Bitcoin Halving Explained: What Investors Need to Know [2024]

written by
Paul Niklaus
SEO & Organic Growth
Reviewed by
Peter Schöllauf
Blockchain Lead
Last Updated:
July 12, 2024

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  • Bitcoin halving reduces the reward for mining, affecting supply and potentially increasing value.
  • Halving events, occurring approximately every four years, have historically been followed by price surges.
  • The next Bitcoin Halving occurs on April 20, 2024. It will decrease the block reward to 3.125 BTC, influencing supply and demand dynamics.
Table of Contents

Bitcoin halvings are a pivotal event in the Bitcoin ecosystem that significantly impacts its supply, demand, and price. In this guide, we'll delve into the nuances of Bitcoin Halving, its historical context, economic implications, and what it means for investors like you.

Bitcoin Basics

Bitcoin is the world's first decentralized digital currency. Unlike traditional currencies, Bitcoin operates on a peer-to-peer network, devoid of central authority, thanks to blockchain technology. 

This innovative technology ensures security, transparency, and immutability by recording all transactions across a network of computers. Each transaction is verified by network nodes through cryptography and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain. 

Learn more about Bitcoin in our complete guide: What is Bitcoin and how does it work? 

What is Bitcoin Mining?

Bitcoin mining is a crucial process at the very center of the proof-of-work blockchain. The mining process confirms transactions to the rest of the network, maintaining Bitcoin's trustless nature. 

Miners use specialized hardware to solve complex cryptographic puzzles in order to confirm transactions and create a new block in the blockchain. 

The first miner to solve each puzzle is rewarded with newly minted bitcoins and transaction fees from the block they've validated and added to the blockchain. This incentivizes miners to contribute computational power, ensuring the network's decentralization and security. 

The rewards are crucial as they not only motivate miners to keep the network secure but also control the supply of new bitcoins, reflecting the digital currency's deflationary design.

Mining is a very interesting concept that has solved crucial problems related to digital currencies.

What is Bitcoin Halving?

Bitcoin halving is a programmed event in the Bitcoin network that halves the reward given to miners for processing transactions and adding new blocks to the blockchain. 

Occurring approximately every four years, or after 210,000 blocks have been mined (it takes about 10 minutes to mine a block), this event reduces the rate at which new bitcoins are generated. 

The primary purpose of halving is to control Bitcoin's supply, ensuring it remains finite with a maximum cap of 21 million coins. 

Halving affects Bitcoin by potentially increasing its value over time due to the reduced supply of new coins entering the market, aligning with the principles of supply and demand. 

This event is essential to Bitcoin's deflationary nature, making it an intriguing asset that mimics the scarcity properties of precious metals like gold.

How Does Bitcoin Halving Happen?

The halving event is automatically triggered by the Bitcoin network once 210,000 blocks have been mined since the last halving. This count is embedded within the Bitcoin protocol and can not be changed without forking the Bitcoin blockchain and creating a new cryptocurrency. 

The History of Bitcoin Halvings

Three Bitcoin halvings have occurred since Bitcoin’s inception in 2009.

The first halving occurred on November 28, 2012, when the block reward was reduced from 50 to 25 Bitcoins. This event was followed by a notable increase in Bitcoin's price, a pattern that has been observed with subsequent halvings. 

The second halving took place on July 9, 2016, reducing the reward to 12.5 Bitcoins, and was again followed by a significant price surge in the following year.

The most recent, the third halving, occurred on May 11, 2020, further reducing the reward to 6.25 Bitcoins. 

Each halving event has led to speculative anticipation, increased media attention, and considerable price volatility leading up to and following the event.

<figure class="block-table">
   <th>Block Reward</th>
   <th>Value One Month Prior</th>
   <th>Value One Year After</th>
   <td>Introduction of Bitcoin</td>
   <td>January 3, 2009</td>
   <td>50 new BTC</td>
   <td>First Halving</td>
   <td>November 28, 2012</td>
   <td>25 new BTC</td>
   <td>Second Halving</td>
   <td>July 9, 2016</td>
   <td>12.5 new BTC</td>
   <td>Third Halving</td>
   <td>May 11, 2020</td>
   <td>6.25 new BTC</td>

When is the next Bitcoin Halving?

