Bitcoin Halving: What It Is and Why It Matters

Bitcoin Halving happens every four years. But does it have an impact on BTC's price? Here's what you need to know in order to prepare for the next halving event.

As tempting as it is to think of cryptocurrencies as digital cash, they do function quite differently than normal fiat currencies. Take Bitcoin halving, an event that plays out every few years and may affect Bitcoin’s value.

But what is Bitcoin halving? And why does it matter?

This article will help you understand the concept of Bitcoin halving, why it exists, and what it means for traders.

What Is Bitcoin Halving?

Defining Bitcoin halving is the easy part. Bitcoin halving is a process built into Bitcoin’s code that automatically halves the reward paid for verifying, validating, and adding a new transaction block to Bitcoin’s blockchain.

There have been three events so far, with the most recent event taking place on May 11, 2020. The next is estimated to occur in 2024.

Now for the more complicated part: What’s a block and what’s a blockchain? Who exactly is being rewarded and then having their rewards halved, and what does that have to do with the price of Bitcoin?

To better understand these questions, let’s take a look at some basics of how cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, work.

Bitcoin: The Network and the Coin

Bitcoin is a type of digital money (or cryptocurrency) that users may store in a digital wallet.

But it’s also a peer-to-peer network of computers running Bitcoin’s unique code. This network relies on a blockchain to create a distributed ledger that records immutable and verifiable transactions.

A blockchain comprises many individual blocks. Each contains a complete record of a series of transactions. To make sure the transactions are accurate, each block must be validated before it can be added to the chain. The validation method must also make it tamper-proof.

A key advantage of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is their lack of any governing authority, such as a government or third-party intervention.

So who, in a peer-to-peer network, validates the block as trusted? Bitcoin miners.

What Is Bitcoin Mining?

Bitcoin relies on a cryptographic technique called proof-of-work (PoW) to ensure consensus across its network for each block added. In a nutshell, the network requires participants to solve an arbitrary, complex mathematical puzzle before adding a block.

Solving the problem requires energy-intense computing power. So it sets a high threshold for participants who are also competing to be the first to solve the puzzle. This is designed to weed out nefarious actors and make it almost impossible for a bad actor to gain control of the network.

But where’s the “mining” in all this? Bitcoin offers a reward for performing this proof-of-work validation. It pays a set amount of new Bitcoins (BTC) for each block added to the network. The current reward for solving the math problem is 6.25 BTC.

Here is where we circle back to halving. That block reward is automatically halved each time 210,000 new Bitcoins have been mined. Halving will continue until Bitcoin eventually reaches its upper limit of 21 million coins.

You may rightly wonder why there is an upper limit and why halving exists. Won’t halving the reward discourage miners from doing their validation work, which is essential to the health and growth of Bitcoin’s blockchain?

Let’s look at two fundamental challenges faced by cryptocurrencies and the specific decisions Bitcoin has made to address them.

Currency Inflation and Bitcoin Halving

First, it’s important to discuss inflation’s role in all of this.

Cryptocurrencies share a challenge faced by all currencies: inflation. If a central authority prints too much money, the currency can quickly lose value, driving prices up to compensate. This is especially problematic for currencies with no limit on how much money can be in circulation.

Bitcoin has elected to set a limit on how much of it can ever be produced — the previously mentioned 21 million coins. In theory, this means that, over time, it should be able to hold onto its value, perhaps even increase.

Bitcoin halving is another way of warding off inflation and the resulting devaluation of Bitcoin. If too many Bitcoins are mined too quickly, this could undermine its value. By halving the reward, Bitcoin taps the brakes lightly on mining new Bitcoin.

Bitcoin also has a gas pedal in its arsenal, in case mining were to slow down too quickly. Just as reducing the Bitcoin reward lowers the incentive to mine, reducing the difficulty of the math problem — and therefore the energy required to solve it — can raise the incentive.

That’s the theory, at least. Let’s take a look at some of the effects Bitcoin halving has had in the real world.

What Does Halving Do?

In theory, halving should help increase the value of Bitcoin because it slows the growth of the amount being created. Historically, this seems to have held up.

