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Bitcoin has turned out to be the most valuable cryptocurrency in the world. The fact that most companies and businesses around the have embraced the use of Bitcoin has increased its popularity significantly. However, what makes Bitcoin even more popular is the fact that its total limit is capped at 21 million coins.

The Bitcoin blockchain is incapable of minting new coins or getting rid of the ones already in supply (though you can burn coins by sending them to a wallet that no one has the private keys to). Mining is the only way of adding new, untouched Bitcoins into circulation. However, as more Bitcoins are released through mining, mining difficulty increases. Over time as more miners compete to mine Bitcoin, fewer and fewer “new” Bitcoins will enter into circulation especially when factoring in the halving.

How many Bitcoins are there right now?

The total amount of Bitcoins that have been mined and are in in circulation as of 2020 is 18 million. This however doesn’t mean that all of them are in use. Some of them have likely been lost forever, stuck in wallets that cannot be accessed or on hard drives that have found their way to the landfill.

How many Bitcoins are lost?

Out of the 18 million, it is estimated that 4 million BTC are lost while a total of one million are alleged to have been stolen through various hacking incidents and heists that have occurred over the years.

That means there are likely only 13 million BTC that are genuinely in circulation. It is also important to note about the “Whales” – people who own huge amounts of Bitcoins and hidden away in their wallets. Among such Whales is the founder of Bitcoin called Satoshi Nakamoto who is said to be in possession of 1 million Bitcoins – equivalent to about 10 billion US dollars.

As of 2020, it is estimated that approximately 1600 whales own more than 5 million bitcoins – a figure that’s almost 28% of the total Bitcoins in circulation.

What is the current supply of Bitcoin?

When all these untouchable bitcoins are removed, we are left with only 44% of bitcoins in existence. That’s equivalent to a total of eight million Bitcoins.

How are Bitcoins in circulation limited?

The Bitcoin blockchain is designed to release a certain number of Bitcoins through the process of halving. After every four years, the amount of BTC being rewarded is halved through a process known as Bitcoin halving.

The reward process as a result of mining is designed to decrease or reduce after every 210,000 mined blocks. Considering the fact that the combined time of solving is approximately 10 minutes, it takes about 4 years to get to the next halving point.

As per the above calculations, the reward is divided into two until it reaches a point where there is nothing to reward for BTC. That means the halving process will end almost 120 years from now – the year 2140. At this time the nodes are expected to have mined the entire 21 million bitcoins which is the maximum supply.

How much time is required to mine one Bitcoin?

The average time of mining each BTC is 10 minutes. The rigs creating the new block divide the reward among themselves. The reward currently stands at 12.5 BTC but is bound to change as a result of the halving process. The speed of mining generally depends on the equipment being used to mine.

The higher the processing power of the machine being used, the more BTC will be processed. Several computer manufacturers have tailor-made machines for Bitcoin mining.

The Bitcoin mining reward

The mining reward as of 2020 stands at 12.5 bitcoins per mined block. Since it was launched in 2008, the halving process has taken place twice i.e. in 2012 and the next one set for 2020. The mining reward will be reduced to 6.25 after the third BTC halving.

At the moment, the total amount of BTC mined comes to around 18 million – which is very close to the 21 million set limit. In other words, 85% of the total number of BTC has already been mined.

However, bearing in mind that the reward reduces with times, it means that the remaining 20% of Bitcoins will be distributed for a period of 120 years.

Why are Bitcoins limited to 21 million?

Anyone would wonder why the founder of BTC (Satoshi Nakamoto) thought that it was a good idea to limit the bitcoin supply.

The logic behind his, her or their decision was to create a supply and demand balance that is automatically adjustable. This concept has proved to be in strong opposition to the mode used by the traditional banking system.

One major setback with the traditional banking system is their ability to curb the supply – hence controlling inflation and people’s purchase power.

Can more Bitcoin be created?

It is not impossible to create more Bitcoin beyond the 21 million limit that is dictated in the Bitcoin code.