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Bitcoin Halving & Bitcoin Misconceptions

Intermediate level

Chapter 4 - The Bitcoin Halving


  • What is the Bitcoin Halving?

  • How does the Bitcoin halving work?

  • Why does the Bitcoin halving happen?

  • What impact does the Bitcoin halving have?

  • When is the next Bitcoin Halving?

What is the Bitcoin halving?

A Bitcoin halving (also called a Bitcoin halvening) is simply an event that reduces the block reward. Once a halving occurs, the reward given to miners for validating new blocks is divided by two (they only receive half of what they used to). However, there is no impact on transaction fees.

How does the Bitcoin halving work?

When Bitcoin launched, miners would be awarded 50 BTC for each valid block they found.

The first halving took place on November 28th, 2012. At that point, the protocol reduced the block subsidy from 50 BTC to 25 BTC. The second halving occurred on July 9th, 2016 (25 BTC to 12.5 BTC). The last one took take place on May 11th, 2020, bringing the block subsidy down to 6.25 BTC.

You might notice a certain pattern here. Give or take a handful of months, a new halving seems to occur every four years. That’s by design, but the protocol does not set specific dates on which a halving takes place. Instead, it goes by block heightevery 210,000 blocks, a halving occurs. So, we can expect it to take about 2,100,000 minutes for the subsidy to halve (remember, a block takes ~10 minutes to mine).

In the above chart, we can see the decrease in the block subsidy over time and its relationship with the total supply. At first, it may seem that the rewards have dropped to zero and that the max supply is already in circulation. But this is not the case. The curves trend incredibly close, but we expect the subsidy to reach zero around the year 2140.

Why does the Bitcoin halving happen?

It’s one of Bitcoin’s main selling points, but Satoshi Nakamoto never fully explained his reasoning for capping the supply at twenty-one million units. Some speculate that it’s merely a product of starting with a block subsidy of 50 BTC, which is halved every 210,000 blocks.

Having a finite supply means that the currency is not prone to debasement in the long run. It stands in stark contrast to fiat money, which loses purchasing power over time as new units enter into circulation.

It makes sense that there are limits on how fast participants can mine coins. After all, 50% were generated by block 210,000 (i.e., by 2012). If the subsidy remained the same, all units would have been mined by 2016.

With the halving mechanism, there is an incentive to mine for 100+ years. This gives the system more than enough time to attract users so that a fee market can develop.

What impact does the Bitcoin halving have?

Those that are most impacted by halvings are miners. It makes sense, as the block subsidy makes up a significant part of their revenue. When it is halved, they only receive half of what they once did. The reward also consists of transaction fees, but to date, these have only made up a fraction of the block reward.

Halvings could, therefore, make it unprofitable for some participants to continue mining. What this means for the wider industry is unknown. A reduction in block rewards might lead to further centralization in mining pools, or it could simply promote more efficient mining practices.

If Bitcoin continues to rely on a Proof of Work algorithm, fees would need to rise to keep mining profitable. This scenario is entirely possible, as blocks can only hold so many transactions. If there are a lot of pending transactions, those with higher fees will be included first.

Historically, a sharp rise in Bitcoin price has followed a halving. Of course, there isn’t much data available as we’ve only seen two so far. Many attribute the price movement to an appreciation of Bitcoin’s scarcity by the market, a realization triggered by the halving. Proponents of this theory believe that value will once again skyrocket following the event in May 2020.

Others disagree with this logic, arguing that the market has already factored the halving in. It’s not like the event comes as a surprise – participants have known for over a decade that the reward would be reduced in May 2020. Another point often made is that the industry was extremely underdeveloped during the first two halvings. Nowadays, it has a higher profile, offers sophisticated trading tools, and is more accommodating to a broader investor pool.

When is the next Bitcoin halving?

The next halving is expected to take place in 2024, when the reward will drop to 3.125 BTC. Keep an eye on the countdown with Binance Academy's Bitcoin Halving Countdown.

Chapter 5 - Common Bitcoin Misconceptions


  • Is Bitcoin anonymous?

  • Is Bitcoin a scam?

  • Is Bitcoin a bubble?

  • Does Bitcoin use encryption?

Is Bitcoin anonymous?

Not really. Bitcoin might seem anonymous initially, but this isn’t correct. The Bitcoin blockchain is public and anyone can see the transactions. Your identity isn’t tied to your wallet addresses on the blockchain, but an observer with the right resources could potentially link the two together. It’s more accurate to describe Bitcoin as pseudonymous. Bitcoin addresses are viewable to everybody, but the names of their owners are not.

That said, the system is relatively private, and there are methods to make it even harder for observers to figure out what you’re doing with your bitcoins. Freely available technologies can create plausible deniability to “break the link” between addresses. What’s more, future upgrades could massively boost privacy.

Is Bitcoin a scam?

No. Just like fiat money, Bitcoin may also be used for illegal activities. But, this doesn’t make Bitcoin a scam in and of itself.

Bitcoin is a digital currency that isn’t controlled by anyone. Detractors have branded it a pyramid scheme, but it doesn’t fit the definition. As digital money, it functions just as well at $20 per coin as it does at $20,000 per coin. It’s over a decade old, and the technology has proven to be very secure and reliable.

Unfortunately, Bitcoin is used in many scams that you should be aware of. These might include phishing and other social engineering schemes, such as fake giveaways and airdrops. As a general rule: if something sounds too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. Never give your private keys or seed phrase to anyone, and be cautious of schemes that offer to multiply your money with little risk on your behalf. If you send your coins to a scammer or to a fake giveaway, they will be lost forever.

Is Bitcoin a bubble?

Throughout the many parabolic rises in Bitcoin price, it was common to see people referring to it as a speculative bubble. Many economists have compared Bitcoin to periods like the Tulip Mania or the dot-com boom.

Due to Bitcoin’s unique nature as a decentralized digital commodity, its price is entirely dictated by speculation in the free market. So, while there are many factors driving the Bitcoin price, they ultimately affect market supply and demand. And since Bitcoin is scarce and follows a strict issuance schedule, it’s thought that long-term demand will exceed supply.

The cryptocurrency markets are also relatively small when compared to traditional markets. This means that Bitcoin and other crypto assets tend to be more volatile, and it’s quite common to see short-term market imbalances between supply and demand.

In other words, Bitcoin can be a volatile asset at times. But volatility is part of the financial markets, especially ones with relatively lower volume and liquidity.

Does Bitcoin use encryption?

No. This is a common misconception, but Bitcoin’s blockchain doesn’t use encryption. Every peer on the network needs to be able to read transactions to ensure that they’re valid. Instead, it uses digital signatures and hash functions. While some digital signature algorithms do use encryption, that’s not the case for Bitcoin.

It’s worth noting, though, that many applications and crypto wallets make use of encryption to protect users’ wallets with passwords. Still, these encryption methods have nothing to do with the blockchain – they’re just incorporated into other technologies that tap into it.

Source: Binance

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