Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and simply defined, cryptocurrencies are digital or virtual cryptocurrencies that are secured by cryptography, hence the name. It is near-impossible for cryptocurrencies to be counterfeited or double-spent.
A Quick Overview of our Bitcoin Halving ultimate guide:
- ✔️What is Bitcoin?
- ✔️What makes Bitcoin so valuable?
- ✔️Bitcoin Blockchain
- Bitcoin Mining
- Bitcoin Trading
- Benefits of Trading Bitcoin
- Risks involved in Trading Bitcoin
- Everything traders need to know about Bitcoin halving
- Preparing for a Bitcoin halving
- What happens when all Bitcoins have been mined?
What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency that was ever created, and it has been around for more than a decade. It was first, and officially, mentioned in a paper titled Bitcoin: A peer-to-peer Electronic Cash System.
The paper was written by Satoshi Nakamoto and posted to a cryptography mailing list. The official Bitcoin project was registered soon after on an open-source projects community resource by the name of SourceForge.net.
Bitcoin was first launched in 2009 when the first open-source Bitcoin client was released with the first Bitcoins which were mined by Nakamoto.
The first block, the Genesis Block, was first mined by Nakamoto and awarded 50 Bitcoins, or BTC. One of Bitcoin’s first supporters, adopters, and contributors to Bitcoin, Hal Finney, a programmer, was the first receiver of Bitcoins.
On the day that the software was launched, he downloaded it and was rewarded with Bitcoins in the first official transaction. The reins to Bitcoin were later handed over to Gavin Andresen, a developer who subsequently became the lead developer at the Bitcoin Foundation.
What makes Bitcoin so valuable?
Bitcoin’s value is attributed to a variety of factors in addition to being the first cryptocurrency ever created. It was also the first digital currency which was recognized as one over which no single person, organization, or authority has control.
Bitcoin is completely free from dictatorship, oppression, and hyperinflation. It serves as a haven for many individuals who are subjected to such conditions and circumstances.
There is also a limited supply of Bitcoin, 21 million to be exact, and as soon as all have been mined, there will never be any more than that precise number.
There is also complete transparency that surrounds Bitcoin with regards to the rate at which they are released, and when the last Bitcoin is set to be created and released.
There is a substantial amount of leverage that Bitcoin holds over fiat currencies. One is that Bitcoin cannot be controlled nor manipulated by central banks or governments like fiat currencies are.
Monetary systems are heavily controlled and often manipulated. The value of fiat currency is also backed by the word of governments. This, amidst numerous other controversial factors, is only one reason why Bitcoin is so valuable.
There is a unique design where Bitcoin is concerned and it is poised to have a substantial impact on the lives of numerous people, economies, and even the global economy.
However, despite this, fiat currencies cannot simply fall away. These monetary systems have been around for years and they have substantial importance in addition to serving as stable grounds where trade and exchange are concerned.
An important component of Bitcoin is its Blockchain and a lot of people may not be familiar with the term unless they have done some reading on Bitcoin. Blockchain refers to a database that is distributed and where the storage devices are not merely connected to one common processor.
The database consists of a list of ordered records that is always growing, referred to as blocks.
In every block, there is a timestamp and a link to a block before it. These blocks can only be edited by users who ‘own’ private keys which are linked to the block and are needed to write to the file.
Through cryptography, every user’s copy of the distributed blockchain remains in perfect synchronization. Although blockchain is viewed as a technological advance, numerous views contest this.
Despite such opposing views, blockchain has great potential to have positive implications which are wide-reaching and have the potential to transform financial services. It can also benefit a variety of businesssses and industries in the journey towards a more digitalized world.
Blockchains are, in their unique design, secure. This was a concept introduced by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 and subsequently introduced in 2009 when Bitcoin was first launched.
The blockchain serves as a public ledger in which all transactions associated with Bitcoin are stored and recorded. By making use of blockchain, Bitcoin was the first digital currency that solved the substantial problem that fiat currency experienced with double-spending.
