Impact of Bitcoin halving event on transaction confirmation times

12 Mar 2024

Imagine the Bitcoin halving as a festival that happens roughly every four years — or every 210,000 blocks, to be precise. The mechanism was designed by Satoshi Nakamoto to control inflation by reducing the rate at which new Bitcoin 
 are generated. As mining rewards decrease due to the halving, miner efficiency becomes crucial. While larger mining operations may have an advantage, smaller miners can stay competitive by optimizing their setups and joining mining pools. This ensures a diverse mining ecosystem where both scale and innovation contribute to profitability. 
This article discusses what a Bitcoin halving is, the role of transaction fees in compensating for reduced block rewards, how layer-2 solutions balance up the cost factor of Bitcoin, and how various factors might affect transaction confirmation times.

What is a Bitcoin halving?

halving is a preordained event in the Bitcoin protocol where the compensation for mining new blocks gets cut in half. As part of Bitcoin’s deflationary model, halvings reduce the new supply of Bitcoin at regular intervals. The event greatly impacts the Bitcoin environment, influencing miner sentiment and the network’s hashing power. 
The halving is often followed by sharp volatility in BTC prices. This is due to the reduced supply of new Bitcoin, which can lead to speculative trading and uncertainty about future valuations, influencing both short-term fluctuations and long-term price trends in the cryptocurrency market.
Related: How to trade Bitcoin during the halving period?

The role of transaction fees in compensating for reduced block rewards

The decrease in block rewards following the Bitcoin halving presents a challenge for miners, determining their ability to participate in the Bitcoin network. Transaction fees are an essential element of the network and act as an incentive for miners. In addition to block rewards, the fees give miners extra income to make up for the halved block rewards. To stay profitable and discourage spam, miners prioritize transactions with higher fees.
After a halving event, the importance of transaction fees increases, but they are part of a broader revenue mix that includes rewards, market prices and operational efficiencies, with miners adapting to maintain profitability in a changing landscape.
By enabling quicker and cheaper Bitcoin transactions off-chain, layer-2 scaling solutions like the Lightning Network hope to reduce the load on the Bitcoin blockchain and its related costs. 

How the Bitcoin halving affects transaction confirmation times

The objective of the halving is to reduce the rate at which new Bitcoin is created, making BTC a truly scarce asset. In theory, the network’s hashing power could be impacted, and transaction confirmation times could rise if halving events result in miners leaving the network due to lower profitability. 
However, in practice, halving events have had little effect on confirmation times because of mining difficulty adjustments and the continuing evolution of mining technology. Mining difficulty adjustment is an automatic adjustment mechanism in the Bitcoin network that ensures a consistent block time regardless of the total mining power in the network.
This difficulty adjustment happens independently of the halving events, roughly every two weeks. However, halving events can indirectly affect the network and influence confirmation times. 

Factors influencing transaction confirmation times

Several parameters, such as block size, block time, transaction fees and network traffic, affect transaction confirmation time in a blockchain network like Bitcoin.

Network traffic

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Transaction confirmation time is greatly impacted by network congestion, measured by the number of pending transactions that need to be confirmed. Network traffic can surge at times of high activity, such as when there is a surge in speculative trading or demand for Bitcoin transactions. This causes miners to prioritize transactions with larger fees, which can result in longer confirmation times.

Transaction fee

Miners primarily decide which transactions to include in a particular block based on the fees attached to those transactions. Higher fee transactions usually have more financial incentives, so miners prioritize them. Consequently, users who add more costs to their fees can expect faster confirmation times.

Block size

In most blockchains, maximum block size affects how quickly transactions are confirmed. Bitcoin caps block size at four million weight units, equivalent to 4 megabytes. 

Block time

Transaction confirmation time is impacted by the average time miners take to add a new block to the blockchain, also called block time. The typical block time in Bitcoin is about 10 minutes. 

