What if All Bitcoins Are Mined and No Bitcoin is Available for Mining?
In the future, projected around 2140, all bitcoin will have been mined. This means that no additions to the blockchain can be made. What this means for bitcoin users is unclear but what is certain is that a lot of rules will change – including how fees work and how transactions are broadcasted.
The last bitcoin is expected to be mined sometime around the year 2140.
There’s a limited supply of bitcoin available, with a maximum limit of 21 million. This amount is predetermined by the source code for bitcoin, which is set in stone and can’t be changed. Once all bitcoins have been mined, the amount in circulation will be finite.
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Mining becomes less profitable as the number of bitcoins approaches its supply cap. The process will still take a lot of time to complete, but it’s a major implication. Bitcoin miners will still be rewarded in the 2020s, although their income will mostly come from transaction fees instead of newly minted coins.
Out of the possible 21 million bitcoins to be mined, there are only 18.7 million left up for grabs. The final bitcoin won’t be uncovered until around 2140, as estimated. New bitcoins are mined at a gradual, fixed rate. Each block of bitcoin rewards the miner with 50 bitcoins’ worth of bitcoin. That number halves every 210,000 blocks to branch out the supply of bitcoins to 16 million within three years, ensuring that supply meets demand. As of 2022, the reward for mining a bitcoin block has diminished from 50 BTC to just 6.25 BTC over the past decade.
The mining process for bitcoin was relatively quick at first: half of the 21 million possible coins had been found by late 2012, according to research firm Messari. In 2021, issuance slowed down a great deal, and less than 1/2 million BTC were found during the year.
If the limit on bitcoin supply is reached, it will likely cause an increase in its price. This is because anyone who wants to get some bitcoin will have to get it from someone else, meaning that sellers are more in control of the price.
Also, read – Bitcoin Security: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
It’s been estimated that even once all bitcoins have been mined, there will still be far fewer than 21 million in circulation. Data analytics firm Chainalysis estimates that a fifth of all bitcoins mined to date is likely lost. This means that people are unintentionally locking bitcoins inside wallets. This could be due to passwords being lost, physical hard drives being lost with access to the wallet’s keys, or even wallets belonging to somebody who died without passing on the password.