How many Bitcoins are there now?
At the time of writing, less than 2 million bitcoins (BTC) remain unmined, with about 19 million currently in circulation. Bitcoin’s scarcity is a key factor in its value because there can never be more than 21 million Bitcoins in circulation. Bitcoins can also not be created or destroyed, only lost. No matter what price Bitcoin is selling for, there will only ever be a fixed amount of BTC. This number cannot be changed.
How Many Bitcoins Are Mined Each Day?
In the first half of 2022, the daily worldwide bitcoin mining output was 900 coins. One block of Bitcoin transactions is validated every 10 minutes by miners. Currently, validating a Bitcoin block is worth 6.25 BTC, and at first, it was 50 BTC. Every four years, in a process known as “halving,” the reward for mining a block of transactions is halved. The block reward was cut from 12.5 Bitcoins to 6.25 Bitcoins in May 2020 at the last halving event. Due to halving, it is estimated that all Bitcoins will not be mined until 2140.
How Many Bitcoins Have Been Mined as of the First Half of 2022?
19.07 million Bitcoin had been mined by the first half of 2022, leaving only 1.93 million left to be mined.
Thousands of bitcoins have been stolen, in addition to the many that have been misplaced. In 2014, 850,000 bitcoins were stolen in a breach of the Tokyo cryptocurrency exchange Mt. Gox. And in 2016, hackers stole 150,000 bitcoin from the Bitfinex exchange in Hong Kong. While these bitcoins aren’t entirely gone from the market, they aren’t being actively traded for the simple reason that criminals may be too scared of getting caught and are instead keeping them in wallets.
Somewhere around four million Bitcoins are now completely gone for good. If a Bitcoin owner misplaces their hard drive or wallet containing their Bitcoins, or if they lose the private key to their cold storage wallet, then all of their Bitcoin will be gone. Bitcoins cannot be used or sold unless they are transferred from one wallet to another, which requires a private key. In the early days of cryptocurrency, when one bitcoin was just worth a few cents, many of the first users to buy Bitcoin were not as careful with their holdings and many were lost.
What Bitcoin Whales Are
A sizable number of bitcoins are held by early adopters who purchased Bitcoin. “Whales” are large Bitcoin holders who can move the market with their purchases and sales. Approximately 5 million (or 28 percent) of all Bitcoins are now held by about 1,600 entities.
Since Bitcoin’s launch, the anonymous creator (or creators) known only as Satoshi Nakamoto has allegedly kept a million bitcoins in a cold wallet. While some whales do engage in spending and trading their Bitcoins, the vast majority of their holdings are kept off-market.
What Will Happen After All the Bitcoin Has Been Mined?
If the current mining process remains unchanged, the final block of bitcoins might be mined around 2140. Although miners will still get paid from transaction fees, that revenue may or may not be enough to keep miners in business.
A rise in Bitcoin transaction costs might dissuade users. Without miners to keep the network running, Bitcoin could either fail completely or become controlled by a few people.
Can Bitcoin’s Hard Cap Change?
Bitcoin’s supply limit is fixed and cannot be increased. This caveat is embedded in Bitcoin’s design, the rules for community governance, and the incentive structure for miners. The hard cap of 21 million BTC has had positive effects due to the resulting scarcity.
A commodity is considered to have “absolute scarcity” when its supply is limited and cannot be increased in response to rising demand. The total number of Bitcoins that can ever be mined can never exceed 21 million.