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How many bitcoins are there?
Right now, there are around 18.5 million bitcoins. But this does not mean that they are all usable. Among those 18.5 million, approximately 4 million bitcoins are lost, and around 1 million were stolen in various hacks such as the through Mt. Gox. That leaves us with a total of 13.5 million bitcoin.
We can also not forget the whales that are users who own a large number of bitcoins in their virtual wallets. Among these we find the founder of bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, who owns about 1 million bitcoins.
Around 5 million bitcoins are the capital handled by around 1600 whales. Which is an approximation of 28% of the total circulation, after removing all these coins that the whales have in their wallets, we are left with around 8 million bitcoins which is technically the number of cryptocurrencies that would be in constant circulation.
What is the maximum number of bitcoins that will ever enter circulation?
The maximum number of bitcoins that can be in circulation is 21 million bitcoins. Once the miners finish mining them all this supply will be exhausted. However, the bitcoin protocol may later change to allow for a larger supply.
Even though this is the maximum limit for now, there may be people who have died and were never told by anyone that they had an investment in bitcoins or for some reason they lost their password, which would leave thousands of bitcoins in limbo where they would not enter circulation and would cause the total number of bitcoins that are in circulation drops notably.
How many bitcoin miners are there?
It is estimated that around 1 million miners exist. This is an estimate since it is no longer a way of knowing how many miners are currently active, since mining pools do not have the legal need to say how many users they have and also a miner is not only dedicated to a single cryptocurrency.
This is just an imaginary number that we put to the number of miners that can be active since, even if we have data such as that in mining pool A it has 5 thousand users, in mining pool B of the 5 thousand users there can be 3 thousand too in A. causing that in A and B there are a total of 10 thousand users, but unique users between A and B are only 7 thousand.
Then this on a larger scale with the large number of mining pools that exist can give high numbers but users unique can be much less than the amount exposed.
How many bitcoins have been mined?
Would it be better to ask how many bitcoins are left to be mined? Since there are about 2.5 million bitcoins left to mine from the total of 21 million.
It is estimated that the last bitcoin will be mined in the year 2140 but because so far if there are 2.5 million left and we already have 18.5 in circulation because the less bitcoins left to be mined increases the amount of time to mine 1 bitcoin causing the miners to receive a much smaller portion than they receive now, which will cause the way a bitcoin is mined to change in the future.
when will bitcoin run out
When all the bitcoins are mined, that will be all for the moment there are no plans to add more bitcoins or increase the existing supply. This will happen around 2140, although it could be sooner or later depending on how the block times change.
But one of the big concerns is the security of the network since when there are no more bitcoins to mine, who will pay for the security of the network as bitcoin does now, paying almost 3.3 million a year in bitcoin to the miners with the rewards.
When it comes to that point, how to incentivize miners to keep the network secure? A clear answer to this would be transaction fees, but this would be a fee valuable enough for miners to continue to guarantee network security.
Year after year the rewards that bitcoin gives for mining a block are reduced reaching a point in the future where per block will not be enough to pay the amount of energy spent in mining that block
This is because bitcoin every 4 years is reduced by half the number of bitcoins produced per block, currently the reward of miners is 6.25 bitcoins per block. In 2024 it will drop to 3,125 bitcoins per block which causes the number of bitcoins given per block to be less and less, thus causing the last bitcoin to be mined on 2140
This leaves a question of what the future would bring if only in a decade the bitcoin network has changed a lot now in 120 years that will bring possible changes in how a bitcoin is mined or better protocols plus forks, improvements in transactions or even a possible fall total bitcoin