• Bitcoin trading fees spiked at the same time as the halving.
  • Runes, a new protocol that allows traders to buy memecoins on Bitcoin, was the reason behind the activity.
  • Against expectations, miners saw their revenue triple in the wake of the halving.

The Bitcoin halving occurred in the early hours of Saturday, London time. The event slashed in half the amount of Bitcoin awarded to miners for maintaining the blockchain.

Naturally, it should have severely decreased mining revenue. But a new Bitcoin token protocol, Runes, launched on the blockchain at the exact same time the halving happened, and it sent trading fees soaring.

Miner revenue, instead of getting cut 50%, went up 200%, analysts from research firm Bernstein wrote on Monday.

And while the spike was “clearly abnormal,” sustained network activity — and the interest from traders and developers it entails — could provide firm support for miner revenue in the future, Bernstein said.

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Will Bitcoin fees stay high?

The Runes upgrade makes it easier for traders and developers to interact with tokens based on Bitcoin.

Miners bagged roughly $78 million in trading fees the day Runes launched, a surge “driven by speculative activity to mint new tokens — mostly meme tokens — by retail traders,” according to Bernstein.

Bitcoin rewards, meanwhile, halved to $29 million per day, which means that transaction fees accounted for roughly 73% of miner revenue over the course of the day.

Fees have since dropped to roughly $20 million per day, which is still a 170% increase from average daily fees in the week prior to the halving. As of this writing, transaction fees make up 40% of miner revenue, almost cancelling the effects of the halving on miners’ bottom lines.

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Although that’s good news for miners, the spike in fees made it more expensive for Bitcoin users to buy and sell Bitcoin. Transaction fees peaked at an all-time high average of $128 per transaction on Saturday, per BitInfoCharts.

That’s more than double the average fee at the previous peak, which came in April 2021 at the height of the previous bull market mania.

And even though fees dropped back down to $34 per transaction on Sunday, they are still at their highest point in four months.


Crypto hedge fund Pantera Capital said in February that a nascent Bitcoin DeFi ecosystem could make up between 8% and 50% of Bitcoin’s total value, if it follows the same blueprint as Ethereum.

With Bitcoin at $1.3 trillion in value, that means a Bitcoin DeFi ecosystem could potentially be worth anywhere between $100 billion and $650 billion.

While Runes doesn’t provide smart contract functionality and therefore cannot be used to build DeFi applications, it does give Bitcoin more utility and makes the blockchain more attractive for developers to build on it.

“Although Runes has launched with meme tokens, over time, we could see more utility based fungible tokens on Bitcoin,” Bernstein said.

Sustained transaction activity could also have an impact on the Bitcoin mining industry. Analysts from crypto exchange Coinbase have warned that the halving could cause the mining industry to consolidate, with big players scooping up smaller, less efficient operations.

That could end up having dire consequences for the Bitcoin network, because it could make the network more vulnerable to hostile takeovers.

But the consolidation of the mining industry may be delayed or even prevented if transaction fees remain high or grow even further — because miners will be able to rely on those fees more than on Bitcoin rewards.

Tom Carreras is a markets correspondent at DL News. Got a tip about Bitcoin mining? Reach out at tcarreras@dlnews.com

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