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What is Bitcoin Halving?

| April 9, 2024

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Investors know Bitcoin functions as a digital currency. But its value hinges on the principle of verifiable scarcity, which means it cannot be endlessly created.

The Bitcoin protocol is built upon two fundamental concepts regarding scarcity:

Firstly, Bitcoin has a limited supply. The protocol dictates that only 21 million bitcoins can ever exist, with no possibility of additional bitcoins being created. This stands in contrast to fiat currencies, which can be subject to inflation through government or central bank printing.

The second concept is known as “halving.” Roughly every four years, the reward for Bitcoin mining, called the “block reward,” is halved. This directly impacts the rate at which new Bitcoins enter circulation by reducing the reward given to network contributors by 50%.

Upon reaching this milestone, miners will rely solely on transaction fees to validate blocks.

Key Takeaways

  • A Bitcoin halving takes place when the reward for miners completing Bitcoin transactions is reduced by half. This reduction effectively decreases the rate at which new coins are generated. It limits the available supply of new bitcoins.
  • The most recent halving event occurred on May 11, 2020, resulting in a block reward of 6.25 BTC. The ultimate halving is anticipated to happen in 2140. It coincides with the projected maximum supply of 21 million bitcoins in circulation.

What is Bitcoin Halving?

Bitcoin halving, also termed a ‘halvening,’ refers to the event where the reward for mining new blocks is cut in half, resulting in miners receiving 50% fewer bitcoins for verifying transactions. These halvings are pre-scheduled to take place once every 210,000 blocks, roughly every four years. This will continue until the network attains the maximum supply of 21 million bitcoins.

For traders, bitcoin halvings hold significant importance. They reduce the influx of new bitcoins into circulation, constraining the supply of available coins. This scarcity-driven dynamic has the potential to drive up prices. This is particularly true if demand for Bitcoin remains robust.

Numerous historical instances have shown periods of rapid appreciation in Bitcoin’s value. This value appreciation leads up to and follows halving events. It’s important to note that each halving unfolds within unique circumstances. The demand for bitcoin can exhibit substantial fluctuations.

Why does Bitcoin halve?

The halving mechanism in Bitcoin aims to maintain its resistance to inflation by reducing the pace at which new coins are generated. Its pseudonymous founder, Satoshi Nakamoto, established this mechanism in the 2008 white paper. Presently, 328,500 Bitcoins are produced annually, a figure that will soon decrease to 164,250.

Importance Of Bitcoin Halving

The halving process gradually reduces the issuance of bitcoins. It enhances the likelihood of Bitcoin’s value appreciation over time. This is after assuming consistent demand levels. This stands in stark contrast to fiat currencies. Fiat currencies typically depreciate in value. This is due to inflation—an example being the decreased purchasing power witnessed over decades (e.g., a dime buying a Coke in the 1960s).

In essence, halving serves as a mechanism within Bitcoin’s protocol to uphold scarcity. This trait contributes significantly to Bitcoin’s widespread appeal.

However, scarcity is not the sole factor underpinning the significance of Bitcoin halving. There are various other aspects that make it a closely monitored event.

For instance, Bitcoin’s halving tends to draw increased attention from media outlets, including outlets covering cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin, among others. The event’s prominence in headlines naturally captures the curiosity of potential investors, who may not have previously considered involvement with Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies. This surge in interest often translates into increased demand for Bitcoin. This is because both new and existing investors seek to leverage potential price fluctuations triggered by the halving.

How does Bitcoin halving work?

To comprehend the mechanics of halving, it’s crucial to grasp the essence of Bitcoin mining.

Bitcoin operates on a proof-of-work (PoW) system, which involves verifying transaction data. This process is termed “mining.” This is because it requires significant time and energy to decipher encrypted hashes. This serves as evidence of the computational work performed. Individuals participate in this system by employing computers or specialized mining rigs to join the Bitcoin network. They serve as both transaction processors and validators.

Once a block accumulates a set of transactions, it is sealed and added to a mining queue. Miners compete to solve the cryptographic puzzle embedded within the block. Upon confirming the validity of transactions within a block, miners create a new block. They are rewarded for their computational efforts.

This iterative process results in the formation of a chain of interconnected blocks. They collectively form the blockchain.

During each halving event, the reward allocated to network participants is halved. Consequently, it decelerates 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 Bitcoin Halving impact miners?

Following the impending Bitcoin Halving, the block reward granted to miners will be reduced by half, down to 3.125 BTC. This adjustment may prompt some miners to reassess the viability of Bitcoin mining operations. The diminishing block rewards may fail to cover escalating electricity expenses. This cost also includes hardware maintenance expenses.

Consequently, the mining landscape is expected to witness increased decentralization. This is because miners facing profitability challenges may opt to exit the Bitcoin mining arena. This potential exodus could lead to a decline in the overall hash rate of Bitcoin. Eventually, mining facilities are expected to shut down. Miners may migrate to alternative proof-of-work cryptocurrencies and share algorithms similar to Bitcoin. Nonetheless, the fundamental process of block generation within the ecosystem will remain unaffected. Plus, the bitcoin distribution process will remain the same. The software autonomously adapts to the difficulty of verifying transactions to ensure a consistent flow of new bitcoins.

At its core, Bitcoin halving serves not merely to reduce miners’ earnings but also as a mechanism to regulate Bitcoin’s inflation rate. Today, conventional fiat currencies are subject to arbitrary issuance by governing authorities. However, Bitcoin operates within the strict limits established by Satoshi Nakamoto. These limits ensure a finite total supply of Bitcoin. Thus safeguarding against devaluation stemming from excessive issuance. Moreover, the halving mechanism progressively diminishes the influx of new Bitcoin into circulation over time.

Bitcoin exhibits traits akin to scarce commodities like gold or palladium. However, Bitcoin’s supply reduction trajectory can be precisely forecasted unlike traditional assets. Thus offering transparency regarding the remaining quantity of Bitcoin available for mining.

When is the next Bitcoin halving?

The anticipated fourth halving event will occur in April 2024. By that time, there will be 740,000 blocks in the Bitcoin network. During this significant occurrence, the block reward is slated to decrease from 6.25 to 3.125 bitcoins. The precise date of the halving remains uncertain. This is because of the variable time required to generate new blocks. Currently, the network typically produces one block approximately every ten minutes.

Bitcoin halvings represent pivotal milestones in the cryptocurrency’s evolution. Significant block numbers chart these key events. It also coincides with substantial adjustments in block rewards. This event impacts the total number of new bitcoins generated between each occurrence. The sequence commenced with Bitcoin’s inception on January 3, 2009. The genesis block initiated a reward of 50 new BTC. Subsequent halvings occurred on November 28, 2012, July 9, 2016, and May 11, 2020, each indicating a reduction in block rewards as the network progressed. The upcoming halving is expected in 2024. It is part of a continuous series, with future halvings projected until around 2140. By 2140, all 21 million bitcoins will have been mined, shaping Bitcoin’s supply and demand dynamics trajectory.


A Bitcoin halving event occurs when the rate of new Bitcoins entering circulation is halved. This rewards system is projected to persist until the year 2140. In the year 2140, the proposed limit of 21 million bitcoins is theoretically reached.

In 2009, each mined block in the chain was rewarded 50 bitcoins. Following the first halving, this reward decreased to 25 and 12.5. It eventually decreased to 6.25 bitcoins per block as of May 11, 2020. Another halving is anticipated in April 2024.

Bitcoin’s halving holds significant implications for its network. Miners may witness a consolidation within their ranks. This is because individual miners and small operations are exiting the mining ecosystem, or else they are absorbed by larger entities.

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