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What is Bitcoin Halving and Its History

by MarketMillion
What is Bitcoin Halving and Its History

Bitcoin halving is one of the most anticipated events in the cryptocurrency world. It occurs every 4 years and limits the supply of new bitcoins introduced into circulation. This built-in scarcity is a key reason why Bitcoin has value.

In this article, we’ll explain what Bitcoin halving is and walk through its history so far. We’ll also discuss how halvings impact the price of bitcoin.

What is Bitcoin Halving?

Bitcoin halving refers to the Bitcoin halving 2024 when the reward for mining new blocks is cut in half. This event happens roughly every 4 years and is hardcoded into Bitcoin’s code.

Here are some key things to know:

  • When Bitcoin first launched in 2009, miners received 50 BTC for each block mined.
  • The first halving occurred in November 2012, reducing the mining reward to 25 BTC per block.
  • The second halving took place in July 2016, cutting the reward to 12.5 BTC.
  • The next halving is estimated to happen in May 2024, reducing the block reward to 6.25 BTC.

Halvings will continue approximately every 4 years until the maximum supply of 21 million bitcoins is reached, projected to occur around 2140. At that point, miners will be incentivized by transaction fees rather than new Bitcoin rewards.

Why Does Bitcoin Halve?

Halving the block reward is central to how Bitcoin controls its supply and achieves scarcity. When originally designing Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto implemented this halving protocol to:

  • Provide a steady, predictable supply of new bitcoins until the maximum limit is reached
  • Make bitcoin scarce and deflationary as the supply tapers off over time
  • Offset the effect of lost coins and ensure the ultimate supply stays below 21 million

The controlled supply inflation also prevents Bitcoin value from spiraling out of control during the initial growth phase.

History of Bitcoin Halvings

There have been two halvings so far:

Bitcoin Halving 2012

The first halving took place on November 28, 2012. The mining reward dropped from 50 new bitcoins per block to 25. At the time, Bitcoin was still relatively unknown and traded around $12. The halving went largely unnoticed.

After the halving, the price of bitcoin steadily rose to reach highs of $1,000 by late 2013 during the famous “Silk Road” bubble. The halving likely played a role in propelling this bull run by reducing supply inflation. You can view the Bitcoin price chart for this period online.

Bitcoin Halving 2016

The second halving occurred on July 9, 2016. The mining reward declined from 25 new bitcoins per block to 12.5.

By this point, Bitcoin was a much bigger deal in finance and technology circles. The halving generated more hype than the first.

The price at the time was around $650. It climbed to nearly $20,000 by the end of 2017 as bitcoin went mainstream. The reduced supply following this halving was a catalyst for bitcoin’s parabolic price surge.

Upcoming Bitcoin Halving 2024

The next halving is expected on May 6th, 2024. The block reward will fall to just 6.25 new BTC released every 10 minutes.

Based on previous events, many investors expect the halving to kickstart another bull market. Some price models forecast bitcoin reaching $500,000 or more in the months and years after halving day. However, a price increase is never guaranteed.

Here is a summary of the halving dates and block mining rewards over time:

HalvingDateBlock RewardBTC Price
FirstNovember 28, 201225 BTC~$12
SecondJuly 9, 201612.5 BTC~$650
ThirdMay 6, 2024 (Estimated)6.25 BTC?
Fourth2028 (Estimated)3.125 BTC?

After 32 halvings, likely in the year 2140, the maximum supply of 21 million bitcoins will be mined. Block rewards and new BTC creation will end.

How Does the Halving Affect Bitcoin Price?

Halving events tend to exert upward pressure on Bitcoin prices over the long term. Here are some of the key theories:

  • Reduced Supply Inflation – The rate new bitcoins enter circulation is cut in half, acting as a supply shock to the market. All else equal, constrained supply can drive up prices if demand stays constant or increases.
  • Increased Scarcity – The halving marks another step towards eventual scarcity when the 21 million coin limit is hit. Investors may price in this increasing scarcity.
  • Production Costs Stay Constant – While mining output is cut in half, operating expenses for miners remain the same. This squeezes their profit margins and incentivizes some miners to shut off rigs when revenue falls below cost. The resulting hash rate drop can make the network more secure and more scarce.
  • Halving as Price Anchor – The regular timing of halvings (every 4 years) provides a predictable schedule for Bitcoin’s controlled supply inflation. Investors may have more confidence in Bitcoin’s long term value due to this predictability.
  • ** Buzz and Hype** – Influencers, traders, and bitcoin enthusiasts tend to hype up the narrative around each halving. This buzz can attract new investors and drive demand.

However, the halving effect is far from assured. For any given halving, unforeseen circumstances in Bitcoin markets or the economy as a whole can override these supply dynamics and suppress the price. The third halving in 2024 will be the next great test of the halving effect theory.

FAQs

What is the Bitcoin halving?

The Bitcoin halving is an event where the block reward for mining new Bitcoin blocks is cut in half. This happens approximately every 4 years and is programmed into Bitcoin’s code.

When is the next Bitcoin halving?

The next Bitcoin halving is estimated to occur in May 2024. This will be the third halving event, reducing the block reward from 12.5 BTC currently to 6.25 BTC.

Why does Bitcoin halve?

Bitcoin is designed to have a finite supply of 21 million coins. The halving slows down the rate of supply inflation as Bitcoin nears its maximum supply. It helps maintain Bitcoin’s scarcity and value.

How often do Bitcoin halvings happen?

Bitcoin halvings take place approximately every 4 years. This is after 210,000 blocks have been mined on the network. There is no set date – the halving occurs automatically when the 210,000 block milestone is reached.

How many Bitcoin halvings will there be?

Based on Bitcoin’s code, there will be a total of 32 Bitcoin halvings. After the 32nd halving likely around 2140, the block reward will drop to zero and no more new Bitcoin will be created.

Conclusion

Bitcoin halving is a key event coded into the network that limits block rewards over time. Every 210,000 blocks, or about every 4 years, the mining reward per block is cut in half. This will continue until the 21 million bitcoin cap is reached.

So far, the previous halvings were important milestones that reduced supply inflation and propelled new bull runs. But past performance does not guarantee future results. The next halving in 2024 will be closely watched to see if the pattern continues.

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