Bitcoins first came into existence in 2009. Since their inception, they have grown in popularity, and now more and more people are investing in bitcoins and learning about them. At a time, there were speculations that investors or miners continue to mine bitcoins in an unlimited and uncontrolled manner.
A large number of investors and traders are investing in bitcoins. Each day, coders are mining bitcoins. But, only very few people know the limit of bitcoins that are currently available in the market. As there is a massive wealth of bitcoins available now, crypto enthusiasts assume that bitcoin mining is not limited. But, the truth is known to very few.
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It is just the beginning and the investors are already actively reaping all the benefits. But, the amount of bitcoins that can be mined is strictly restricted and there is no sign of increasing the limit until 2140 at least, as we know.
How many bitcoins have been mined so far?
As of 2023, 18.78 million bitcoins have already been mined, which amounts to 83 percent of the entire bitcoin count in existence right now. There are still only 2 million bitcoins left to be mined. However, the market capitalization of the entire 18.78 million bitcoins that are mined amounts to $866 billion.
Also, according to experts, 97 percent of all bitcoins are estimated to be mined from a decade from now. However, there are no chances of the remaining 3% bitcoins coming into existence anytime near this century. Experts estimate that this remaining wealth may be renewed in the next century.
Experts concur that there is a reason for this tight limit on bitcoin mining. The process is called halving. Halving is the process of restricting miners to limited mining or limiting the mining process itself. As bitcoins are currently limited to a fixed rate, which is one block in ten minutes, the bitcoins in circulation is restricted.
The benefit of limiting:
The reasoning behind limiting the bitcoins in circulation is quite straightforward. There is a simple formula in economics. The rarer the commodity, the more expensive is its value.
Hence, experts believe for this reason the bitcoins are fixed to 21 million only. Also, it is estimated that the price is bound to shoot up in the near future, as the crowd or demand is currently increasing for cryptocurrencies, and bitcoins in general. In contrast to legal tender, or fiat currency as popularly referred to as bitcoins are limited. Hard currency doesn’t have such limits but, they are promptly regulated to control inflation and many other similar reasons. The same doesn’t apply for cryptocurrency.
The limited supply as well as increasing demand will definitely improve the value of bitcoins in the days to come, according to estimations and reports.
Will the limit ever be changed?
The current limit of 21 million coins in existence is decided back when the bitcoins were initially launched. However, it is not intended to curb the circulation altogether with the passage of time or continue it indefinitely till eternity. Right now, the mining limit is at 21 million and the limit continues till 2140. That is a lot of time and the demand has been increasing exponentially day by day.
There is no clause or statement that even after 2140 the limit of bitcoin will remain to be 21 million. The chances are high, considering the rising demand and interest, that the bitcoins in circulation will be increased after 2140.
What happens when all the bitcoins are mined?
Right now, the exact time when the last bitcoin will be mined is hard to depict or predict. Currently, when each new bitcoin is mined, miners are rewarded with blocks. That’s how miners earn their income. If all the bitcoins are mined as per the predictions, the miners will no longer be able to mine and earn these rewards.
There will be no scope left for miners to mine because all the bitcoins are already mined. The situation remains the same until 2140. If the new bitcoins are created, then the mining can restart again.
Complexity of mining:
There is a general misconception that 21 million bitcoins is a really small number to be mined in a century and that these 21 million will be mined in just half of the time. But, there is a twist here. These 21 million bitcoins are easy to mine in a century only if the coding is easy. The coding level to mine each bitcoin increases with the next bitcoin you are mining for.
So, as has been mentioned above, if you are mining 100th bitcoin, you will need 100 times more mental and physical energy, the time required to mine one bitcoin increases, and the electric energy too. So, complexity of every aspect increases making it harder and harder to mine a single bitcoin, which was way easier for the first one you have mined.
It has always been this way for bitcoins. First there was no demand and recognition for virtual currency. Now it is widely acknowledged, but the circulation is tightly limited. That leaves the bitcoin market highly saturated. However, as has been discussed, the complexity of mining increases with each stage.
Hence, there is no way that the entire bitcoins in limit are going to be mined until 2140 because as the miner reaches the end bitcoin the mining or coding difficulty level increases to over 1000 times more.