Bitcoin is the world’s first entirely virtual currency. There are currently 18,749,318.75 bitcoins in existence. The number changes every 10 minutes as new blocks are mined. The estimated amount of Bitcoins that are mined per day is 900. 144 blocks are mined daily and each contains 6.25 Bitcoins. Because the number of miners is increasing, more hash power is produced.Because of this, now each block is mined in 9.5-minute intervals rather than 10. This means Bitcoins are created faster as miners increase. Therefore, on most days, more than 900 new bitcoins are created.
How many bitcoins are left to be mined?
There are currently 2,250,681.3 bitcoins left to be mined. 21 Million is the maximum number of Bitcoins possible to discover. Precisely, a total of 20,999,999,9769 bitcoins can be generated.
Cryptocurrency mining is a difficult and resourceful process that requires a lot of technical support. Mining uses computers to solve mathematical problems with a 64-digit solution to create new coins. Solving each algorithm generates one block of Bitcoin. So, the miner that solves the problem first, gets rewarded with a newly discovered Bitcoin.
The new coins when found, are stored in an online database called Blockchain.
How Many Bitcoin Have Been Stolen or lost?
It is unclear exactly how many bitcoins have been stolen. 850,000 BTC were stolen in the Mt.Gox hack, which was the largest Bitcoin hack ever. Bitfinex was hacked out of 120,000 BTC, in 2016. Together, it adds up to about 970,000 BTC that were stolen from major cryptocurrency Exchanges. However, it does not mean that all of that BTC is lost. It’s possible that these stolen coins are still circulating and the real hackers don’t own those Bitcoins anymore.
Other than that, there are lost bitcoins too, though the exact number cannot be calculated. A lot of Bitcoin is forever lost because of people who lost or forgot their Private Key(Password), required to access the Bitcoin Wallet. In addition, there are many cases of hardware theft and misplacement, failure of hardware where the user did not create a backup. These Bitcoins are impossible to retrieve. It is estimated that 3-4 million bitcoins are lost permanently.
What happens when all of 21 million Bitcoins are mined?
Right now, miners get most of their income from the block rewards. When all 21 million bitcoins are mined, there won’t be a block reward to pay to the miners. When a bitcoin is transferred a small fee is charged from the person who makes the transaction. That fee will be the only source of income left for the miners after all the bitcoins are mined.
Another possibility is that miners may form cartels among themselves. They might control the supply to set high transaction fees or a fee amount that guarantees them a minimum profit amount. After calculating the costs of their equipment and electricity for mining Bitcoins. Other than that miners could collude amongst themselves to hide new blocks and release independent blocks that are not confirmed by Bitcoin’s network. This practice will delay the production of the final block in Bitcoin’s network and ensure higher rewards for the new blocks when they are finally released into the network.
If Bitcoin keeps on gaining popularity as a medium of exchange, in the future, its transactions will increase as well. Bitcoin history has proven that there is a chance that the Bitcoin network might get slow. This happens because, Bitcoin’s architecture relies on a distributed database to hold copies of massive ledgers, which sacrifices speed for accuracy and reliability.
The bottom line
If, or when Bitcoin is completely mined, the Bitcoin miners will have to move from Block discovery rewards to the transaction fee charged from the users, as their main source of income. The development of new technologies, like the Lightning Network, may result in Bitcoin’s blockchain handling the transactions of huge amounts only. Or the ones that involve the movement of a significant number of bitcoins from one address of its blockchain to another. Bitcoin’s identity will also be defined better as a store of value and a medium of exchange.
But none of these predictions are set in stone. Bitcoins or any other cryptocurrency for this case are still new, and new developments are happening almost every day in this industry. Maybe, after a few years, developers find a way, to change the Bitcoin protocols which may help the miners to mine more than 21 Million Bitcoins, that they currently can.