This was done without having to seek assistance from authorities or central servers. By making use of distributed timestamping servers along with a peer-to-peer, or P2P, network, blockchain remains secure and has a database that is both effective and autonomous, and thus, decentralized.
Blockchains, therefore, offer a perfect way to record events such as transactions in addition to using them for identity management. Through this, blockchain offers disintermediation on a substantial scale as far as trade and transaction processing is concerned.
Blockchain allows for anyone to send or receive value anywhere in the world as long as the file associated with blockchain can be accessed. This requires a private and cryptographically created key.
This key allows the owner thereof to edit the blocks that they ‘own’. By using a private key in conjunction with the public key of another person, the value can be sent from one section of the Blockchain to another.
Keys are therefore used to transfer blocks that contain units of Bitcoin. Despite not being tied to a physical world, these units have great monetary value as Bitcoin has experienced more widespread recognition and acceptance around the world.
Due to the digital nature of transactions where value is sent and received, these transactions are recorded.
Blockchain and its corresponding blocks along with the process of verifying transactions have established a substantial amount of trust and identity. This is because blocks cannot be edited without the required keys.
Edits that cannot be verified through the use of these keys are rejected. These keys, however, are subjected to theft as they are essentially just a few lines that contain a computer code. Keys need substantial safekeeping as they may fall prey to hacking attempts and should they be stolen, they, and the funds that they are linked to, will be lost.
To summarize, blockchain technology fulfills three important roles mainly:
- It can record transactions
- It establishes identity, and
- It establishes contracts
Whereas these roles are ordinarily fulfilled by participants in the financial services sector, which is the largest by market capitalization, they are now fulfilled by blockchain.
This is one of many reasons why Bitcoin and blockchain have substantial opposition as, should blockchain technology be used more in other sectors, it could cause substantial disruption in financial services provision.
To further understand blockchain, it is imperative to take a look at the four key components that it comprises of namely blocks, transactions, mining, and consensus.
As previously mentioned, blockchain is made up of blocks that are stored. These appear linear in a fashion where the newest block is attached to another before it. There is data that is contained in each block with the subsequent structure of the data determined by the type of blockchain and how the data is managed.
Where the Bitcoin blockchain is concerned, each block contains crucial information regarding transactions such as the sender and receiver’s information, the amount of Bitcoin, the date and time of the transaction, and so on.
This information is referred to as the hash. It is used to determine the authenticity of a block and whether the block should be attached to the current chain, or whether it must be rejected.
Each block in the chain has its own unique hash which makes it impossible for replication by any malicious entity. This also makes it impossible for any information in the block to be changed without the necessary key.
When Bitcoin is being sent from one person to another, a transaction takes place. This is a crucial element of the blockchain seeing that it contains important information which is recorded in each block.
When Bitcoin is sent from one person to another, the transaction initiates an agreed contract which leads to the state of the blockchain changing. Due to the decentralized nature of the blockchain, all the nodes in the network are updated.
This is due to each having an exact copy of the ledger and thus, the blockchain’s state is created and it can therefore be changed after every transaction which is initiated.
Numerous transactions can be contained in a single block. However, there is a limit on the number of transactions, and this depends on the block, the size of the transaction, and any imposing limit on the number of transactions that can remain.
Transaction verification is done through independent nodes according to the consensus method which is used in the blockchain. Each transaction can have one, and even more, input and output. This links transactions so that a proper note on the expenditure can be kept on the blockchain.
Mining is a vital part of the Bitcoin blockchain which will be discussed in great detail in the following section of this article. Mining is used by Bitcoin in its Proof-of-Work, or PoW, state. The real-world effort is required in the creation of a block, and this is provided through mining.
Mining is done through electricity work, or the spending of substantial computational units so that complex mathematical puzzles can be solved.
Some individuals are tasked with mining the blocks on the blockchain who are referred to as miners. They are the nodes who possess the necessary hard- and software which allows them to partake in Bitcoin mining.
These miners work to solve complex mathematical solutions or algorithms, and they, therefore, hash the block. These miners are rewarded for their efforts in the form of a block reward and transaction fees from the transactions that they validate.