Indirect impact of halving events on the Bitcoin network

Miners perform complex computational work to verify and process transactions, competing to solve cryptographic puzzles. The first to solve the puzzle gets to add the next block to the blockchain and claim the associated rewards, which, post-halving, are reduced. This can lead to an indirect impact, as explained below:

Miner participation and network difficulty adjustments

Because the halving lowers the block reward, some miners may find mining less profitable, particularly those with significant operating costs. The entire hashing power of the network may drop if a sizable portion of miners switch off their machines due to decreased profitability. This may cause longer transaction confirmation times and slower block timings in the short run until the network’s difficulty adjusts. 
Regardless of the total mining power, the Bitcoin network adjusts its difficulty roughly every two weeks to keep a constant average block time of approximately 10 minutes. Following a halving event, if many miners leave the network, the network will gradually reduce its difficulty, making it easier for the remaining miners to add blocks. Confirmation times should return to normal as a result of this adjustment. 

User transaction behavior

The impact of the halving on miner income isn’t exclusively negative. The Bitcoin price, which has historically risen in the months following each halving, can offset the decreased block rewards. For example, at the time of writing, miners are rewarded 6.25 BTC at a market price of $67,300, which, in United States dollar terms, is worth much more than the 50 BTC reward miners received between 2009 and 2012 before the first halving.
In times of heavy demand, users can have their transactions prioritized by increasing the fees they are willing to pay. This can cause the network’s average transaction fees to rise. The absolute value of transaction fees, which are paid in BTC, increases along with the value of Bitcoin, making them attractive to miners. This dynamic can influence which transactions are picked up first, but it does not directly affect how quickly or slowly blocks are added to the chain. 
The overall impact on confirmation times can be mixed. Confirmation times for high-fee transactions might not change or improve because they are prioritized. Confirmation times, however, may lengthen for transactions with lesser fees as they compete for a spot in each block’s limited space. This effect may be more noticeable during heavy demand, resulting in longer confirmation times for low-fee transactions.

Layer-2 solutions and their potential to mitigate impacts on confirmation times

Layer-2 solutions improve scalability and reduce congestion in the Bitcoin network, influencing the transaction confirmation time. Below are the various ways L2 solutions could reduce the time taken for transaction confirmation:

Off-chain transactions

Layer-2 solutions take transactions off-chain, which involves grouping several transactions and settling them as a single transaction on the main blockchain. Layer-2 solutions relieve congestion by processing fewer individual transactions on-chain, which expedites confirmation times.

Payment channels

The Lightning Network creates direct payment channels between users and networks, enabling quick and inexpensive transactions. The channels eliminate the requirement for on-chain confirmations and facilitate almost immediate transactions.


By shifting transactions off-chain, layer-2 solutions improve the scalability of Bitcoin and allow the network to process a greater volume of transactions without sacrificing security. The network can handle more transactions per second with more scalability, which eases congestion and speeds up confirmation times for all users.


Layer-2 solutions work efficiently for microtransactions in satoshis — the smallest denomination of Bitcoin — allowing users to make everyday purchases without paying comparatively high transaction fees. However, it doesn’t reduce the confirmation time of transactions that are still processed on the main chain. Also, the transactions conducted off-chain only achieve the same level of security and finality as the main chain when they are settled (recorded) on the main blockchain.

Preparing for the 2024 Bitcoin halving event

Miners and users must both plan ahead to manage fee volatility after the halving. Users can plan transactions considering anticipated fee variations, while miners can prepare ahead of time by optimizing operations and altering fee methods.
Users can select the best times to complete their transactions by carefully examining charge forecasts and market patterns. This allows them to avoid peak periods when fees are at their greatest.
Similarly, miners may counterbalance by upgrading to energy-efficient mining hardware, optimizing mining software or exploring renewable energy sources to reduce operational costs. They may also use fee estimation algorithms, which adjust fees based on network congestion and transaction urgency.

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