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What is the Bitcoin halving?

Gear Up for Bitcoin's Next Big Moment: The 2024 Halving" - Discover what this event means for Bitcoin and how it could affect you.

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Get ready for the next great Bitcoin halving: everything you need to know

Before Bitcoin was launched in 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto designed the cryptocurrency to have a maximum supply of 21 million coins. As part of the greater plan, the number of new Bitcoin that enter circulation decreases at regular intervals, thus maintaining the total supply. These intervals are known as halvings, which we’ll get more into below. 

What is the Bitcoin halving?

Roughly every 4 years, or every 210,000 blocks that are mined, the network undergoes a halving where the block reward for miners is reduced by 50%. This reward is earned for verifying transactions and adding a new block to the blockchain. 

The halvings process decreases the rate at which new Bitcoins enter circulation, gradually depleting the remaining supply until the final satoshi is mined, expected to be around 2140. After that, miners will solely rely on transaction fees as an incentive to validate blocks.

Bitcoin having history

The next Bitcoin halving is expected to take place in April 2024, when the mining reward will reduce from 6.25 BTC to 3.125 BTC. 

Why does the halving occur?

The Bitcoin halving is pre-programmed into Bitcoin's core code and is not something that can be changed - it's set in stone. Designed to control and slow down the release of new Bitcoins over time results in fewer and fewer Bitcoin being minted after each halving event. 

This limited supply is a key part of what gives Bitcoin its deflationary nature and potential for increasing value. As the supply is capped at 21 million, the dwindling new supply hitting the market reinforces Bitcoin's artificial scarcity.

Previous Bitcoin halvings

Below we look at previous halvings and how these affected the price of Bitcoin. Historically, 12 - 18 months after halvings, Bitcoin has reached a record high. While this is not the rule of thumb, it has certainly been witnessed. 

2009 - Bitcoin launches

Date: 3 January 2009

Block reward: 50 BTC

2012 - Bitcoin’s first halving

Date: 28 November 2012

Block: 210,000

Block reward: 25 BTC

Price before halving (November 2012): Around $12

Next all-time high after halving: $1,156 (November 2013)

2016 - Bitcoin’s second halving

Date: 9 July 2016

Block: 420,000

Block reward: 12.5 BTC

Price before halving (July 2016): Around $650

Next all-time High after halving: $19,891 (December 2017)

2020 - Bitcoin’s third halving

Date: 11 May 2020

Block: 630,000

Block reward: 6.25 BTC

Price before halving (May 2020): Around $8,800

Next all-time high after halving: $69,000 (November 2021)

Taking a look at the future dates, the next halving is expected to take place in 2024, when the block reward will be reduced to 3.125 BTC. Thereafter, in 2028 (block reward 1.5625 BTC) and 2032 (block reward 0.78125). This will continue until all Bitcoins have been mined, expected to be in 2140. 

Potential impacts of the upcoming halving

The next Bitcoin halving event is expected to have several potential impacts on the cryptocurrency. First and foremost, it will reduce the supply of new Bitcoins entering circulation by 50%, substantially decreasing the inflation rate. This scheduled supply rate reduction enhances Bitcoin's hardcoded scarcity which could lead to increased demand if investors view reduced supply as more desirable. Higher demand coupled with tightened supply could potentially drive up Bitcoin's price.

However, the halving will also cut block rewards for miners by 50%, which could force some smaller mining operations to shut down if their expenses outweigh newly reduced revenues. This may result in mining becoming less decentralised as larger entities with greater economies of scale are able to continue operating profitably. This could lead to further consolidation of the mining hashrate among a smaller number of big players.

Regardless of price movement, the 2024 halving will continue Bitcoin's disinflationary issuance schedule until the final Bitcoin is mined around 2140. This systematically dwindling supply reinforces one of Bitcoin's key value propositions as a deflationary asset with absolute scarcity built in by design.

The bottom line

The Bitcoin halving is a highly significant event worth learning about as it enforces the cryptocurrency's hardcoded disinflationary monetary policy. While past halvings have led to powerful bull markets and substantial price appreciation, as illustrated above, it's important to understand that future price movements remain unpredictable and cannot be relied on. 

Bitcoin's value is influenced by a complex array of factors beyond just supply dynamics, including adoption rates, regulatory developments, and overall market sentiment. Though artificially constrained supply can increase scarcity, demand is ultimately the driving force behind long-term valuations.


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