What is a Coinbase or Generation Transaction?

13 Feb 2015

Bitcoin logo matrixThe Coinbase transaction, or Generation transaction, is a special transaction in the Bitcoin protocol that differs from a standard transaction as it creates coins from nothing.

It is the reward that miner gets for successfully mining a block.

The Bitcoin block reward is dependent on the number of blocks from the genesis block and the number of fees included in the transactions of the block.

First all the transactions to be included are assembled and then all their fees are summed.

This is then added to the block reward – which halves every 210,000 blocks or roughly every four years – in 2015 the reward will be 25 Bitcoins and will reduce by 50% to 12.5 Bitcoins per block in 2017. The maximum number of halving allowed in the bitcon protocol is 64 – this limit where only transaction will make up the block reward is expected to be reached in the year 2139.

The miner then creates the coinbase transaction to award himself the reward. This takes on a special format as shown below:

Coinbase generation transaction

The transaction hash is special alongside the output index where all the bits are set to o and 1 respectively. The coinbase data size is the size of the next field or the coinbase data field.

The coinbase data field can contain information such as the extra nonce, merged mining information and a list of the addresses of the mining pool where the funds are to be sent. The sequence number – all bits are set to 1.

Once a block has been mined and either sent to one address or the miners who participated in pool the block reward has to be confirmed by 100 blocks – or roughly six hours.

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