The payment they receive, or the block reward, depends on the mining difficulty in addition to the amount of work that they put in invalidating a block.
This is the final part of blockchain architecture. It can simply be described as the method which is used to validate a transaction. There are several types of consensus methods that are associated with various cryptocurrencies and their corresponding blockchains.
Bitcoin makes use of a PoW and it consists of a set of rules which need to be strictly followed by all participants in the network. Thus, for the consensus method to be imposed, nodes must participate accordingly.
Without the participation of these nodes, the consensus method cannot be implemented. The more nodes there are that participate, the stronger the network will be.
The Bitcoin network is massive, and it offers miners great incentives through mining. Bitcoin has, thus far, the largest mining communities in the cryptocurrency industry.
Miners often have a lot of say in a network and when changes are required, miners even have the ability to protest such changes.
Bitcoin mining has become increasingly popular in recent years due to technological developments and advancements in this particular field.
The purpose of mining Bitcoin, apart from gaining the obvious rewards, is for transactions to be verified on the network by following a set of rules, otherwise known as the consensus method.
For this to be done, complex computer units are used to thoroughly check the transactions. They are then broadcasted to other nodes in the network around the world who are also connected for the same purpose.
These nodes are also known as miners and they are generously rewarded for their efforts in verifying transactions, subsequently adding new blocks onto the blockchain.
To ensure that the network cannot be cheated, the nodes work according to a PoW consensus method. It is a prerequisite that has to be met before a block, with a corresponding transaction, can be added onto the blockchain.
While the nodes perform their validation according to the PoW, they simultaneously attempt to correctly guess a series of numbers and letters, also known as the hash of the block.
The computer, and subsequent node or miner, which guesses the hash correctly, therefore solving the algorithm, is the one that can add the new block to the chain and is, therefore, the one to receive the rewards.
PoW, however, has a drawback. It uses a substantial amount of computational power and the process involved is neither cheap, easy, nor quick when considering that the algorithm increases in difficulty with every certain number of blocks mined.
This means that Bitcoin mining, especially, requires a substantial amount of investment and it does not always mean that miners can make adequate profits to cover the costs of mining, let alone have enough left over after these costs are deducted.
When considering the cost of mining, for the system to be corrupted, it would take even more investment and computational power than it already requires and this, when taken into consideration, makes it worthless for an individual or group to attempt.
At one point, Bitcoin mining could only be done through the use of Central Processing Units, or CPUs, but with mining activity increasing, the hashes became too difficult to guess, rendering CPUs inefficient.
This led to extensive developments in both hardware and software in an attempt to continue mining and solving the algorithm in the fastest time possible. Eventually, more miners started turning toward using Graphical Processing Units, or GPUs, which are more commonly found in powerful video gaming computers.
These days, the hashes are extremely difficult to solve and there are, simultaneously, a great number of miners who are tirelessly working to solve them. When considering this, it would take an extremely powerful, specialist computer system to attempt to solve the algorithms.
These specialized units, also known as mining rigs, make use of sophisticated technology known as Application-Specific Integrated Circuit Chips, or ASICs for short.
When comparing the evolution of technology with the difficulty of the Bitcoin hash, miners who do not make use of ASIC technology are inevitably setting themselves up for failure as well as great costs.
ASICs are specifically designed and built with the purpose of mining Bitcoin. They are therefore the most efficient rigs available on the market, with further developments still in progress as the number of Bitcoin is far from being depleted.
To explain how powerful these ASIC rigs truly are; one ASIC rig possesses the combined power of around 700 GPUs, and it is for this reason that miners have moved on to use this type of mining hardware.
The entire hash rate of Bitcoin has exceeded its milestone of 120 exahash per second. This has resulted in developers shifting their focus towards creating smaller chips for mining rigs so that more powerful miners can emerge from this.
With the production of a smaller chip, it would mean that more chips can be fitted into a mining rig. Resulting in increased mining capabilities of the rig.
What do I need to start mining?
