Right now each transaction takes about 30 minutes or longer. Previously it was said that the increasing number of transactions (even empty spam) are good for the network and are improve the transaction time. However, two weeks ago the developers asked to stop the spamming (due to DDoS?). Is it still a certainty that transaction times will go down over time? What are the caveats of that?
And related: I often read that IOTA is a solution for near-instantaneous transactions. However, this seems only possibly with a flash channel? Otherwise a transaction will always take many minutes till it is propagated throughout the network, no? Is it possible to reach near-instantaneous transaction time based on the core protocol without using flash channels?