I've heard estimates ranging from 5-10 times bigger, but is it possible to come up with a more precise answer? By how much will this figure change after RingCT is implemented? What other factors might affect this size difference in the future? That is, can it be optimized?

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Well, looking at a few transactions gives you the answer quite plainly, at least for the Monero side. I'm not familiar with Bitcoin transaction sizes, but I think they're a few hundred bytes, typically.

A small tx, 4 inputs and 4 outputs: 1692 bytes. http://moneroblocks.info/tx/f634025ef2d0fd0836ce2a5207e782609c3250cd5f8a0dd5269ce4e5c2f71bb7

A large tx, 21 inputs and a whopping 40 outputs: 9464 bytes. http://moneroblocks.info/tx/069884b2ff99fb9b9a3f026d51c204c2abf5e23e23b6ce5c8fc73245cf81f67a

With RingCT, transactions will start at about 6.7 kB, and typically increase not a lot from there, since most transactions are expected to be 2 inputs and 2 outputs, typically. A RingCT tx with 2 inputs, 2 outputs, and mixin 4 looks like about 13 kB. Interestingly, making it mixin 85 only takes it to 24 kB, which means a large increase in privacy only takes 50% more space.

  • That's very interesting, I did not expect that RingCT transactions will be larger than normal transactions, but be infinitely more private with little if any increase in size beyond it's initial size. That's a nice trade off. Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 16:12
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    It's not quite clear what the size effect will be. The smallest will likely be lower than 13 kB, I mixed up in my tests and counted an extra change output, the currently the smallest would be 6.5 kB. A 2 input, 2 output does look to be around 13 kB though. But since you'll typically need less inputs and outputs than for a classical Cryptonote tx, it's not super clear what the difference in average tx size will be. - I just fixed my numbers.
    – user36303
    Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 16:18

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