To start mining, miners will need the following:
- Bitcoin Wallet
- Hardware – the power consumption, hash rate, efficiency, and price
- Mining Pools
- Cloud Mining Services
- Staying up to date with Bitcoin news
Bitcoin can be bought, sold, exchanged, and traded either through a cryptocurrency exchange trading platform or through a broker which offers it as a tradable asset.
Through a Cryptocurrency Exchange Platform
There is no singular exchange through which cryptocurrencies can be traded. Instead, there are several which offer the exchange of cryptocurrencies either through crypto-to-crypto or crypto-to-fiat exchanges and trades.
There is, however, a variety of factors that need to be taken into consideration when choosing a cryptocurrency trading platform, including:
- Both the liquidity and the market depth of the exchange. There needs to be an adequate amount to ensure that orders can be filled. It also decreases the chances of a quick dip in the market that may result in losses.
- Trading or transaction fees are charged by the exchange for its services. Fees should be low as it allows the trader to exit despite how small the movements are which will cover the fee and allow traders to make a small profit.
- The location of the exchange and whether it allows fiat deposits or withdrawals. This allows traders to deposit and/or withdraw in their own currency.
- Regulation and trust – the crypto market is, for the greater part, unregulated but this does not mean that they cannot be trusted. Traders must investigate the history of the exchange and the current security measures that they have in place.
Through a broker
Numerous brokers offer trade-in cryptocurrencies mainly as CFD instruments. The process which is involved with choosing the right broker is one that may be daunting and tedious. It is therefore imperative for traders to consider several factors when evaluating brokers.
Apart from the obvious factors to consider such as the regulation of the broker, types of accounts, commissions, and fees, trading platform, withdrawal and deposit methods, and several others, traders also need to consider the following:
- The amount and variety of Cryptocurrency pairs offered
- Accessible and reliable payment methods are offered
- The quality and usability of the trading platforms offered, and
- The level and quality of customer support offered.
Benefits of Trading Bitcoin
This is a substantial benefit in trading Bitcoin which is associated with the fact that it is not tied to a central bank. Digital currencies are not subjected to geopolitical influences and they are free from macroeconomic issues such as inflation and interest rates.
Leverage is a tool that is offered to traders by various brokers. It can be used to the benefit of the trader in opening larger positions despite the trading account balance or initial deposit.
However, traders should note that the leverage offered with cryptocurrency trading may not be as high as other financial instruments due to the risks involved with trading crypto.
Low minimum deposit requirements
Some numerous exchanges and brokers do not require a substantial amount of capital when opening a trading account with the purpose of trading cryptocurrency.
Some minimum deposits start from as little as $1 whereas others do not require a minimum deposit. Traders must, however, use the guidelines provided in choosing a regulated and legitimate broker.
Brokers who offer trade-in cryptocurrency also offer competitive pricing and fee schedules. These are tailored to the need and objectives of a variety of traders in competing with the rates and fees of other brokers.
Client fund security and a safer trading environment
By making use of a regulated broker to trade Bitcoin, traders know that their funds are kept safe and that they are offered a safer trading environment.
Through strict regulation and regulatory entities overseeing the activities of brokers, trader funds are kept in segregated accounts and will only be used in trading activities. Also, these brokers are often members of a compensation scheme that compensates traders should the broker be unable to meet its financial obligations.
There are no limitations on global boundaries
Bitcoin transactions are not restricted and can go across borders. Bitcoin can be sent to and from anywhere in the world at any given time without any limitations or restrictions.
There may be challenges associated with regulation when it is done through a broker, but this is easily solved as long as there are willing participants in the transactions.
Risks involved in Trading Bitcoin
Different exchange rates
Due to Bitcoin being traded on multiple and various exchanges, exchange rates may vary. It is therefore imperative that traders have a clear understanding of the exchange rates that their broker offers.
Risks associated with the US Dollar rate
In receiving Bitcoin deposits from clients, brokers often sell the Bitcoin in exchange for US Dollars. This occurs despite the trader taking a non-forex trade position after they fund their trading account.
