The Blog

What Does Bitcoin Halving Mean – And Why It’s the Talk of the Crypto World?

Apr 22, 2024 | Investors, TEA Insights

By Joseph Vambe

Bitcoin is a digital currency, meaning it exists solely in electronic form. It was designed to offer an alternative to traditional currencies, which are regulated by governments and involve intermediaries in transactions, such as banks. Bitcoin transactions are verified by network nodes through cryptography and recorded on the publicly accessible blockchain. 

Unlike traditional currencies, Bitcoin has a cap on its supply, creating a finite limit to how many can ever exist: 21 million Bitcoins. This scarcity is an intentional design to prevent inflation, which often plagues traditional currencies and can diminish their buying power. 

The process of generating new Bitcoins and validating transactions is called mining. Miners use powerful computers to solve complex mathematical problems that validate groups of transactions (called blocks). Upon solving these problems, the miner is rewarded with newly minted Bitcoins. This not only facilitates the creation of new Bitcoins but also secures the network and verifies transactions, a critical process that prevents fraud such as double-spending. 

Bitcoin halving is a significant event hardcoded into the network that reduces the number of Bitcoins miners receive as a reward by half. This event occurs approximately every four years, or after 210,000 blocks are mined. Halving is a crucial mechanism that controls the supply of new Bitcoins into circulation and is one of the factors that ensures Bitcoin remains a deflationary asset. 

The concept of halving leads us to the crux of its necessity: to slow down the creation of new Bitcoins, ensuring they aren’t produced too quickly as this keeps inflation in check and maintains scarcity, theoretically preserving the cryptocurrency’s value. As of now, over 19 million Bitcoins have been mined, and as we approach the cap of 21 million, the process of mining becomes more challenging and less rewarding, making each Bitcoin potentially more valuable due to its limited nature. 

The phenomenon of Bitcoin halving is pivotal within the cryptocurrency community, primarily because it influences the currency’s supply and, potentially, its price. The ‘halving’ reduces the rewards that miners receive for completing “blocks” of verified transactions which are added to the blockchain. Initially, the reward was 50 Bitcoins per block, but after the 2024 halving, it will be just 3.125 Bitcoins per block. 

This reduction in rewards means that fewer new Bitcoins are generated, which slows down the rate of Bitcoin creation. This is significant because it mimics the extraction of a natural resource which becomes harder and more expensive to obtain over time, an economic strategy known as stock-to-flow model. 

Bitcoin’s halving is essential for several reasons: 

  1. Controlled Supply: The main purpose of halving is to control the inflation of Bitcoin by reducing the rate at which new coins enter circulation. This controlled supply is meant to prevent the devaluation of Bitcoin over time, an issue commonly faced by traditional fiat currencies controlled by governmental monetary policies.
  2. Increased Scarcity: Halving increases Bitcoin’s scarcity. Economic theory suggests that if demand remains constant while supply decreases, the price should increase. This principle makes halving an event of substantial interest as it could potentially increase Bitcoin’s value, assuming demand stays steady or grows.

  3. Investor Interest: Each halving event has historically led to an increase in Bitcoin’s price, although the extent and timing of these increases can vary. The anticipation of higher prices post-halving has attracted both casual and serious investors trying to capitalize on these potential gains.

Looking at historical data, significant price increases have occurred in the 12 to 18 months following past halvings: 

The 2012 halving was followed by a 9,000% rally. 

The 2016 halving preceded a 2,900% rally. 

The 2020 halving saw a 600% increase, albeit after a substantial delay. 

These figures highlight why many in the crypto community view halving with optimism, seeing it as a launchpad for bull runs. 

However, it’s crucial to approach these statistics with caution. Critics argue that while halvings decrease supply, they also reduce the incentive for miners to secure the network, potentially making Bitcoin less secure. Moreover, the impact of halving may already be priced in by the time the event occurs, a theory supported by the efficient market hypothesis. 

Furthermore, external economic factors such as regulatory changes, macroeconomic trends, and technological advancements play a substantial role in determining Bitcoin’s price. Therefore, while halving is an important event, it is not the sole driver of Bitcoin’s market behaviour. 

The impact of Bitcoin halving extends beyond just the potential rise in Bitcoin’s price; it influences the entire cryptocurrency market and investor sentiment. Post-halving, the reduced reward for mining Bitcoin may cause some miners to switch to more profitable cryptocurrencies, affecting their prices and possibly leading to increased volatility across the market. Moreover, as Bitcoin’s issuance rate decreases, other coins might come under the spotlight, providing diverse investment opportunities. 

Investing in Bitcoin around a halving event requires careful consideration due to the inherent volatility and speculative nature of cryptocurrencies. Here are key factors investors should consider: 

Market Dynamics: Understanding the basic principles of supply and demand is crucial. While halving cuts supply, whether demand will rise sufficiently to push up prices is uncertain and can be influenced by broader economic factors. 

Historical Trends: While past performance is not indicative of future results, historical trends post-halving can offer valuable insights. Notably, significant price increases have generally been observed months after previous halvings. 

Risk Management: Due to Bitcoin’s price volatility, especially around halving events, investors should consider risk management strategies. These might include setting stop-loss orders, diversifying investments across different assets, or allocating only a portion of investment capital to Bitcoin. 

Long-Term Perspective: Given the delayed price increases historically associated with halvings, a long-term investment horizon may be beneficial. Investors willing to hold investments for years—as opposed to seeking quick profits—might be better positioned to benefit from potential post-halving gains. 

Investors should also be aware of several challenges: 

Miner Capitulation: If the new mining rewards are too low to cover operational costs, miners might exit the network, potentially increasing transaction times and affecting network security until the difficulty adjustment algorithm kicks in. 

Regulatory Landscape: Cryptocurrencies are increasingly subject to regulatory scrutiny. Changes in regulations can have unpredictable effects on the market. 

Technological Advances: Developments such as the implementation of the proof-of-stake model in other cryptocurrencies offer a greener alternative to Bitcoin’s energy-intensive proof-of-work model, potentially making Bitcoin less attractive environmentally. 

Economic Conditions: Global economic factors, including interest rates, inflation, and financial crises, can significantly impact investment markets, including cryptocurrencies. 

The upcoming Bitcoin halving is a landmark event that could potentially lead to lucrative investment opportunities. However, it comes with its set of risks and uncertainties. Investors should conduct thorough research, consider diversifying their investment portfolio, and stay informed about global economic and regulatory changes affecting cryptocurrencies. 

Ultimately, while the halving is expected to decrease supply—and perhaps increase prices—the true impact will depend on a variety of factors including market demand, miner responses, and broader economic conditions. As with any investment, there is no guaranteed outcome, and thus proceeding with caution and a well-thought-out strategy is advisable. 

Join TEA! Let's shape the financial inclusion agenda together by facilitating inclusive investor engagement. Sign up now for FREE!

Join us

Sign up to our newsletter to stay up to date