The next Bitcoin halving is expected on April 20, 2024 after block 740,000 has been mined. It will reduce the block reward from 6.25 BTC to 3.125 BTC.

This will be the fourth halving in Bitcoin history. The fifth halving is expected to occur in 2028, after block 850,000 has been mined.

Overview of All Bitcoin Halvings

Bitcoin halving rewards vs. total bitcoin in existence vs. monetary inflation

<figure class="block-table">
       <th>Block Reward</th>
       <th>Total BTC Mined</th>
       <th>New BTC Mined</th>
       <th>% of All BTC Mined</th>
<figcaption>Some values have been rounded up to fit into this table.</figcaption>

Economic Effects of Halving on Bitcoin

Bitcoin halving effect on Bitcoin value

The economic effects of Bitcoin halving are profound, underscoring its deflationary design and impact on market dynamics. 

Historically, halving events have been correlated with bullish trends in Bitcoin's price. This pattern is primarily due to the reduced pace at which new Bitcoins are created, tightening supply at a time when demand either remains steady or increases. 

Such scarcity can enhance Bitcoin's appeal as a digital store of value, drawing comparisons to precious metals like gold. Moreover, the anticipation and speculation surrounding these events often fuel market activity and investor interest, further influencing price movements. 

This cyclical interaction between halving events and market dynamics underscores the intricate balance of supply and demand in Bitcoin's economy, reinforcing its position as a compelling investment vehicle in the broader financial landscape.

We’re taking a closer look at the way halving events influence market dynamics in our expert guide: Is now a good time to buy crypto?

How Halving Influences Bitcoin’s Supply and Demand

Bitcoin halving directly impacts its supply by reducing the rate at which new coins are generated, creating a scarcity effect. This scarcity can lead to increased demand if Bitcoin's adoption and investor interest continue to grow. 

Consequently, the relationship between halving and Bitcoin’s price is significant, as past events have often preceded price increases, reflecting the classic economic principle of supply and demand dynamics, and making Bitcoin one of the best crypto to buy in 2024.

What Happens After the Last Bitcoin Halving Event in 2140?

The last Bitcoin halving event is expected to occur around the year 2140, marking the end of new Bitcoin issuance with the 21,000,000th Bitcoin being mined. 

The network will transition to relying entirely on transaction fees as the incentive for miners. The long-term effects on Bitcoin's price, security, and role in the global financial system remain subjects of speculation and depend on various factors, including technological developments and broader economic conditions.

How to Prepare for a Halving Event

Strategies for Investors:

  • Research and Analysis: Stay informed about the timing of upcoming halving events and historical price movements surrounding past halvings. Analyze market trends, investor sentiment, and broader economic indicators that might influence Bitcoin's price.
  • Portfolio Diversification: Consider diversifying your investment portfolio to mitigate risks associated with Bitcoin's volatility. While halving may lead to price increases, it is not guaranteed, and diversification can help protect your investments.
  • Long-Term Perspective: Adopt a long-term investment strategy. Bitcoin's price can be highly volatile in the short term but has shown significant growth over the long term, especially following halving events.
  • Risk Management: Set clear investment goals and risk tolerance levels. Use stop-loss orders and only invest what you can afford to lose, as cryptocurrency markets can be unpredictable.

What Miners Need to Know Before and After a Halving:

  • Efficiency Upgrades: Prior to a halving, assess and possibly upgrade your mining hardware to more energy-efficient models. This can help maintain profitability as block rewards decrease.
  • Cost Analysis: Evaluate your operational costs, including electricity and maintenance. With reduced rewards, lower-cost operations will be better positioned to remain profitable.
  • Strategic Planning: Develop a strategy for the halving event. This could include holding onto mined bitcoins in anticipation of a price increase or adjusting your mining setup to remain competitive.

