The popularity of Bitcoin has grown rapidly over the past couple of years. Many tech experts were very optimistic about Bitcoin’s growth, but nobody expected it to take off as much as it did. Over 19.3 million Bitcoins have already been mined. So, how many are there left to mine?
- There are less than 1.7 million Bitcoins left to mine in 2023
- Out of a total limited supply of 21 million coins, more than 19.3 million have been mined
- A new Bitcoin is mined every 1.6 minutes
- The last Bitcoin will be mined in the year 2140
- The total number of Bitcoins is fixed at 21 million, however, stakeholders could change this if they wanted to edit the code, which can only happen if the majority agrees
How Many Bitcoins Are Left For Mining?
Analytics from 2023 show there are over 19.3 million Bitcoins currently circulating. That means over 91% of the total Bitcoin supply has already been mined and there are less than 1.7 million Bitcoins left for mining.
When Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin in 2008, he limited its supply to 21 million coins, to ensure a cryptocurrency without inflation. The Bitcoin code was designed so that just a certain number of Bitcoins are mined annually. By releasing the Bitcoins gradually, there is better control over the market. It would be an entirely different story if the code wasn’t designed that way and all the 21 million were released into the market at once. Just like fiat currency, Bitcoins are intended for transactional use as well. Therefore, if there are too many Bitcoins, its price could fluctuate wildly.
The Total Bitcoin Supply In Circulation
The mining end date for Bitcoin is definitely approaching, but keep in mind that not all of the Bitcoins mined so far are circulating. This decreased the total amount of Bitcoins at any moment. There are other reasons why the existing supply of Bitcoins doesn’t match the total number of bitcoins mined.
One is that people use passwords and wallets to protect their assets. If the owner of the Bitcoins passes away, nobody will ever be able to access them without knowing the password.
So, how many Bitcoins are circulating at the moment? The best and easiest way to calculate that is by taking the 19.3 million that are supposed to be in circulation and subtract the assets that are trapped in inaccessible wallets.
Is The Total Amount Of Bitcoin Fixed?
The number of Bitcoins left for mining, as well as the total Bitcoin supply are fixed. However, the stakeholders could do something about it if they wanted to. Back when Satoshi invented Bitcoin, it was still an open-source project. The stakeholders decided to edit the code and increase the limit of Bitcoins. Something like this may happen again if the majority agrees.
The “majority” includes the community along with stakeholders and developers. If an agreement was reached, theoretically the developers could change the supply cap by altering the code. But for everything to function properly, all the nodes on the network would either have to accept the code changes or be forced off the Bitcoin network. Still, the impact that this type of change can have would be controversial and definitely highly debatable.
Other Factors Affecting the Bitcoin Supply
Lost or Inaccessible Bitcoins
One significant factor affecting the Bitcoin supply is the presence of lost or inaccessible Bitcoins. Since Bitcoin operates on a decentralized network, users are responsible for safeguarding their private keys to access their coins. Unfortunately, instances of lost or forgotten private keys have resulted in Bitcoins becoming permanently inaccessible. This loss reduces the overall supply of Bitcoins available for circulation and mining.
No one can say for sure how many Bitcoins are lost, because lost Bitcoins appear the same on the blockchain as those that are not lost. However, it is estimated that about 3.5 million Bitcoins are lost forever, based on how long they have remained unmoved in their addresses.
The same goes for stolen Bitcoins - no one knows for sure how many there are. What we do know is that about 850,000 were stolen in the largest hack ever, known as the Mt. Gox hack. In addition to that, about 120,000 were stolen from Bitfinex 6 years ago.
Almost a million Bitcoins have been stolen so far. However, those Bitcoins aren’t actually lost and are most likely still circulating. What’s more, they may not even be in the hands of those who stole them anymore.
Potential for Changes in Bitcoin's Protocol
Bitcoin's protocol is not set in stone and can be modified through consensus among its community of users. While any changes to the protocol require broad agreement, there is a possibility of modifications that could impact the Bitcoin supply. For example, a consensus-driven decision to increase the total supply of Bitcoins beyond the current limit of 21 million could be made. However, such a change would require careful consideration of the potential consequences and implications for the network's stability and value proposition. Any alterations to the protocol affecting the Bitcoin supply are subject to extensive debate and scrutiny, emphasizing the importance of consensus and maintaining the integrity of the network.
How Long Does Mining One Bitcoin Take?
The amount of time it takes to mine one Bitcoin depends on the block reward. The block reward is the number of Bitcoins that miners will receive in return for generating a new block. At the time of writing, one new block is generated on average every 10 minutes. The reward for each block is 6.25 Bitcoins. Therefore, a new Bitcoin is mined every 1.6 minutes.
Do Mining Fees Disappear After The Supply Limit Is Reached?
Once the Bitcoin supply reaches the limit of 21 million in the year 2140, the mining fees will disappear. At that point, miners will earn income from transaction fees only, rather than from both transaction fees and block rewards.
People often wonder whether Bitcoin’s worth will be like bars of gold or pocket change 100 years from now. As the ecosystem of Bitcoin is still developing, it has the potential to continue functioning over the following decades. Reaching the supply limit will affect crypto miners the most. However, that doesn’t mean that Bitcoin investors will go through this easily.
Right now, there are less than 1.7 million Bitcoins left to mine. The total amount of Bitcoins is currently fixed but there is a possibility to change that. The underlying code could be edited and the total supply limit could be increased. However, for something like that to happen, the whole community along with developers and stakeholders would have to agree.
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