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On average, these bitcoins are introduced to the bitcoin supply at a fixed rate of one block every ten minutes. In fact, there are only 21 million bitcoins that can be mined in total. However, it's possible that bitcoin's protocol will be changed to allow for a larger supply. What will happen when the global supply of bitcoin reaches its limit? This is the subject of much debate among fans of cryptocurrency.
Currently, around This leaves less than three million that have yet to be introduced into circulation. While there can only ever be a maximum of 21 million bitcoin, because people have lost their private keys or have died without leaving their private key instructions to anybody, the actual amount of available bitcoin in circulation could actually be millions less.
The first With only three million more coins to go, it might appear like we are in the final stages of bitcoin mining. This is true but in a limited sense. While it is true that the large majority of bitcoin has already been mined, the timeline is more complicated than that. The bitcoin mining process rewards miners with a chunk of bitcoin upon successful verification of a block.
This process adapts over time. When bitcoin first launched, the reward was 50 bitcoin. In , it halved to 25 bitcoin. In , it halved again to On May 11, , the reward halved again to 6. This effectively lowers Bitcoin's inflation rate in half every four years. The reward will continue to halve every four years until the final bitcoin has been mined.
In actuality, the final bitcoin is unlikely to be mined until around the year However, it's possible the bitcoin network protocol will be changed between now and then. The bitcoin mining process provides bitcoin rewards to miners, but the reward size is decreased periodically to control the circulation of new tokens. It may seem that the group of individuals most directly affected by the limit of the bitcoin supply will be the bitcoin miners themselves. Some detractors of the protocol claim that miners will be forced away from the block rewards they receive for their work once the bitcoin supply has reached 21 million in circulation.
But even when the last bitcoin has been produced, miners will likely continue to actively and competitively participate and validate new transactions. The reason is that every bitcoin transaction has a transaction fee attached to it. These fees, while today representing a few hundred dollars per block, could potentially rise to many thousands of dollars per block, especially as the number of transactions on the blockchain grows and as the price of a bitcoin rises.
Ultimately, it will function like a closed economy , where transaction fees are assessed much like taxes. It's worth noting that it is projected to take more than years before the bitcoin network mines its very last token. In actuality, as the year approaches, miners will likely spend years receiving rewards that are actually just tiny portions of the final bitcoin to be mined.
The dramatic decrease in reward size may mean that the mining process will shift entirely well before the deadline. It's also important to keep in mind that the bitcoin network itself is likely to change significantly between now and then. Considering how much has happened to bitcoin in just a decade, new protocols, new methods of recording and processing transactions, and any number of other factors may impact the mining process.
Bitcoin Magazine. Your Money. Personal Finance. Your Practice. A significant number of bitcoins are also not in circulation. An estimated , coins, or 4. Skip Navigation. Markets Pre-Markets U. Key Points. The 17 millionth of 21 million bitcoins that will ever exist was "mined" Thursday, according to data from Blockchain. Due to rules behind the "mining" process, the remaining 4 million coins aren't expected to be mined completely for another years.
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Economic historian Niall Ferguson recently commented about how pandemics have been significant catalysts for financial innovation. Hence, Bitcoin has been getting mainstream attention for the first time and is slowly becoming normalized by various economic institutions. One of the key aspects of Bitcoin is that it has a limited supply.
Bitcoin mining is a process that creates new Bitcoins, and miners currently get 6. However, every four years, these rewards are halved, and therefore by , it will drop to 3. For miners, the issue is about supply constraints and that the process continues to get more challenging over time. Massive amounts of energy are used to mine Bitcoin coupled with costly equipment that needs to be continually upgraded.
A study showed that roughly 0. That number is likely to have risen considerably since then. On top of that, demand keeps increasing for the currency, and the pandemic has taken things up a notch or two. The regulatory and infrastructure developments have sparked mainstream investor interest. Hedge funds, pension funds, insurance companies, and payment platforms are scooping up a sizable number of Bitcoins every day.
Hence, in such a situation, Bitcoin still has ample runway to cruise into the six-figure territory. However, things are mighty different this time around as the currency has come of age in these unprecedented times. The recent price correction has investors biting their nails, but these fears appear to be overly exaggerated. Contrary to its skeptics, Bitcoin is not a bubble but a digital asset that will pay its investors for years to come.
Additionally, the development of new layers will enable the use of blockchain technologies in financial markets. An example of this is decentralized finance, which uses blockchain technologies to automate financial and digital markets. Fears of a Bitcoin bubble are a thing of the past. Some believe it could become a one-world currency, creating extremely high demand. But to me, that sounds far-fetched.
People don't seem to be using bitcoin for transactions but rather as a growth investment or as a digital store of value. In my opinion, bitcoin's demand as a store of value is far less than what it would be as a currency or some other everyday utility. That said, bitcoin's upside could still be great given its supply is far more limited than that of Ether. Consider there can only ever be 21 million bitcoin tokens. By contrast, Ether and many others have no ultimate ceiling. Ether has annual mining limits, which keeps new supply somewhat in check.
But bitcoin's mining process is even more limited. Every time there's a transaction on the bitcoin network, decentralized computers process it and the fastest computer is rewarded with new bitcoin tokens. However, every few years the bitcoin reward is cut in half, most recently in May.
This means miners are rewarded with 6. Because there's less bitcoin coming into circulation now, the price of bitcoin could go up if demand remains constant. A surprising development this year is new demand is suddenly pouring in from corporate entities.
For example, Square just bought over 4, bitcoin tokens. After considering the issue of supply and demand, here's my cryptocurrency investing thesis: Both bitcoin and Ether have high chances of being used in the future. And their supplies are limited enough to send the value of these tokens higher as demand surges. I believe that applies as much today as it did when I bought bitcoin and Ether in When I bought, I committed to holding for at least five years.
I made that commitment because, with two very speculative investments, I recognize this will likely be a volatile ride and I want to ensure I've given enough time for my thesis to play out. However, because this is speculative, I recognize the value of cryptocurrencies could plummet to zero. Accordingly, I only invested a small amount. And even though it appears my thesis is playing out, I won't consider adding more even as prices rise.
Since cryptocurrencies don't have intrinsic value, the risk is simply too asymmetric for me. If you like the promise of cryptocurrency but don't want the outsized risk, there are other ways to invest in the trend. Specifically, there are stocks benefiting from blockchain technology.
This allows you to purchase shares in real businesses generating real revenue from cryptocurrencies, rather than speculating on things outside of your control. Investing Best Accounts. Stock Market Basics. Stock Market. Industries to Invest In. Getting Started. Planning for Retirement. Retired: What Now? Personal Finance. Credit Cards. About Us. Who Is the Motley Fool?
Fool Podcasts. New Ventures. Search Search:. Dec 19, at AM. Author Bio After spending more than a decade travelling the world exploring different cultures and languages, I'm happy to now be contributing to the Motley Fool's mission to make the world smarter, happier, and richer. What's great about exploring business and the economy is the insight it gives you into how things are in the world.
While I no longer get to exercise my analytical muscles with linguistics, it's rewarding to analyze business and share my opinions through this platform. Appreciate my writing, have an idea for me, or is there an issue with something I wrote?