Bitcoin investors are buying up for next year’s drop in supply

Bitcoin bulls are already touting the next great “halvening” as a catalyst for more price gains by the biggest cryptocurrency.

That’s an event, also called halving in the crypto community, that occurs every few years when the number of coins awarded to the so-called miners that use computers to process transactions are slashed in half to prevent inflation from eroding the value of the digital asset. The next cut is expected to come in May 2020.

In a recent Twitter poll — which, admittedly, are about as unscientific as you can get — 61% of some 2,500 respondents said they anticipate Bitcoin will rally into the reduction of the block rewards and thereafter because of the basic rules of supply and demand. Enthusiasts hoping to continue to ride the wave of demand that has prompted Bitcoin to more than double this year point to the rallies that followed similar events in 2012 and 2016.

Bitcoin surged to around $1,000 from about $10 in the 12 months following the first halvening in November 2012, less than four years after the creation of the digital coin. The second time, Bitcoin almost tripled in the year leading up, and surged in the aftermath of the July 2016 reduction, peaking at nearly $20,000 at the end of 2017, before crashing in the months that followed.

Crypto evangelists such as Morgan Creek Digital co-founder Anthony Pompliano have been emphasizing the halvening heavily lately even through it isn’t going to happen until next year. Pompliano in a Tweet this week wrote, “Imagine if daily printing of U.S. dollars was suddenly cut in half forever. Bankers would be FOMOing even though USD isn’t a scarce asset.”

Not everyone shares the enthusiasm. An increasing number of skeptics say that correlation between Bitcoin bull runs and halvenings is tenuous at best. “With a sample size of two, it’s hard to assign any statistical significance to the event,” Eric Turner, director of research at Messari Inc., said in an email.

This time around, many more mainstream investors and hedge funds already own Bitcoin. The coin’s price is also swayed by the many derivatives that have appeared and are still popping up.

“Since halving events are known well in advance, it is unlikely that they would have any impact on the price of Bitcoin,” Gil Luria, managing director at DA Davidson & Co., said in an email. “There are so many factors that impact the price of Bitcoin, but this should not be one of them.”

The person or people who created the Bitcoin system under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto capped total issuance at 21 million coins. A halvening reduces the supply of new tokens by 50%, and in theory makes existing tokens more valuable by the time the last coin is slated to be mined in 2140.

“The first halvening brought inflation from 40% to 20%. The second from 20% to 10%. The next halvening is going to reduce it from about 3.8% to 1.9%,” Kyle Samani, co-founder of crypto hedge fund Multicoin Capital Management, said in an email. “On an absolute basis, each halvening is becoming increasingly less relevant.”

Halvening Again

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Bitcoin investors are buying up for next year’s drop in supply