Bitcoin traders are split on whether the cryptocurrency’s once-every-four-years “halving” will jolt prices toward 2017’s all-time-high near $20,000 or multiples of that.
The search engine’s Google Trends feature shows queries on the term “bitcoin halving” have doubled this month from December levels to the highest since the last such event in 2016.
According to Arcane Research, the increasing number of Google searches is a sign the halving might be capturing greater public interest as a potential catalyst for higher prices in 2020.
"The bitcoin halving is gaining more traction,” Arcane said Friday in the report. “There is now a clear indication that awareness of the concept is spreading to new people.”
Google Trends doesn’t disclose the actual number of searches on “bitcoin halving” but does publish data showing the search term registered a reading of 35 during the week ended Jan. 19, up from an average 15 during the month of December. The scale is normalized so that a reading of 100 represents the peak of a particular search term's popularity.
For "bitcoin halving," that happened in 2016, when the last such event occurred. Bitcoin prices doubled that year and surged by 13 times in 2017.
The halving was codified into bitcoin’s underlying software code when the cryptocurrency was launched just over a decade ago. Every four years, the bitcoin network undergoes a 50 percent reduction in its "mining rewards" - essentially the number of new units of the cryptocurrency issued as rewards to computer operators that are working to confirm data on the underlying blockchain network.
Some crypto investors say the event could boost bitcoin’s price because the pace of new issuance will decrease at a time when more investors are considering getting into, or increasing their allocations of, the cryptocurrency. As an investment, bitcoin has outperformed traditional assets like equities, with a price jump of 94 percent in 2019 that was roughly triple last year’s gains in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of large U.S. stocks.
Analysts for the German bank BayernLB predicted last year the halving could send bitcoin to a new record around $90,000, but some investors maintain that the event is so well telegraphed and understood that it’s likely already reflected in the market price, currently around $8,500.
Within the crypto industry, the halving is highly anticipated. Some enthusiasts have even created a dedicated website to count down the remaining days, hours, minutes and seconds until it happens. According to the site, bitcoinblockhalf.com, the event will take place on or around May 12 - now just 108 days away.
But while it appears more are interested in what the term signifies, Arcane Research noted “bitcoin halving” still garners far fewer searches than just “bitcoin.” According to Google Trends, “bitcoin” by itself garnered at least 30 times more searches than “bitcoin halving.”
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.