[bitcoin-dev] BIP Idea: Marginal Pricing

William Morriss wjmelements at gmail.com
Thu Nov 30 06:13:15 UTC 2017

On Wed, Nov 29, 2017 at 6:38 PM, Ben Kloester <benkloester at gmail.com> wrote:

> Something similar to this has been proposed  in this article by Ron Lavi,
> Or Sattath, and Aviv Zohar, and discussed in this bitcoin-dev thread
> https://lists.linuxfoundation.org/pipermail/bitcoin-
> dev/2017-September/015093.html
> They only discussed changing the fee structure, not removing the block
> size limit, as far as I know.
>     "Redesigning Bitcoin's fee market"
>     https://arxiv.org/abs/1709.08881
> *Ben Kloester*

Thanks. Marginal pricing is equivalent to the "Monopolistic Price
Mechanism" discussed in https://arxiv.org/abs/1709.08881. The mechanism is
the same, including the block size adjustment, but as you noted the prior
discussion only concerns the fee structure.

It looks like the prior proposal broke down because of Peter Todd's concern
with out-of-band payments (https://lists.linuxfoundation.org/pipermail/
bitcoin-dev/2017-September/015103.html). Restated, miners can circumvent
the system through out of band payments. Mark Friedenbach argues that
out-of-band payments are penalized in part because the end-user could have
just as easily bid higher instead of paying OOB. Peter Todd argues that a
miner could mine only out-of-band transactions. Such transactions could
have no on-chain fees and thus be disregarded by other miners.

I believe this OOB scenario is imaginary. Either it would be more
profitable for a miner to mine fairly, or cheaper for the end-user to pay
the fee in-band. Consider MINFEE to the the effective fee paid for the
block mined by the OOB-incentivized miner. Consider MARKFEE to the the
market fee collected by non-OOB-incentivized miners. Call the OOB effective
tx fee OOB. Then,
For a user to prefer OOB: MINFEE+OOB<MARKFEE
For a miner to prefer OOB: MINFEE+OOB>MARKFEE
It is impossible for both scenarios to be true. As previously argued by
Mark Friedenbach, the system disincentivizes OOB tx fees.

I don't think there is any more centralization pressure with marginal fees
than before. What prevents miners from colluding to move tx fees OOB is the
value of the on-band pending tx fees. The hashpower of individual miners is
not impressive compared to the entire network, so individual miners could
not offer a service to speed up confirmation that would be superior to
simply doing a RBP. OOB fees are perhaps a symptom of the current setup,
wherein there is no penalty for arbitrarily favoring individual
transactions with lower fees.
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