Blockchain Gas Fees: What L2 Finance Pros Need to Know


Blockchain Gas Fees: What L2 Finance Pros Need to Know
Layer 2 (L2) blockchains have emerged as an important solution for developers in the face of high gas fees and congested L1 networks. But, while L2s can offer significant cost reduction, navigating their fee structures can be tricky. Today, we’re shedding light on the L2 business model, gas fee basics, and financial considerations for optimizing your L2 operation.
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The L2 Business Model: Sharing the Cost Burden

Imagine a crowded highway where every car pays an individual toll. This is akin to Ethereum L1, where each transaction competes for limited space, driving up gas prices. L2s act like efficient carpool lanes. Transactions are bundled together and submitted in batches, significantly reducing the individual cost per transaction.

But, there’s a twist: there are two fees involved in L2 transactions.

  1. Local L2 Fee: This fee is paid on the L2 network and functions similarly to the gas price on L1. It's a real-time fee that incentivizes validators on the L2 network.

  1. L1 Batch Fee: This fee covers the cost of including the transaction bundle on the Ethereum L1 blockchain. It's paid later and is essentially a fee for using the L1 infrastructure.

Gas 101 + Fee Optimization: A Balancing Act

Understanding gas is crucial for navigating L2 fees. Gas is the unit used to measure the computational effort needed for a transaction on the blockchain. The higher the complexity, the more gas it consumes. L2s bundle transactions, but predicting the L1 batch fee remains a challenge due to a few factors:

  1. Time Difference: You pay the L2 fee now, but the L1 batch fee is settled later, introducing a time gap. Imagine booking a taxi cab (L2) and paying for gasoline later (L1). Predicting fuel prices for your "future ride" can be tricky.
  2. Fluctuating Gas Prices: Gas prices on Ethereum L1 are like the stock market – constantly on the move. Predicting the cost of your L1 batch fee becomes a guessing game.
  3. Network Congestion: Heavy traffic on the Ethereum network pushes gas prices higher, further complicating the estimation process. Imagine rush hour impacting your taxi fare.

Current L2 gas estimators are not perfect due to these complexities. 

Here's where the "Goldilocks zone" comes in. You want to pay a fee that ensures your transaction gets processed on time without overpaying significantly. Finding this sweet spot requires some monitoring and experience.

Accounting/Finance Implications: Weighing the Costs

L2 fees are generally much lower than Ethereum L1 fees. However, there's a trade-off to consider. Since L1 acts as the final settlement layer for L2 transactions, some level of L1 fee is unavoidable. The cost-effectiveness of L2s depends on your transaction frequency and size.

L2s are a clear winner for frequent small transactions. However, for infrequent, high-value transactions, the combined L1 and L2 fees might be comparable to just using an L1. Carefully consider your transaction needs and compare fees before choosing your platform.

The good news? We can expect advancements in L2 gas estimation in the coming months. 

Additionally, Ethereum upgrades might introduce more space for "blobs" (a new way to write data to L1, potentially impacting L1 batch fees). These developments could lead to a more predictable and user-friendly L2 experience.

Understanding the L2 business model, gas dynamics, and financial implications can equip you to tackle the new world of L2 transaction fees.

Want More? 

Earlier this month, industry leaders Pat White (Bitwave CEO & Co-Founder) and Matt Cutler (Blocknative CEO & Co-Founder) came together for a powerhouse webinar: "Blockchain Gas Fees: What L2 Finance Pros Need to Know" 

Together, they shared actionable insights and strategies for minimizing gas fee costs and managing financial compliance. Check out the full, on-demand on Bitwave University.  

Be sure to reach out Bitwave today to see how we can automate and streamline your digital asset finance journey—from on-chain accounting and reporting to tax optimization and payments.

Request a Bitwave demo today.

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as tax, accounting, or financial advice. The content is not intended to address the specific needs of any individual or organization, and readers are encouraged to consult with a qualified tax, accounting, or financial professional before making any decisions based on the information provided. The author and the publisher of this blog post disclaim any liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use or application of any of the contents herein.