Bitcoin last halved in 2020 - but when will it halve again and what does it mean for the price & future of Bitcoin? Find out in our complete guide to Bitcoin halving ✂️
Bitcoin halving refers to the automated process which halves Bitcoin rewards for Bitcoin miners, approximately every four years, or every 210,000 blocks.
To fully understand why Bitcoin halves, the benefits, and what it means for Bitcoin there are a couple of key concepts we need to cover first.
Bitcoin is a proof-of-work blockchain. This means Bitcoin miners solve complex mathematical puzzles in order to validate transactions and create new blocks on the Bitcoin blockchain. They’re rewarded for doing so in Bitcoin.
As well as this, Bitcoin has a fixed supply. This means there will only ever be a given number of Bitcoin in circulation - specifically, 21 million. At the time of writing, there are 19.3 million Bitcoin in circulation - leaving just over 2 million Bitcoin left to mine.
Bitcoin halving was written into Bitcoin's mining algorithm to maintain scarcity and increase value. Every 210,000 blocks, the rewards Bitcoin miners receive for mining Bitcoins are halved - so miners receive 50% less for verifying Bitcoin transactions after each Bitcoin halving.
At a basic level - Bitcoin halving makes Bitcoin more scarce and, theoretically, therefore more valuable. So the reward is halved, the inflation is halved, there's lower available supply and therefore higher demand and a higher price. This helps Bitcoin miners remain incentivized to mine as although the rewards are smaller, the value of Bitcoin is higher.
If you’re asking why the Bitcoin halving formula was coded into the Bitcoin circulation process, we can go straight to the source instead - Bitcoin creator(s), Satoshi Nakamoto.
In the Bitcoin white paper, Nakamoto summarized their reasons for adding a constant rate formula;
"As computers get faster and the total computing power applied to creating Bitcoins increases, the difficulty increases proportionally to keep the total new production constant. Thus, it is known in advance how many new Bitcoins will be created every year in the future.
The fact that new coins are produced means the money supply increases by a planned amount, but this does not necessarily result in inflation. If the supply of money increases at the same rate that the number of people using it increases, prices remain stable. If it does not increase as fast as demand, there will be deflation and early holders of money will see its value increase.
Coins have to get initially distributed somehow, and a constant rate seems like the best formula."
Bitcoin last halved in May 2020. The block reward was halved from 12.5 BTC to 6.25 BTC.
The current block reward for Bitcoin is 6.25 BTC and will remain this amount until the next Bitcoin halving.
Bitcoin is likely to next halve around April 2024, from 6.25 BTC to 3.125 BTC. See the estimated Bitcoin halving schedule below.
As you can see Bitcoin halves roughly every four years and the next Bitcoin halving (the fourth halving) is estimated to take place in March 2024 and the rewards will halve from 6.25 BTC to 3.125 BTC.
As you can see from previous Bitcoin halving dates, the four-year rule isn’t exact and future Bitcoin halving dates are estimated dates. This is because Bitcoin halving isn’t scheduled to happen on a specific date every four years, instead, Bitcoin halves every 210,000 blocks and how fast that happens may vary slightly.
This all comes down to how the Bitcoin mining algorithm works. Each block should take 10 minutes to mine - as dictated by the mining algorithm.
Of course, if more miners join the Bitcoin network and add more hashing power, without any other processes in place, the time to mine a block will decrease.
To stop this, the mining difficulty for Bitcoin resets every two weeks to maintain this 10-minute target. The more miners, the harder it is to mine a block, and vice versa.
Because of this formula, the exact date and time of the next Bitcoin halving can be difficult to estimate as sometimes the Bitcoin block time is slightly above or below the 10-minute target, and therefore 210,000 blocks may be mined marginally quicker (or slower) than every four years precisely.
Wondering what Bitcoin halving means for Bitcoin’s price? After past Bitcoin halvings, Bitcoin halving events have historically resulted in a rise in Bitcoin price, often several months prior in anticipation of the halving event.
Looking at historical data, we can see Bitcoin previously surged in price prior to a halving and has a large drop following the halving - however, even with the drop, the price of Bitcoin has generally remained higher than the price prior to the halving event.
Of course, past performance does not indicate future results when it comes to crypto and the Bitcoin price may vary significantly before and after halving events, ultimately impacting the price effect of a Bitcoin halving event. However, the basic underlying economic theory here is that as supply decreases, demand increases.
As well as this, because halving the block reward doubles the cost to miners, this will theoretically have a positive impact on price because Bitcoin miners will need to adjust their selling price to cover their mining costs.
The final Bitcoin halving event is estimated to happen in 2140. At this point, there will be 21 million Bitcoin in circulation and no more Bitcoin will be created through mining.
Bitcoin halving will cease when there is no more Bitcoin left to mine. Miners will only be rewarded with transaction fees instead.
More questions about Bitcoin halving? Here are some of the most common queries.
Bitcoin halving is a formula built into the Bitcoin blockchain. The formula dictates that as the supply of Bitcoin decreases, the rewards for mining Bitcoin will decrease with it.
The first Bitcoin halving happened in 2012. Bitcoin block rewards were cut from 50 BTC to 25 BTC - although at the time the price of BTC was far lower than it is today!
You can trade as you normally would during Bitcoin halving events. If you'd like to make the most of the Bitcoin halving event, you can strategize when to buy and sell Bitcoin around the event, or even look at CFDs. This said you should do a lot of research first before you dive into these markets as these are extremely high risk. You can learn more in our crypto derivatives guide and crypto options guide.
Miners may see Bitcoin mining as bad in the short-term as their rewards are reduced, however, Bitcoin halving has benefits. Historically, the price of Bitcoin has risen and remained higher after halving events.
Sure, in theory, if you buy and sell at opportune moments during the run-up to and following the Bitcoin halving event you may be able to get some gains. You can do your research and look at a variety of technical indicators to strategize. But don’t forget, the taxman will want his cut!
Good question. You’ll need a dedicated mining rig, Bitcoin mining software, and probably to join a Bitcoin mining pool. Find out how in our mining crypto at home guide.
Yes. Bitcoin will stop halving when there’s no Bitcoin left to mine - so when there are 21 million Bitcoin in circulation. Don’t worry though - this isn’t due to occur until 2140 from current predictions!
Nothing happens to Bitcoin you own after halving, only Bitcoin miners are impacted. They’ll receive half the block rewards than they previously did after a Bitcoin halving event. This said, there are often large price fluctuations around Bitcoin halving events historically.
Theoretically, yes. The economic theory here is that having a capped supply of a given cryptocurrency increases its scarcity. As the crypto becomes more scarce, supply decreases, and demand increases.
It should go without saying that this is all in theory. The crypto market is unpredictable and past performance does not predict future results.
All Bitcoin will be mined when there are 21 million Bitcoin in circulation. This is estimated to occur in 2140 currently.
Mining Bitcoin? Bitcoin mining is taxed and your tax office will want to know about it.
Koinly can help you calculate your income, gain, and losses automatically, help you track your tax liability throughout the year, and generate your Bitcoin tax report to help you file with your tax office. Better still, Koinly is entirely free to start using today. Sign up for free.