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Bitcoin Halving

| June 14, 2024

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Key takeaway

  • A Bitcoin halving event occurs when the reward for mining Bitcoin transactions is halved. This reduction in rewards decreases the pace at which new coins are generated, reducing the overall supply of new Bitcoin.

What is Bitcoin halving?

A Bitcoin halving event is a crucial occurrence ingrained within Bitcoin’s protocol. The block reward for mining Bitcoin transactions is halved after every 210,000 blocks. It is widely regarded as one of the most significant events in the cryptocurrency industry. Understanding the concept of halving and its repercussions is paramount for both novice enthusiasts and seasoned investors alike.

Halving the block rewards is an automatic process triggered once a specified number of blocks have been successfully mined. The most recent Bitcoin halving took place in May 2020, and the next one is anticipated in April 2024.

The primary aim of halving is to reduce the influx of new coins into the network, thereby regulating the Bitcoin supply. However, it also introduces the potential risk of diminishing incentives for miners to continue mining Bitcoin.

How Does Bitcoin Halving Work?

To grasp the mechanics of halving, it’s essential first to understand Bitcoin mining.

Bitcoin relies on a proof-of-work (PoW) system for validating transaction data. This system is termed so because solving the encrypted hash necessitates time and energy, thus serving as evidence of work performed. In this setup, individuals utilize computers or specialized mining rigs to participate in the Bitcoin network, thus serving as both transaction processors and validators.

When a block is filled with transactions, it is sealed and added to a mining queue, where miners compete to solve the block’s cryptographic puzzle first. Upon validating the legitimacy of the transactions within a block, miners initiate a new one and are rewarded for their efforts.

This process forms a chain of blocks containing transaction data, forming what we know as the blockchain.

During each halving event, the reward for these network contributors is halved. Thus reducing the rate at which new bitcoins enter circulation. For perspective, as of March 2024, over 19 million bitcoins have been mined, leaving approximately 2 million bitcoins yet to be “mined.”

How does the Bitcoin halving affect miners?

Following the upcoming Bitcoin Halving, miners will witness a reduction in their block rewards, which will be halved to 3.125 BTC. This decrease in rewards could prompt some miners to reconsider the viability of their operations. This is particularly crucial due to the escalating costs of electricity and hardware maintenance associated with mining.

As the profitability of Bitcoin mining diminishes for some miners, there may be a shift towards decentralization within the market. This could lead to a decline in Bitcoin’s overall hash rate. Eventually, miners would either shut down their mining operations or pivot towards other cryptocurrencies with similar proof-of-work algorithms.

However, it’s important to note that despite these changes, the pace at which blocks are mined and new bitcoins are introduced into circulation will remain unaffected. This is because the software is engineered to dynamically adjust the difficulty of verifying Bitcoin transactions. Thus, ensuring a consistent issuance rate.

Halving Bitcoin may seem like a straightforward measure to reduce miner rewards. However, its underlying purpose is to regulate Bitcoin’s inflation rate. Unlike fiat currencies like the Euro or US dollar, which governments can print at will, Bitcoin operates within strict supply limits set by Satoshi Nakamoto. By halving the block rewards, Bitcoin’s total supply is gradually constrained over time. This mitigates the risk of devaluation resulting from excessive issuance.

In many respects, Bitcoin behaves similarly to scarce commodities such as gold or palladium. However, unlike traditional commodities, the predictable nature of Bitcoin’s supply reduction allows for precise calculation and forecasting of its available mining potential.