Common Misconceptions About Bitcoin Halving

Common misconceptions about Bitcoin halving often stem from misunderstandings of its impact on the Bitcoin network and the broader cryptocurrency market. Here are some of the most prevalent ones:

Halving Results in Immediate Price Increases

Many believe that the price of Bitcoin will immediately increase following a halving. While historical trends have shown price increases following halvings, these gains have not always been instantaneous and are influenced by a wide range of factors beyond just the halving event.

Halving is Already Priced In

On the opposing view, many think that the Bitcoin halving is already priced in. While some anticipation of the halving may be factored into Bitcoin's price, the complexity of market dynamics and external factors suggests that the entire impact of the halving might not be fully accounted for in advance.

Halving Will Lead to Miner Exodus

There's a misconception that the reduction in block rewards will make mining unprofitable, leading to a mass exodus of miners. In reality, adjustments in mining difficulty and improvements in mining technology can help sustain miners' profitability, and the network is designed to adjust to maintain operational stability.

Halving Will Cause Transaction Fees to Skyrocket

Some expect transaction fees to significantly increase as miners' rewards from block rewards decrease. However, fees are determined by network demand and the space available in blocks, and while they may increase, the change is not solely dependent on halving events.

Halving Guarantees Bitcoin's Long-term Value

While halving is designed to reduce Bitcoin's inflation rate over time and potentially increase its scarcity, it's not a guaranteed mechanism for value appreciation. Bitcoin's value is influenced by many factors, including regulatory changes, market sentiment, and technological advancements.

Halving is Unique to Bitcoin

While Bitcoin was the first to implement a halving mechanism, it's not unique in this aspect. Other cryptocurrencies have since adopted similar mechanisms to control the inflation of their tokens.

Bitcoin Halving Source Code

This code snippet is a function from the Bitcoin source code that calculates the block subsidy (the amount of new bitcoins created and awarded to the miner of a new block) based on the height of the block being added to the blockchain. 

Here's a step-by-step explanation of what this function does:

  • Function Signature: CAmount GetBlockSubsidy(int nHeight, const Consensus::Params& consensusParams) defines a function that returns the block subsidy as a CAmount (a type representing an amount of currency) based on the block's height (nHeight) and the consensus parameters (consensusParams).
  • Calculate Halvings: It calculates the number of halvings that have occurred up to the given block height by dividing the block height by the halving interval (consensusParams.nSubsidyHalvingInterval). The halving interval is a value that specifies how many blocks are mined before the block subsidy is halved, typically 210,000 blocks.
  • Zero Reward Condition: It checks if the number of halvings is 64 or more. If so, the function returns 0, meaning no new bitcoins are generated for this block. This check is important because the block subsidy cannot be halved more than 64 times due to the limit of Bitcoin's total supply and the way binary shifting works in computer arithmetic.
  • Initial Subsidy: Sets the initial block subsidy to 50 bitcoins (50 * COIN). COIN is a constant that represents the number of base units in one bitcoin (e.g., 100 million satoshis in one bitcoin).
  • Halve the Subsidy: It applies the halving logic by right-shifting the initial subsidy by the number of halvings. The right shift operation (>>) effectively halves the subsidy for each halving that has occurred.
  • Return the Subsidy: Finally, the function returns the calculated subsidy for the given block height. This is the amount of new bitcoins awarded to the miner of the block.

The Future of Bitcoin Halvings

The future of Bitcoin halvings continues to be a subject of intense speculation and analysis within the cryptocurrency community. Predictive models and theories abound, with many focusing on the potential long-term price implications and the impact on mining profitability. 

As the reward for mining Bitcoin transactions diminishes, the incentive structure for miners will inevitably shift, possibly leading to greater reliance on transaction fees. This transition could affect network security and transaction processing times. 

Moreover, as the supply of new bitcoins decreases, the scarcity principle suggests a positive impact on Bitcoin's value, assuming demand remains steady or increases. 

The long-term implications for the Bitcoin ecosystem include potential shifts in investor behavior, mining practices, and the overall market dynamics, making each halving event a pivotal moment in Bitcoin's ongoing development and maturation as a digital asset.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for general information purposes only. The information was completed to the best of our knowledge and does not claim either correctness or accuracy. For detailed information on crypto regulations, we recommend contacting a certified legal advisor in the respective country.

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