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What happens to Bitcoin after all 21 million are mined?

Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency created by Satoshi Nakamoto, is well known for its finite supply of 21 million coins. This scarcity feature is incorporated into the Bitcoin protocol to help control inflation and guarantee that the digital currency remains valuable over the long term. As the mining process slowly approaches the 21 millionth Bitcoin, you may wonder – what happens to Bitcoin after all 21 million are mined? Let’s go into detail about the network dynamics of Bitcoin and the possible outcomes of mining all 21 million available coins.

Why is it important that there will only ever be 21 million Bitcoins?

The Bitcoin hard cap is simply the maximum number of Bitcoins that can ever be generated. This hard cap is set at 21 million BTC. Bitcoin’s supply limit, also known as its hard cap, is a fundamental feature of Bitcoin’s monetary policy. It is designed to form scarcity and prevent inflation in the crypto token.

Can Bitcoin’s hard cap of 21 million be changed?

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Yes, in theory, Bitcoin’s hard cap can be changed. However, in practice, it is very difficult, if not impossible to achieve. This is because for such a change to occur, it will have to be accepted by all miners, which makes it extremely difficult. 

What happens to Bitcoin after all 21 million are mined?

So what happens to Bitcoin after all 21 million are mined? After Bitcoin (or any other token) reaches its maximum supply, miners will no longer be able to create new coins.

Here are a few things that are likely to happen after all Bitcoins have been mined:

1. Scarce supply and mining rewards

Presently, the Bitcoin network rewards miners with new Bitcoins for validating transactions and securing the network. This process, called mining, is crucial for maintaining the integrity and security of the whole blockchain. As the total supply of 21 million Bitcoins is slowly mined, the block rewards for miners will eventually decrease over time. This will be followed by the halving events that happen approximately every four years.

2. Transaction fees and network security

After all 21 million Bitcoins are mined, miners will depend solely on transaction fees as their major source of income. Usually, transaction fees are paid by users to have their transactions included in the blockchain. These fees serve as an incentive for miners to keep securing the network. As the Bitcoin network matures and adoption increases, transaction fees are expected to play a more significant role in incentivizing miners and maintaining network security.

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3. Network upgrades and sustainability

As the Bitcoin network develops, developers and stakeholders may suggest upgrades and improvements to address scalability, security, as well as sustainability issues. Enhancements such as the Lightning Network for quicker and cheaper transactions, Taproot for efficiency and privacy, and other protocol upgrades may be enforced. This should guarantee the long-term viability and usability of Bitcoin as a digital currency and store of value.

4. Economic implications and value proposition

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The limited supply of 21 million Bitcoins greatly contributes to Bitcoin’s value proposition as a deflationary asset. With its finite and predictable supply, Bitcoin is usually compared to scarce and valuable commodities like gold. This comparison can potentially increase demand and price over time. As the last Bitcoin is mined, the scarcity factor is predicted to become even more apparent, which will likely lead to increased demand and value appreciation.

5. Ecosystem evolution and adoption

Beyond mining rewards and scarcity, the future of Bitcoin after all 21 million coins are mined will be shaped by certain factors. Factors like regulatory developments, technological advancements, institutional adoption, and user demand will determine the final outcome. As the cryptocurrency ecosystem matures and evolves, Bitcoin’s position as a decentralized digital investment and global payment system may become more notable. This may further drive adoption and innovation in the crypto space.

What happens to Bitcoin if miners stop?

If BTC mining stops, it will be impossible for new transactions to be confirmed on the blockchain. Also, it may compromise the security of the BTC network, as mining is crucial for maintaining its security. Miners help validate and secure transactions, which prevents double-spending.

What happens when max supply is reached in cryptocurrency?

After a crypto token attains maximum supply, the coin’s supply becomes static, meaning miners can no longer create new coins. However, the demand may continue to grow. A maximum cap, crypto investors hope, guarantees value gains. 

The debate on altering Bitcoin’s supply cap

Theoretically, Bitcoin’s supply cap can be altered by modifying its foundational code. Although Bitcoin functions on software, any modifications require consensus from all developers, stakeholders, as well as the broader community. 

Achieving such an agreement would mean all the nodes on the Bitcoin network taking up the proposed amendments. So ensuring unanimous approval is difficult due to Bitcoin’s innate design to remain unchanged. Also, implementing these changes may lead to a hard fork. 

What happens when BTC is fully mined?

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No extra bitcoins will be created when the Bitcoin supply reaches its upper limit. Hence, Bitcoin miners will most likely earn income just from transaction fees.

How many Bitcoins are mined per day?

Roughly 900 Bitcoins were mined per day globally in the first half of 2022. So every 10 minutes, miners confirm one block of Bitcoin transactions. The current reward miners get for verifying one block of Bitcoin is about 6.25 bitcoins. So, roughly 900 bitcoins are sent out into the market every day.

How many Bitcoins have been mined?

About 19.57 million Bitcoins tokens have been mined as of Dec. 18, 2023, leaving roughly 1.45 million Bitcoins to be released. The total supply of Bitcoin is capped at 21 million. 

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How long does it take to mine 1 Bitcoin?

Understanding Bitcoin mining and how it works

The time it takes miners to mine just one Bitcoin primarily depends on the total amount of the block reward or even how many new Bitcoins they are rewarded with for generating a new block. 

The current block reward is about 6.25 bitcoins, and a new block is generated roughly every 10 minutes. Hence, nearly 0.625 Bitcoins are mined by miners per minute. However, the blockchain doesn’t reward miners with coins by the minute. When the mining reward halves in 2024, it will be possible to mine approximately 0.3125 Bitcoins per minute.

The completion of mining all 21 million Bitcoins marks a significant milestone for the Bitcoin network and its ecosystem. So what happens to Bitcoin after all 21 million are mined? After the maximum cap of Bitcoins is reached, no new Bitcoins will be created. However, Bitcoin transactions will continue to be gathered into blocks and processed, and miners will still get rewarded, but most likely just with transaction processing fees. 

As Bitcoin continues to receive mainstream adoption and acceptance, its future after all coins have been mined seems promising. There is still potential for continued growth, innovation, as well as resilience in the ever-dynamic landscape of the digital currency.

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Emmanuel

Feb 26, 2024

6 mins read

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