The Bitcoin coin was created by Satoshi Nakamoto about 13 years ago, and it was designed to slowly release its total supply from storage into circulation through a mining mechanism. Bitcoin’s mining community will receive 50 Bitcoins for every solved block.
The amount will be cut in half after 210,000 blocks, as will the new amount of 25 BTC per block, after another 210,000 blocks have been solved. The process will continue until all coins have been released. This so-called halving, however, has released 90% of BTC’s supply over the first 13 years of mining. Approximately 120 more years will be needed for the rest, based on calculations.
Supply and demand continue to drive Bitcoin’s price up
90% of Bitcoin is currently out of circulation as of Monday, December 13th, 2021. There are currently 18.89 million bitcoins being used, bought, sold, stored, and much more, around the world, due to the coin’s total supply of 21 million BTC.
Almost 13 years have passed since the first coins were mined, and the remaining coins will not be mined until February 2140. By calculating the time needed to mine the next 210,000 blocks, Bitcoin experts have come up with these estimates based on average network activity and halving schedules.
As the demand for new coins continues to increase, prices have mirrored the increasing supply well. When only 10% of BTC was mined back in 2010, the coin’s price was $0.10. When 50% of the supply was mined in December 2012, Bitcoin’s price surged to $7.50. However, now that 90% of the supply is out, the coin is at a price of $49,000, following a major correction after the coin hit a new price ATH at $69,000.
There is a large amount of Bitcoin’s circulating supply that is not really circulating
In May 2020, the Bitcoin blockchain’s miners saw the latest halving, which yielded 6.25 BTC per block. That amount will decrease to 3.125 BTC per block after the next halving takes place in 2024.
However, not all 21 million BTC will likely be available on the open market, since some estimates say that 3.7 million coins have already been lost, potentially forever, judging by the analysis of bitcoin addresses and their activity over the last 13 years. In some cases, the owners have simply lost their private keys and are unable to reach their coins.
In other instances, the owners may have even passed away, with no one having access to their cryptocurrencies. It is also worth noting that Satoshi Nakamoto himself still holds around 1 million coins, but since his real identity remains unknown, nobody knows whether Satoshi himself is still alive, and whether or not they plan to ever use these coins again.