Immature, Confirmed and Cleared blocks / balance / coins – Explained
The stats page of mining pool contains a lots of numbers and percentages which are changing frequently. It will be quite difficult for beginners to figure out what is what. This is why along with mining and other coin guides we are also publishing guides explaining mining pools. So far we’ve explained about Suprnova mining pool and Yiimp mining pools. But still both the guides lack explanation on some of the important statistics that the mining pool displays. For example it doesn’t explain what immature, confirmed and cleared blocks / balance are. Here in this article we’ll explain them.
You might be wondering why some pools payouts are delayed and why it is not paying your balance instantly. Each and every mining pool has their own payout policy. The mining payout threshold amount for each coin varies and the payout processing time for each pool also differs. Once your mining balance reaches the payment threshold and once it is time for the pool to process payment all your confirmed balance will be send to your wallet. So when does my mining balance gets confirmed and when does it gets cleared?
Immature blocks, confirmed balance and cleared payments explained
Just started mining and finding all your block status and balance labeled as immature. Whether you solo mine or pool mine; all the freshly mined blocks will remain immature initially. Just like how transactions require certain block confirmations; freshly mined coins also requires certain confirmations. Once all the mined coins has got enough confirmations your immature balance becomes confirmed. So why does these blocks and my balance are immature initially?
What are Immature blocks?
Immature blocks are new blocks in blockchain that has been found but are not matured enough yet. For it to mature it requires a certain number of confirmations. So why this requirement?
Blockchain forks are common and it can occur for several reasons. Whatever; there can only be one main chain and that is the chain which is longer. Any blocks which are not part of this main chain will be orphaned and any new coins that are generated from orphan blocks are invalid. To know more about this first read what are orphan, uncle and stale blocks.
When a block is mined the miner will be rewarded with coins that has no parent. All these new coins are created from nothing and before this coinbase transaction becomes spendable they need to mature.
This coin maturity is to prevent users from early spending those invalid coins which are created from the temporary blockchain forks. For most coins including Bitcoin the requirement is 100 confirmations (COINBASE_MATURITY = 100). 100 confirmations takes hours and with 100 confirmations the block will be buried deep in to the chain. It is considered that once it has got enough confirmations the transaction becomes irreversible. This is why new coins are not allowed to be spent immediately but after they are deeply secured. For more information check this guide which explains about Bitcoin block confirmations.
So how it is different than regular transactions and why can’t we call immature blocks as unconfirmed blocks.
Immature vs unconfirmed blocks
Immature is a status only used for newly generated coins and the term immature and unconfirmed is quite different. Maturity is a protocol rule to prevent abnormalities in the network. Whereas transactions confirmations are client-side policy. You need 6 confirmations to confirm that your transaction is secure. But for the new coins to become spendable it needs to have100 confirmations.
All regular transaction contains inputs and outputs. But these new coins generated from mining are coming from coinbase transaction and it has no inputs. If a regular transaction gets into a orphaned block then it is not going to matter. Since it has inputs and gone through a chain of transactions it can be included in the next valid block. But the new coins generated from orphaned blocks are effectively invalid and cannot be replayed at all.
How long it will take for immature balance to mature?
Immature balance represent the appropriate balance of the immature blocks. When you are mining you’ll always find immature balance. All these immature balance; after x number of confirmations it goes in your unpaid balance. If you are unsure then stop mining and note your immature balance. It will go to 0.00000 and it will eventually be paid out. But there are occurrence (not when pool mining) in which even after enough coinbase confirmations the coins which you mined will remain immature. It means the block which you’ve created was orphaned and you won’t receive those coins.
So how long will it take for the immature balance to turn into mature. As we said your immature balance needs to have 101 confirmations. Until then it cannot be spent or transferred. Each single confirmation is a block and the block time of each and every coin varies. For example in Bitcoin the block time is 10 Minutes. So to calculate when your new coins will get mature know the block height of your immature balance, add 100 to the block number and use block explorer to find out whether that particular block has been mined or not. When that gets mined your immature balance becomes real balance.
For example block 392,102 gets mature when its confirmation is 392,202. If the average block time is 1 Minute then it will take around 100 minutes. If the average block time is 10 minutes then it will take around 1000 minutes (16 Hours 40 Minutes to mature). This formula is to give you a rough idea and the time taken depends on mempool congestion and several other factors.
What are confirmed balance and cleared balance?
This don’t need much explanation after reading the above. Whichever pool you are on; the blocks that are mined will be immature in the beginning. Once it has got 100 confirmations all your balance from that particular block becomes confirmed. Once it gets confirmed your balance will also get confirmed and it will be labeled as confirmed balance. This confirmed balance will then be cleared and it will be finally paid out to your wallet address. This explains why there is always an initial delay before the first payment.