What is Bitcoin halving? Why is it important for cryptocurrency investors?

By December 14, 2020December 16th, 2020No Comments
Bitcoin Halving: What You Need to Know - WazirX

You may have heard of something called a Bitcoin ‘halving’ occurring this year. In May 2020, Bitcoin went through its third halving, and its reward value dropped from 12.5 to 6.25 BTC per block mined. This essentially means that the reward for mining a block was cut in half yet again. 

But how does this work?

In a centralized economy, the central bank is responsible for controlling the supply of money. However, in the case of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, there is no such centralized authority to control its monetary base. This necessitates that Bitcoin as a cryptocurrency must have its own mechanism to ensure a controlled supply. 

This is where the concept of Bitcoin halving (or ‘halvening’) comes in. After every 210,000 blocks that are mined, the reward awarded to miners for every block gets halved. As a result, new bitcoins are released into circulation at only half the rate as compared to before that. (This is distinct from a coin burn – a mechanism that other cryptocurrencies apply to manage inflation)

Therefore, this controlled release of bitcoins helps maintain a synthetic form of Bitcoin inflation. This halving would continue till all the bitcoins have entered circulation, and after that, miners would be rewarded with the fee that network users will pay for processing transactions.

Why is Bitcoin Halving Important for Cryptocurrency Investors?

Is there any significance of this phenomenon for cryptocurrency investors? This is easier to understand when we notice the patterns that are set off by a halving event. When a halving occurs, bitcoins’ supply decreases, and the consequent higher demand leads to a rise in Bitcoin prices. And quite clearly, Bitcoin halvings in the past have resulted in a dramatic rise in Bitcoin prices, only to drop later. Let’s have a look.

  • The First Halving 

In November 2012, the first Bitcoin halving took place, halving the reward for mining from 50 to 25 BTC. The consequent effect on the prices saw a surge of about 8000% in the year that followed.

  • The Second Halving

The second such event occurred in July 2016 when the reward was halved from 25 to 12.5 BTC, and as a result, Bitcoin prices surged by nearly 1000%.

  • The Third Halving

The events of May 2020 have again led to an all-time high in Bitcoin prices, nearly reaching $20,000 in November 2020.

Bitcoin (BTC) Halving History With Charts & Dates
Source: Coin Metrics Network Data Pro via Investopedia

Therefore, crypto investors can make use of this knowledge in various ways. Understanding the market fluctuations – price rise followed by a drop – is important for anyone who intends to make gains from these market movements. At the same time, it is also important to understand the effects of other global situations, such as the ongoing pandemic, to figure out whether all halvings will necessarily result in similar price movements. 

For bitcoin miners, understanding the halving of the mining reward with respect to increasing value is essential. For example, if the third halving was expected to reduce the Bitcoin inflation rate from 3.6% to 1.8%, then these changes are relevant to how the gains would be calculated. The operational costs of mining, such as hardware, electricity, etc., are estimated at $6,851 by Bitcoin.com. This corresponds to a 30% margin because 70% of the block rewards would have to be sold to cover the operational costs. So if the halvings push up the Bitcoin price but not by much, then it is not a great investment for miners (while being great for investors).

For new investors, Bitcoin halving presents a great opportunity to understand the cryptocurrency domain and begin making investments.

Conclusion

Crypto investors, particularly those holding Bitcoins for sufficient duration to make gains, can benefit greatly from such halvings. For a volatile asset, such a pattern that has occurred thrice so far seems fairly consistent. 

With the next halving expected in another 4 years, it remains to be seen whether the price-boost pattern is set in stone or simply happens to coincide with other market forces.

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