Traders are still exposed to the Bitcoin to US Dollar rate risk both in making deposits and withdrawals.
Volatility is a risk that traders cannot control but merely manage and mitigate to avoid substantial losses. All currency pairs experience volatility, especially major pairs which are traded more often.
Bitcoin is traded frequently, especially against the US Dollar, and in high volumes which makes it subjected to high volatility. This, however, brings great opportunities for substantial profits when using the right strategy but it can also lead to substantial losses.
Security risks are inherent
Due to the digital nature of cryptocurrencies, they are susceptible to hacking attempts, especially from exchanges and even from a digital wallet, especially hot wallets that are online.
Due to these risks, traders must ensure that their funds are kept safe and that they avoid keeping large sums of funds in online wallets. Also, traders are urged to use additional security protocols and functions such as multiple signatures, strong passwords, biometric options, and more.
While a great tool that maximizes the chances of profit, leverage, when used incorrectly or abused, can lead to substantial losses.
Traders are urged to ensure that they know how to use leverage effectively and correctly in addition to employing risk management tools while trading.
Mixed asset classes
Cryptocurrencies are in a financial, or asset, class of their own. It also means that cryptocurrencies have their own valuation mechanism.
When trading fiat currencies with cryptocurrencies, or the other way around, traders are introduced to a new intermediate currency which may impact both their profits and losses.
Any capital which is not locked down in the base currency of the trader is a risk which they need to adequately manage.
Everything traders need to know about Bitcoin halving
Now that a great portion of Bitcoin and the mining and/or trading thereof has been covered and traders have a better idea of how Bitcoin works, the next topic to cover is that associated with Bitcoin halving.
There is a total of 21 million Bitcoins and when it launched in 2009, the Bitcoin reward was 50 BTC per block mined. Bitcoin is uniquely designed to halve as soon as every 210,000 blocks have been mined.
There have already been two halvings before 2020 and it is imperative to investigate each in detail for traders to know what to expect when a halving occurs.
The time span of this era was between January 9, 2009, up until November 8, 2012. The block span was between 0 (the Genesis Block) up to 210,000. The block reward during this time period was 50 BTC per block which was mined.
Bitcoin’s earliest period refers to a time when it was, for the greater part, unknown to the general public. The initial block reward was set at 50 BTC by Satoshi Nakamoto and thus, for every bock that was mined, miners, or miners, were rewarded with 50 BTC.
The result of such a substantial reward was rapid and early issuance, with 50% of the total supply of Bitcoin being issued during this time period.
A large amount of this was personally acquired by Nakamoto as he was the only miner during a great part of 2009. There was truly little incentive involved in participating in early mining as BTC had not yet established any real value.
It was only during 2010, with the emergence of early exchanges, that a price point on Bitcoin, above $1, was established.
The demonstration of value attracted miners in record time resulting in increased difficulty and providing a large and competitive environment for more improved mining hardware along with cheaper power.
Those with foresight quickly soaked up the abundant and early supply of Bitcoin resulting in the first price hike in Bitcoin, of just above $10, as sellers started noticing a demand for Bitcoin. This demand resulted in sellers asking higher prices for their coins.
Due to this, there was a crash followed by rapid recovery as the market realized that price support would be offered with 2012 halving looming ahead.
First Halving Era
The time span for this era was between November 28, 2012, until July 9, 2016. The block span was 210,000 to 420,000 and the block reward during this era was 25 BTC per block which was mined.
Due to 50% of the BTC supply being issued during the first era, at the end of this era, around 75% of supply had been issued. The economic model, which is associated with supply and demand dictates that, should supply decrease while demand increases, prices must subsequently rise.
This is exactly what happened to the price of Bitcoin as it experienced substantial price hikes. The decreased supply in Bitcoin, along with more widespread awareness, resulted in a higher price on Bitcoin, peaking above $1,000 in late 2013.
However, this peak led to the leading exchange used at the time, Mt. Gox, crashing catastrophically. This was followed by a long duration where there were both declines, and stabilizations experienced. However, the price on Bitcoin maintained its price despite these challenges.
