How Many Bitcoins Are left?
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If there is one thing that has grabbed the attention of virtually everyone in the globe over the past few years, then it is Bitcoin. The world’s leading cryptocurrency has been the subject of discussion by governments and financial institutions across the globe.
One of the features of Bitcoin that has been discussed and debated is its total supply. The developer of the digital currency Satoshi Nakamoto created the currency with the aim of taking power away from financial institutions and enabling people to control their finances. Bitcoin, however, was developed with a limited supply. Questions regarding the current supply and how to know when the total supply has been mined continues to grow every day.
In this article, we are going to look how much bitcoins are left and much more.
How many Bitcoins are there?
The question; how many Bitcoins are there is one that will be asked on a daily basis. The total number of Bitcoin has been capped at 21 million. This means that no more than 21 million BTC can ever be in existence. At the moment, there are roughly 16,800,000 BTC in circulation. This implies that of the total 21 million Bitcoins to be mined, 80% has already been mined. When the developer(s) introduced the protocol of the digital currency to the public back in 2009, Bitcoin came with a cap of only 21 million. The supply of the currency cannot be increased, with 21 million the total number of Bitcoins to be mined. The plan of Satoshi and miners securing the Bitcoin network have been able to guard the total cap rule. Despite this, there are some people who believe that the total supply of Bitcoin can be increased using tactics such as a 51 percent or Sybil attack, both of which are manipulative. Bitcoin has been existence for close to a decade now, and no one has been able to break the total supply rule set by Satoshi.
There are some people who are also concerned that other cryptocurrencies have a similar cap as Bitcoin. That notion is completely false. For example, Ethereum, which is the second largest cryptocurrency in terms of market value has been capped at 72 million. Ether (Ethereum’s token) is capped on an annual basis of 18 million ethers and will last for a period of four years.
Other cryptocurrencies also have their own total supply cap. Some of them include;
- AntShares-NEO (capped at 100 million)
- Litecoin (capped at 84 million)
- Ripple (capped at 100 billion)
- Veritaseum (capped at 100 million)
- IOTA (capped at 2.8 billion)
- BitShares (capped at 100 million)
- Stem (capped at 250 million)
- Dash (capped at 18.9 million)
- EOS (capped at 1 billion)
How many Bitcoins are left to be mined?
If we have mined roughly 17 million Bitcoins, then how many Bitcoins are left? The total number of Bitcoin left to be mined now stands at 4.2 million. This represents roughly 20% of the total 21 million Bitcoin supply. Even with that, some analysts suggest that roughly 30% of the total Bitcoin supply might be lost forever as a result of issues such as hard drive crash or destruction, misplaced or forgotten private keys and stuff like that.
The total supply cap of Bitcoin was originally designed to fight the traditional methods of banking. Since it was created to counter issues such as inflation, the cap was necessary. This is why Bitcoin is described as a very libertarian, very anti-quantitive easing and printing money or minting of digital currency.
By the end of 2009, a total of 1,623,400 Bitcoins were in circulation. The figure rose to 5,010,150 Bitcoins by the end of 2010. This increase represents a 300% from the previous year. The total Bitcoin supply was up to 8 million by December 31st, 2011, representing a 60% increase from the 5 million recorded the previous year. A 25% growth was recorded over the next one year as the total Bitcoin supply rose to 10, 60,975 by the end of 2012.
The percentage growth dropped the following year to 20% as the Bitcoin total supply clocked 12,194,575 by December 30th, 2013. It further dropped to 8% growth, with the total supply reaching the 13 million mark in 2014. The growth percentage, however, increased to 15% in 2015 as the total Bitcoin supply reached 15,025,000 by the end of that year. By December 2016, the supply has increased to 16,069,712.50, representing a growth percentage of 6.6%. By December 29, 2017, the total Bitcoin supply stood at 16,770,625. It is apparent that it is becoming harder to mine Bitcoin as the 21 million cap approaches, this happens because of halving (I’ll explain more below). The supply as of January 2018 stood at 16,794,762.50 Bitcoins.
What determines how many Bitcoins are left?
The remaining 4.2 million Bitcoins that aren’t in circulation are in a pool that is designed to rewarding the miners for maintaining the integrity of the Bitcoin network. With the validation of transactions and creation of new blocks, miners receive BTC from that pool as a reward. The initial reward for mining each block was 50 BTC but has been halved since multiple times, and it is expected to be 6.25 BTC per block by 2020.
According to the source code, the reward for mining a block is set in a way so as to become half after each set of 210,000 blocks is mined. For instance, if the mining reward for a block is 25 BTC, it will reduce to 12.5 BTC after the mining of 210,000 blocks.
Where it takes an average of 10-11 minutes for a block to get mined, the reward for mining, a block gets halved after every 210,000 blocks. This event is termed as a halving.
Since the time bitcoin hit the market, there have been two halving events in total. Currently, the mining reward for a block sits at 12.5 Bitcoins, while initially, it began with 50 Bitcoins.
It is estimated that after a total of 64 halving events, 100% of Bitcoin’s supply would be mined with a total of 21 million BTC in circulation. With a halving event occurring roughly every four years, this is expected to happen in around the year 2140.
When will there be no Bitcoins left?
Every time a new block is mined and added to the Bitcoin network, the freshly mined Bitcoins are rewarded to the miner that discovered the block. The reward was initially set at 50 BTC but then dropped to 25 BTC in 2012. In 2016, the reward was further halved to 12.5 BTC, and it is expected to drop to 6.25 BTC very soon. This process is known as halving (cutting the mining reward per block by half).
The halving process occurs every 4 years and after a total of 64 halvings, the Bitcoin network wouldn’t have any BTC to reward miners as all of the 21 million Bitcoins will be in circulation. The estimated date for this is the year 2140. Some analysts expect the date to be May 7, 2140, if mining power remains constant over the coming years. At the moment, about 657,000 BTC is produced per year, starting from 2016. The number of mined Bitcoins reduce per year due to halving. The bitcoin network started mining with a total capability of 6400 Bitcoins per day. This figure was halved to 3200 in 2012, and further halved to 1800 in 2016. A total of 1800 Bitcoins will be mined till 2020 when the next halving will occur. The halving will continue every four years until the 21 million Bitcoins have been mined and is estimated to be in 2140.
Bitcoin’s Future after 2140
One of the questions that have bothered investors, traders, and miners is what will happen to BTC after the distribution is over. If that happens, the world of Bitcoin won’t come crashing down. Far from it. Besides rewards mining, the Bitcoin network has other opportunities such as transaction fees.
At the moment, transaction fees account for only a tiny amount of the fraction that is being sent. However, some analysts believe that as the reward for mining goes down, the transaction fees will likely increase alongside the value of Bitcoin.
The increase in transaction fees is expected to become so valuable that miners will be motivated to stay and hold the network together. Even though new Bitcoins wouldn’t be mined by 2140, miners will still get paid, and that means the integration of the Bitcoin network will stay intact.
At the moment, 80% of the total Bitcoin supply is already in circulation, with the remaining 20% expected to be mined from now till 2140. It is worth noting that every cryptocurrency has its own total supply cap. Despite the halving process, miners will still be attracted to the Bitcoin network due to certain advantages such as the increase in transaction fees as the value of the currency increases.
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