Coinbase, one of the most popular cryptocurrency exchange platforms, just announced it is rolling out a bitcoin network update called SegWit. SegWit has been available since August, a predecessor to layered scaling solution such as the Lightning Network. So many bitcoin enthusiasts were frustrated with enterprise players for taking so long. The bitcoin network is currently overwhelmed with demand, which slows transactions and increases network fees. According to Bitinfocharts.com, network fees peaked in January at almost $55 per transaction.

So the bitcoin community rejoiced when Coinbase tweeted plans to launch SegWit support for all their customers by next week. Bitfinex, another leading bitcoin exchange, also announced upcoming SegWit support on Monday. “The SegWit implementation means Bitfinex users can benefit from lower BTC withdrawal fees (approximately 15 percent) and improved processing times on transactions across the Bitcoin network,” the Bitfinex team said in a blog post.

According to CoinMarketCap, Bitfinex processed more than $621 million worth of USD to bitcoin transactions over the past 24 hours, with bitcoin making up roughly 39 percent of the total cryptocurrency market activity. This announcement quickly matched a boost in bitcoin prices, which grew more than five percent over the past 24 hours to around $11,747, according to OnChainFX,.

2018 promises to be a monumental year for bitcoin. The popular payment processor Stripe — with clients such as Target, Lyft, IndieGoGo and Facebook — will soon stop supporting bitcoin payment options because of volatility and network congestion. However, last week Coinbase also announced it now offers a service for merchants that want to accept bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ether or litecoin. “Coinbase Commerce can be directly integrated into a merchant’s checkout flow or added as a payment option on an e-commerce platform,” the Coinbase team said in a blog post. It looks like reliable options for cheaper, faster cryptocurrency payments are on the horizon.

bitcoin_large 2018 hasn't been so kind to bitcoin. Photo: GETTY IMAGES.