What Happens After 21 Million Bitcoins Are Mined?

As of the beginning of 2023, the count of existing bitcoins stood at 19,276,325. This left 1,723,675 bitcoins yet to be mined before reaching the 21 million cap.

A fundamental characteristic of Bitcoin (BTCUSD) is its constrained coin supply. The ingenious creator behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto devised the cryptocurrency with a deliberate limitation on its issuance. This intentional scarcity over time tends to elevate both demand and price.

Approximately every 10 minutes, new bitcoins are injected into the Bitcoin supply, aligning with the average time needed to generate a fresh Bitcoin block.

Following a deliberate blueprint, the number of bitcoins minted per block is slashed by 50% after every 210,000 blocks—roughly a four-year interval.

🚀 Key Topicsℹ️ Key Info to Consider
Bitcoin Supply LimitBitcoin has a maximum total supply of 21 million coins. However, the actual number may be slightly below due to rounding.
New Bitcoin Creation ProcessNew bitcoins are added to the supply approximately every 10 minutes through mining new blocks.
Reduction of Block RewardsThe number of new bitcoins minted per block reduces by 50% every 210,000 blocks, occurring approximately every 4 years.
Upper Supply Limit and Miners’ IncomeWhen Bitcoin’s supply limit is reached, no new bitcoins will be generated. Miners will earn from transaction fees.
Impact on Bitcoin Miners and InvestorsReaching the supply limit will significantly impact Bitcoin miners. The future of Bitcoin’s value and miners’ income varies.
Total Bitcoins MinedAs of January 2023, around 19.39 million bitcoins have been mined, with about 1.7 million still to be released.
Mining Time and Block RewardsThe time to mine one bitcoin depends on block rewards. Currently, a block is produced every 10 minutes with a reward of 6.25 bitcoins.
Mining Fees and Supply LimitMining fees will disappear when Bitcoin’s supply reaches 21 million. Miners’ income will be mainly from transaction fees.
Bitcoin’s Evolution and Impact on MinersBitcoin’s future evolution will affect miners’ income. No new bitcoins will be released after the 21-million coin limit.
SourcesCoinMarketCap, Bitcoin.org, GitHub, Chainalysis

Will Bitcoins Ever Reach 21 Million?

The total number of bitcoins is not expected to hit 21 million. This is due to the Bitcoin network‘s use of bit-shift operators, which round decimals down to the nearest small integer.

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This rounding happens when the block reward for creating a new Bitcoin block is halved, and the new reward amount is calculated. This reward is measured in satoshis, with one satoshi being 0.00000001 bitcoins.

Since a satoshi is the smallest unit in the Bitcoin network and can’t be split in half, the Bitcoin blockchain uses bit-shift operators to round down to the nearest whole integer when calculating new rewards by halving satoshis.

This systematic rounding down of Bitcoin block rewards, using fractions of satoshis, leads to the total number of bitcoins likely falling just shy of 21 million.

With the number of new bitcoins per block halving roughly every four years, the final bitcoin (or the final satoshi) isn’t expected to be created until 2140. Initially, 50 new bitcoins were minted per block when Bitcoin started, which has reduced to 6.25 as of May 2020. The next halving, to 3.125, is projected around 2024.

Bitcoin rewards are halved approximately every four years. Although a maximum of 21 million bitcoins can be created, the number of circulating bitcoins is likely to remain well below that.

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Bitcoin holders can lose access to their bitcoins by losing private keys or passing away without sharing wallet details. A June 2020 Chainalysis study estimates that up to 20% of already issued Bitcoins may be permanently lost.

What Happens When All 21 Million Bitcoins Are Mined?

Once the maximum quantity of bitcoins is attained, even if it slightly falls short of 21 million, no new bitcoins will be generated.

Bitcoin transactions will persist in being grouped into blocks and processed, and Bitcoin miners will continue to receive compensation, but primarily through transaction processing fees.

The culmination of Bitcoin’s supply limit is anticipated to impact Bitcoin miners, yet the extent of this impact relies in part on Bitcoin’s evolution as a cryptocurrency. If the Bitcoin blockchain handles a substantial number of transactions in 2140, miners may still profit solely from transaction processing fees.

Should Bitcoin in 2140 primarily function as a store of value rather than for everyday purchases, miners can still potentially profit, even with reduced transaction volumes and the disappearance of block rewards.

Miners can impose higher transaction fees to handle substantial transactions or large batches of transactions, aided by more efficient “layer 2” blockchains like the Lightning Network that work alongside the Bitcoin blockchain to facilitate daily Bitcoin spending.

How Many Bitcoins Have Already Been Mined?

By January 2023, a total of 19.39 million bitcoins had been mined, leaving around 1.7 million bitcoins still to be released. The complete bitcoin supply is set at a limit of 21 million.

How Much Time Does It Take to Mine a Single Bitcoin?

The duration required to mine one bitcoin hinges on the block reward’s quantity and the number of new bitcoins granted to crypto miners for generating a fresh block. Presently, the block reward stands at 6.25 bitcoins, and approximately every 10 minutes, a new block is created.

This equates to .625 bitcoin being mined every minute. As the reward halves in 2024, roughly 0.3125 bitcoins will be mined per minute.

What Happens to Mining Fees When Bitcoin’s Supply Reaches 21M?

Mining fees for Bitcoin will vanish once the supply of bitcoins reaches 21 million. Following this, miners are likely to generate income primarily from transaction processing fees rather than a combination of block rewards and transaction fees.

Final thoughts

Will Bitcoin serve as everyday currency or a precious asset like gold in 2140? The Bitcoin ecosystem remains in its developmental phase, suggesting that Bitcoin’s evolution will persist in the years to come.

Regardless of how Bitcoin changes, no additional bitcoins will be introduced once the 21-million coin limit is reached. This supply limit’s achievement is expected to profoundly influence Bitcoin miners, with potential repercussions extending to Bitcoin investors as well.



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Pavlos Written by:

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