For instance, in the year following the 2012 halving, Bitcoin’s price soared from roughly $12 to over $1,200. After the 2016 halving, it went on a wild ride from $647, almost hitting $20,000, before settling down to over $3,000.

The 2020 halving saw a subsequent increase from just under $9,000 to over $40,000, after flirting with the $70,000 mark for a bit. No wonder halving events generate so much excitement and speculation — at least for traders!

But what about miners? Anything that drives up the value of Bitcoin will benefit miners that are paid in Bitcoin and may be holding on to it. However, having your compensation slashed in half is obviously not all good news.

Some individual or small group miners might find it harder to stay in the game after a halving. But Bitcoin is counting on a potential silver lining to help: The more the network grows and is used, the more transaction fees — another source of income for miners — will increase.

It’s important, though, to remember that there are factors at play influencing the value of Bitcoin besides the number of coins being produced. Other crypto market forces, the general economic climate, and even geopolitical events can all push and pull on Bitcoin pricing.

Another factor to consider is the maturing of the crypto universe. There are many more cryptocurrencies available now. Traders may be getting better at anticipating the effects of future halving events and price them into their trading in advance.

If you are considering buying Bitcoin or already have, you will want to pay close attention to halving events, as they can spur remarkable volatility and dynamic price changes.

Note: The next halving event should happen in 2024, so you’ve time to plan.

The End of Bitcoin Halving

Halving functions can, in theory, go on forever. So, even though there are already roughly 19 million Bitcoin created, getting to the final 21 million will take a while as the production of them is continually slowed. Current estimates place hitting 21 million as a year 2140 event.

When this limit is reached, there’ll be no more need for halving. And, in theory, a block reward for validating transactions and adding blocks will cease. The incentive will have to rest totally on the profitability of transaction fees.

Will miners still mine for the reward of transaction fees alone? There’s no way to tell. But none of us will be around in 2140 to find out.

Why Care About the Next Halving?

Buying Bitcoin can be a valid part of a crypto strategy. But, as with all strategies, turning it into action requires regularly monitoring changing circumstances. For example, halving events have a high likelihood of driving significant change.

So once you’ve worked out your overall investment strategy and how Bitcoin fits into it, you’ll want to keep abreast of potential impacts from these events.

With a deeper understanding of what they are, you’ll be in a better position to decide how you’ll want to plan for them.

How to Buy Bitcoin on Binance.US

While Bitcoin halving is a ways off, it’s important to find the right crypto platform on which to buy, hold, and sell all of your digital assets.

Make sure the platform you choose secures your personal information, offers a wide selection of cryptocurrencies, has low trading fees, and provides automation for buying or selling to make it easier to execute your plan.

It’s also important to partner with a crypto platform, like Binance.US, that has experience, knowledge, and insight on all things crypto.

Binance.US makes it easy for you to get going — and keep going — with crypto.

Simply:

  1. Create your free account on Binance.US.
  2. Fund your account via bank account (ACH), debit card, or wire transfer.
  3. Complete your Bitcoin purchase by deciding when to buy.

For step-by-step instructions, learn how to Create and Verify Your Account. No matter what your crypto goals are, Binance.US is here to help.

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Legal disclaimer: This material has been prepared for general informational purposes only and should NOT be: (1) considered an individualized recommendation or advice; and (2) relied upon for any investment activities. All information is provided on an as-is basis and is subject to change without notice, we make no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, validity, reliability, availability or completeness of any such information. Binance.US does NOT provide investment, legal, or tax advice in any manner or form. The ownership of any investment decision(s) exclusively vests with you after analyzing all possible risk factors and by exercising your own independent discretion. Binance.US shall not be liable for any consequences thereof.

Risk warning: Buying, selling, and holding cryptocurrencies are activities that are subject to high market risk. The volatile and unpredictable nature of the price of cryptocurrencies may result in a significant loss. Binance.US is not responsible for any loss that you may incur from price fluctuations when you buy, sell, or hold cryptocurrencies. Please refer to our Terms of Use for more information.

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