Bitcoin’s hashrate has been running hot despite the lower prices and the recent difficulty increases. In fact, blocks are being discovered faster than the ten-minute block interval average and because of this factor, the network’s reward halving may come sooner than expected. While some halving counters that simply leverage the ten-minute average note the halving is expected in May or April 2024, halving counters leveraging precise block interval times show the halving event could happen as early as March 1, 2024.
Block Intervals Show Halving Date Could Be Much Closer Than Most Expect
While the cryptocurrency community is focused on The Merge, the hashpower behind the Bitcoin network has been higher than usual, which has made block intervals speed up. Currently, there’s 244.62 exahash per second (EH/s) dedicated to the blockchain, and on September 4, 2022, it tapped a quick lifetime high at 301.45 EH/s at block height 752,510.
Just before the end of August, Bitcoin.com News reported on how Bitcoin’s block times have been much faster than the ten-minute average. When block times are faster than the ten-minute average and consistently remain faster during the two weeks leading up to a difficulty change, the shift will increase the difficulty.
That’s what happened on August 31, when the Bitcoin network printed the second largest difficulty increase in 2022. The difficulty increase did not slow miners down and the next difficulty change, expected on September 15, is estimated to increase again by more than 3%.
Block times have been a lot faster than the ten-minute interval and on September 11, the average block time was less than eight minutes. Block discovery speed has made it so the Bitcoin network halving may come a lot earlier than most expected. However, the estimate is based on the data and speeds recorded right now, and there’s still more than a year of time that could change things indefinitely.
Today’s data from bitcoinsensus.com and metrics from nicehash.com indicate Bitcoin’s fourth halving event will take place in March 2024. The date is well before the often used May 3, 2024 estimate, which leverages a ten-minute block interval to calculate the halving date.
In fact, bitcoinsensus.com shows two counters with one based on current block times (8.50 Minutes) and one counter based on the average of ten minutes per block. Bitcoinsensus.com estimates that the current halving date, based on actual block times will be March 2, 2024. So instead of 598 days away, the Bitcoin block halving is estimated to be 509 days away.
Nicehash.com’s halving counter shows the date could take place on March 1, 2024, or one day before the estimate shown on bitcoinsensus.com’s web portal. Every time 210,000 blocks are mined, the block reward halves.
The current block reward is 6.25 BTC per block and by the time the next halving takes place, miners will get 3.125 coins per block post halving. A closer halving suggests the price could increase sooner than expected as bitcoin’s value typically rises ahead of the block reward halving.