Helium Wireless Network Approves New Hard Cap for HNT Token Emissions

Adding a token hard-cap and introducing "halvenings" will make HNT tokenomics easier to understand, say project contributors.

AccessTimeIconNov 19, 2020 at 6:31 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:32 a.m. UTC

Helium is hard-capping production of the tokenized fuel that powers its decentralized wireless network.

Under a newly passed improvement proposal, Helium miners will stop adding to the circulating supply of HNT tokens at 223 million, a figure they will reach sometime in 2070 once bi-annual “halvenings,” also new to the network, have reduced new HNT monthly issuance to a negligible amount.

But that inflation hard cap does not mean an end to HNT mining. Miners will continue to mint HNT tokens even after they hit 223 million by replacing burned tokens. Project contributors say this will continue to incentivize mining even after inflation subsides.

Called “net emissions,” the unique twist is made possible by the nature of the Helium network. HNT tokens are essentially data credits for users. They spend and burn their HNT supplies to share data across Helium’s low-power alternative to WiFi and cellular networks. Newly minted tokens replace the ones removed through user activity.

The token currently has a $74.5 million market cap, according to CoinGecko.

HNT’s tokenomics had already accounted for gradual inflation – sort of. Project contributor James Fayal told CoinDesk the network previously issued 5 million tokens monthly using an equilibrium model meant to keep inflation in check. 

But the coming changes will introduce a max supply that outside investors can more easily comprehend. 

“Historically the biggest sort of question people have had about Helium tokenomics, people that are interested, they look at and go, ‘Oh, that’s really cool. You know, I don’t want to get involved with a token that has an infinite supply.’”

Introducing a hard cap conceptually similar to that of Bitcoin's is meant to make the system more understandable to the crypto community, Fayal added.

Helium intends to implement the new tokenomics in time for HNT’s first scheduled halvening in August 2021.

The project, backed by a Series C funding round of $15 million from the likes of Union Square Ventures and Multicoin Capital, currently has roughly 12,500 hotspots in the wild. A third-party manufacturing deal announced in September has seemingly boosted the reach of the network.

“The Helium Network is growing like a weed largely, in part, due to the new RAK miners, which slashed the cost to entry by 50% and made mining HNT a more attractive enterprise,” said Multicoin investor and Decentralized Wireless Alliance President Tushar Jain. “At the current pace, I expect there to be more than 20,000 hotspots deployed around the world by the end of the year.”


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