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19 millionth bitcoin has been mined, leaving 2 million to go

A milestone that has been anticipating for 13 years. The 19 millionth bitcoin was born. On Friday, April first at 5:35 PM, block 730,003 bitcoin number 19,000,000 was mined. An important moment for the world’s very first cryptocurrency. 2 million more to go and the maximum number of bitcoins has been reached. 

The 19 millionth bitcoin was mined by bitcoin mining pool SBI Crypto. The reward for finding the right block was 6.32 bitcoin (the block reward). This equates to approximately $293,000. Due to the maximum amount of bitcoins available – 21 million – bitcoin is scarce. This influx will only decrease over the coming years

Over 20% of all bitcoins lost

According to Chainalysis, a blockchain analytics organization, about a fifth of all bitcoins in the world have been lost. This is partly due to carelessness on the part of buyers themselves. When someone carries out a bitcoin transaction, they pay for it with their personal wallet. There is a password on this. To gain access to the wallet, the buyer uses his ‘private key’. 

This is a code that consists of at least 21 numbers and letters. If you do not store or register these properly, you can whistle for their bitcoins. There is in fact no bank that can restore the code, given the decentralized nature of blockchain. Research by Chainanalysis shows that 20 percent of all bitcoins have been lost because of this.

With the current supply of 19 million, this would equate to 3.8 million bitcoin that will never come into circulation again. Since the New York Times article is from January 2021, this percentage could have increased already.

The last bitcoin will be mined around 2140

Every 4 years, the reward for these miners to mine bitcoin halves. At the moment, miners receive 6.25 bitcoin per block that they mine, in 2024 that will already be 3.125 BTC. At the moment, 6.25 bitcoins are added per block, in about 10 minutes.

In the bitcoin algorithm, it is established that the last bitcoin will be mined around 2140. The mining of the current 2 million will therefore be spread over the next 118 years. These are put into circulation by people who mine bitcoins, and this is also the only way bitcoins are made. 

This reward halves, and this split continues until the last bitcoin. As a result, there will ever be a situation where the miners have to take 40 years – from 2100 to 2140 – to mine 1 whole bitcoin.

Halving event

The reward for a found block halves over the years. To be precise, this so-called ‘halving event’ takes place after every 210,000th block. As a result, miners received a reward of 50 bitcoin in 2009 and this is 6.25 bitcoin today.

The last bitcoin will be mined around the year 2140. So in the next 118 years it will be the turn of the remaining 2 million bitcoins. After that, no more new bitcoins are created, and we have to make do with the number that is in circulation. But this does not mean that miners are no longer needed. From this point, miners can approve bitcoin transactions and receive transaction fees as a reward. As a result, miners remain useful, even though nothing is mined.

Fortunately, each bitcoin can be divided into 100 million satoshis. Compare it to the pound that can be divided into dimes. Ultimately, there are 2.1 quadrillion satoshis to spend in the world.

Impact on price

Such a milestone of 19 million bitcoin can give a boost, but it will not be disastrous. In October 2019, during the ’18 million milestone’, the price was barely impacted. At a psychological level of 20 million bitcoin, or 21 million in 2140, that could have more effect.

In perspective

To better understand what this news means, it’s good to put these 19 million in perspective:

The British population now numbers about 67.22 million inhabitants. At the moment, every Brit could theoretically own just 0.28 bitcoin. However, this will only decrease over the centuries. Due to migration and people getting older, Trend Deck estimates that in 2041 there will be between about 72 million people living in the UK.

The comparison with millionaires, is another interesting angle. It is estimated that there are about 56 million millionaires on the planet. Right now there are 19 million bitcoins on the planet, so suppose every millionaire wants to have one bitcoin, it’d be impossible. 

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