Second Halving Era
The time span for this era is between July 9, 2016, up until May 11. The block span during this period is 420,000 to 630,000 with 12.5 BTC as the block reward per block mined.
By the time of the third halving, in May, a little more than 89% of all Bitcoin has been issued. One imperative difference to take note of from previous eras is the pattern of price rises that Bitcoin has experienced.
After the halving which occurred on May 11, the block reward for having mined a block is now 6.25 BTC. As previously mentioned, the price of Bitcoin has increased steadily over the past few years to where it is now, selling for $18,295, at the time of writing.
When viewed holistically over the past few years, there are a few noticeable spikes in the price of Bitcoin. Historically speaking, Bitcoin has only reached the price range where it currently is once, on December 11, 2017, for $19,140.
This is mainly due to several factors including the decrease in mining difficulty which plummeted by 16%. In addition to this, Bitcoin has become more widely accepted by numerous merchants, including PayPal, which recently announced that Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin can be bought, sold, and held through its platform.
Preparing for a Bitcoin halving
When considering that the next Bitcoin halving is set for 2024, traders have adequate time to prepare themselves. There are numerous factors that traders will need to keep in mind in preparation for this event.
Where Bitcoin is concerned, the point at which new Bitcoins are created inevitably means that the supply of money rises by a certain amount, however, it does not mean that there will be an inevitable rise in inflation.
Should the supply of money grow at the very same rate at which its use rises, rates are set to remain constant? Should it not grow as fast as demand, deflation will occur, and the early holders of money should see a rise in its value.
Coins must, somehow, be originally allocated and a fixed rate seems to be the most suitable formula.
Market rules dictate that supply and demand are what markets are dominated by. Should the demand remain the same, an increase in supply will subsequently, and inevitably, lower the price.
This then means that should demand to remain constant, the price must decrease more slowly after halving occurs.
However, it would seem that fluctuating demand which is predominantly driven by both the emotions and the psychology of market participants in the cryptocurrency market is the dominant power in the market.
This has led to the general belief that lowering levels of supply will increase the price of Bitcoin. There is no doubt left by the stock-to-flow ratio that a connection exists between the halving of the block reward and the increasing price of Bitcoin.
This substantial belief is prevalent in the media, which further increases demand due to more people wanting to profit from what is referred to as a ‘safe price increase’.
One of the most important indicators associated with the Bitcoin halving will be the future price developments of Litecoin. Should the cryptocurrency of the halving show a continued rise, the Halving type surrounding Bitcoin will be fuelled.
Should this not be the case, it is likely to lose more value. This could upset the collective faith and belief in the stock-to-flow theory which will inevitably knock the wind out of the sails concerned with the hype.
During the last Halving, Bitcoin’s price did not show substantial fluctuations. These were experienced recently due to a variety of factors such as the acceptance of cryptocurrencies by PayPal, the substantial drop in mining difficulty, and more.
What happens when all Bitcoins have been mined?
Once all 21 million Bitcoin has been mined, it would mean that miners will no longer receive block rewards. Meaning that the supply of new coins will be exhausted.
There is, however, one possibility that exists concerning the Bitcoin protocol being changed to allow for a larger supply. However, this will not be in line with the fundamental vision that Nakamoto had.
There are complex and ongoing debates regarding what would happen once the supply of Bitcoin has been exhausted. But, for now, there is less than three million Bitcoin yet to be mined with the last Bitcoin likely to be mined in 2140.
Pros and Cons of Bitcoin
|Bitcoin has experienced a substantial number of struggles, which it overcame||Bitcoin’s price is high with more increases looming ahead|
|Bitcoin offers diversification in addition to acting as a hedge against inflation||There are still concerns over security breaches and scams|
|Bitcoin is accepted and recognized globally||There are no refunds|
|Cryptocurrencies solve numerous problems experienced by fiat currencies||It is costly to mine and profits may not cover operational costs|
|There is a lot of momentum observed in the price movements of BTC, ETH, and LTC||Environmental impacts resulting from the computational power needed to mine Bitcoin|