The number of bitcoins mined has surpassed the 80% milestone, with more than 16.8 million bitcoins currently in supply of the 21 million that the cryptocurrency’s creator Satoshi Nakamoto made available.
The 16.8 millionth bitcoin was mined on January 13, meaning that only 4.2 million bitcoins are left to be mined before the cryptocurrency reaches its supply cap.
Rate of bitcoin creation is expected to slow down
Bitcoins are created each time a user discovers a new block, which is a record of recent bitcoin transactions that go onto the “blockchain”. The current reward for mining a block is 12.5 bitcoin. However, the number of bitcoins created per block drops over time – there is a 50% reduction every 210,000 blocks.
The reward for mining a block is expected to halve again sometime in 2020.
Given that the mathematical algorithms become more complex to compute and the financial returns diminish, the remaining 4.2 million bitcoin will become tougher for cryptocurrency miners to create. The rate of new coins being produced will also slow, with some people estimating that the last bitcoin won’t be mined until well into the 2100s.
It’s this artificial scarcity of bitcoin, given its relatively low supply cap, that’s thought to be one of the main reasons for its surge in value over the past year.
At the time of writing bitcoin is trading at around the $13,000 level, with a market cap of approximately $0.218 trillion.