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Getting a Crypto Refund Can Be Very Expensive

Long-time Slashdot reader smooth wombat writes:

Recently, Slashdot posted a story about a group trying to purchase one of the few copies of the U.S. Constitution in the public domain. The idea was to use pool donations by people via Ethereum to get the winning bid. Alas, Citadel CEO Ken Griffin outbid the group and took possession of the copy.

Now the group, ConsitutionDAO, is in the process of refunding the donations, the BBC reports, and the people getting their money back are finding it can be quite expensive…
The BBC writes:
That is because the Ethereum network records its transactions on the blockchain, the same basic technology idea that powers other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. And like Bitcoin mining, it requires computational power to run.
“Gas” is the fee paid to those who run the computer systems to facilitate transactions. And it changes price based on supply and demand. That means that at times, it can be much more expensive to make any kind of transaction, depending on how busy the Ethereum network is. And the network has recently seen high usage — and high gas prices.

On its official Discord — the chat app which allows anyone to create rooms and discussion channels for enthusiasts on almost any topic — the group said it had 17,437 donors with a median donation of $206.26. High gas fees mean that “small” donations could be severely hit by the transaction charge.

One user on the Discord said that in order to get $400 refunded, they would have to pay $168 in gas. Others complained of the fees being higher than the relatively small amount of their refund.

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