Ushering in Bitcoin’s third “halving,” by far the most highly awaited cryptocurrency event of the year, mining pool F2Pool rooted a mysterious message into the blockchain that will now reside there forever.
Preceded by a fish emoji signifying the company’s logo, the mining pool added the text to a headline from The New York Times: “NYTimes 09/Apr/2020 With $2.3T Injection, Fed’s Plan Far Exceeds 2008 Rescue.” To bitcoin OGs, the significance is clear. It’s a reference to a similar newspaper heading Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto embedded into the first-ever block, slyly referencing the 2008’s momentous financial crisis and implying bitcoin might be able to help combat associated systemic problems.
By chance, mining pool F2Pool won the last block reward Monday before the much-anticipated “halving” event, which cuts in half bitcoin’s block rewards, or how much bitcoin is created every 10 minutes, allowing the pool to embed the text.
F2Pool co-Founder Wang Chun said in an interview during CoinDesk’s Consensus: Distributed conference that it was his idea and the pool had “carefully” culled through many headlines over a couple months before finding the perfect message.
“History has repeated. Due to the coronavirus, there has been yet another ongoing wave of bailout[s] just like the one Satoshi had seen in 2008, but bigger in scale, like Bitcoin reinvented,” he said in a follow-up email to CoinDesk.
“With the changes in the global economic environment, central banks of various countries have gradually adopted aggressive [Quantitative Easing (QE)] policies. We have found that Mr. Satoshi Nakamoto’s concerns have been there and are getting more and more serious since the economic crisis of 2008,” F2Pool CMO Qingfei Li added, referencing QE, a policy where central banks buy long-term capital assets to increase the money supply and stimulate the economy.
The stunt has been a hit with Bitcoiners who are aware of the history and symbolic significance of the genesis block. Cryptocurrency educator Andreas Antonopolous called the act “iconic,” while Scalar Capital co-founder Linda Xie tweeted, “Is it weird I’m crying a little?”
Bitcoin's new age
Back in 2009 when Bitcoin’s code ran for the first time, Satoshi embedded the following text in the block: “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.”
Though he, she or they never said bitcoin would stop bank bailouts, the community has come to see this secret message as a sign of the goals of bitcoin: to fix some of the issues and corruption inherent in today’s financial system.
Chun said his company selected The New York Times because it’s like the American version of Britain’s The Times, further echoing the initial message.
F2Pool chose the halving in particular to embed this message because it is like a marker for a “new age” for bitcoin, Chun said. “Every time Bitcoin gets halved. We see Bitcoin enters a new age. The boundary is quite clear,” Chun added.
He added it marks the beginning of “episode III” of bitcoin, referencing “Star Wars.” (Chun likes his “Star Wars” references. In a video mirroring the classic scrolling “Star Wars” introduction, Chun recounts bitcoin’s beginnings with a Biblical touch: “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth and the white paper.”)
You’d think it would be episode IV, but as a loyal programmer he said he starts counting from zero.
The halving is also a sign of bitcoin’s maturity, according to Li.
“[T]he halving of Bitcoin is a very memorable event for the Bitcoin blockchain and all the participants of [the] crypto market, which means that the currency experiment (bitcoin blockchain) has been successfully carried out for nearly 12 years and will continue to run. It is very commemorative to insert the news at such a time,” Li said.
Chun noted he’s not an “economic expert,” but summarized a ubiquitous view in the bitcoin community: Bitcoin users have more control.
“Bitcoin [gave] people back the control, and their freedom, for the first time since banks took it over some 100 years ago,” he said.