luria says the software issue will likely be fixed in the next couple of days, this isn’t the first time it’s happened. Similar problems have cropped up several times in recent years. “But I don’t know that it’s happened to this extent, because

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