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One of the core features of the Bitcoin currency is its limited supply. The importance of a limited supply has never been more apparent than now, as central banks around the world ramp up their money printing to unprecedented levels.  

Gold is valuable because no matter how high the price only a small amount can be mined every year. Bitcoin takes this scarcity to the next level! No matter what price Bitcoin is selling for, only a predetermined number of BTC will ever exist. This makes Bitcoin the hardest currency in the world.

How many Bitcoins are currently in circulation as of 2020?

As of 2020, there are just over 18 Million Bitcoins in existence. However, not all of them are actually usable. Among those 18 million, approximately 4 million bitcoins are lost whereas, around 1 million were stolen in various hacks and heists such as that of through Mt. Gox. That leaves us with 13 million bitcoins. There are people who own a huge number of bitcoins stashed away in their wallets. Among these people is the founder of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakomoto, whose public address is home to about 1 million bitcoins which are roughly worth 10 billion US dollars.

As of today, about 5 million of bitcoin belong to around 1600 individuals. That’s about 28% of the total circulation. After taking away all these unreachable coins, bitcoins left with a mere 44% of the total technical bitcoins in existence. That’s about 8 million in total.

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How many Bitcoins are lost?

Although these figures make it seem like there are 18.5 million BTC that are ripe for the taking right now, this isn’t exactly true.

According to research from the blockchain intelligence firm Chainalysis, about 3.7 million BTC has been lost forever. Crypto assets that fall into this category haven’t been moved from their current wallet address for five years or longer. There have been countless stories about people who lost access to their crypto after accidentally throwing away their private keys – which are comparable to the password to a bank account, or the PIN code for a debit card.

How Many Bitcoins Are Left to Mine?

How many of the 21 million Bitcoins are really left?

There are 2.6 million Bitcoin left to be mined. Surprisingly, even though 18.4 million Bitcoin were mined in just over 10 years, it will take another 120 years to mine the remaining 2.6 million.

That’s because of the Bitcoin halving. Every four years the number of Bitcoins produced per block (a new block is created every 10 minutes) are cut in half. Currently, the mining reward is 6.25 Bitcoin per block. In 2024 it will drop to 3.125 BTC per block.

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When Will the Last Bitcoin Be Mined?

The short answer is: likely sometime in 2140 when the last Bitcoin halving is expected to occur.

It is hard to know for sure, though. New blocks are added approximately every 10 minutes. The further out we try to predict when specific halvings will occur, the harder it is. Over 120 years, a lot can change, and so it may happen sooner or later, perhaps even by more than a year.

But one of the big concerns is the security of the network since when there are no more bitcoins to mine, who will pay for the security of the network as bitcoin does now, paying almost 3.3 million a year in bitcoin to the miners with the rewards. When it comes to that point, how to incentivize miners to keep the network secure? A clear answer to this would be transaction fees, but this would be a fee valuable enough for miners to continue to guarantee network security.

Conclusion

However, it is not necessary that the end of supply must mark negative consequences. With a known limited supply of the cryptocurrency, it can appreciate in value and become a safe-haven investment falling in the basket of investment vehicles like gold and other precious metals. It is also possible that developers might agree to unanimously increase the supply to maintain the stability of the network.

It sure is a farfetched thought, over 120 years to be exact, to speculate on the situation that would arise because of depleted supply of Bitcoin, but it definitely gives rise to interesting theories. What are your thoughts?

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