Why is bitcoin capped at 21 million: How is the 21 Million Bitcoin Cap Defined and Enforced?

Why is bitcoin capped at 21 million

Why is bitcoin capped at 21 million

Bitcoin logos made by Satoshi Nakamoto in and depict bitcoins as gold tokens. Bitcoin uses public-key cryptography, in which two cryptographic keys, one public and one private, are generated. The network also has no central storage; the bitcoin ledger is distributed. Early bitcoin miners used GPUs for mining, as they were better suited to the proof-of-work algorithm than CPUs.

Why is bitcoin capped at 21 million

Around the year 2017, over 70% of the hashing power and 90% of transactions were operating from China. How long it takes to mine one Bitcoin is determined by the size of the block reward or how many new bitcoins are paid to crypto miners for generating a new Bitcoin block. Every 10 minutes, a new block is generated, with the current block reward of 6.25 bitcoins. Therefore, while halving events can have a significant impact on the Bitcoin network, it’s important to consider a range of factors when evaluating their impact on mining rewards and the price of Bitcoin. There’s a potential that Bitcoin will become a reserve asset if the quantity of transactions in the network declines. As a result, small retail traders will be pushed out, and prominent institutional players will take their place, perhaps raising transaction fees and making trading more costly.


This left opportunity for controversy to develop over the future development path of bitcoin, in contrast to the perceived authority of Nakamoto’s contributions. As of March 2023, there are over 19 million bitcoins in circulation, out of a total supply of 21 million. This means that around 90% of all bitcoins have already been mined. Mining difficulty refers to the difficulty level of solving the mathematical problems necessary to mine new bitcoins. It is measured using a metric called the “difficulty target,” which is a 256-bit number that the miners must try to match. The lower the difficulty target, the harder it is to mine new bitcoins.

Bitcoin Cash is among the top 30 cryptocurrencies in market capitalization. The protocol is executed through a core software that each computer on Bitcoin’s peer-to-peer network must install and run. Satoshi Nakamoto coded the first version of the Bitcoin core software and set the rules on which the cryptocurrency functions, including the 21 million hard cap. Bitcoin block rewards are new bitcoins awarded to cryptocurrency miners for solving a complex math problem and creating a new block of verified transactions. After the maximum number of bitcoins is reached, even if that number is ultimately slightly below 21 million, no new bitcoins will be issued. Bitcoin transactions will continue to be pooled into blocks and processed, and Bitcoin miners will continue to be rewarded, but likely only with transaction processing fees.

Why is bitcoin capped at 21 million

In 2017 and 2018, bitcoin’s acceptance among major online retailers included only three of the top 500 U.S. online merchants, down from five in 2016. Reasons for this decline include high transaction fees due to bitcoin’s scalability issues and long transaction times. In August 2020, MicroStrategy invested $250 million in bitcoin as a treasury reserve asset. In October 2020, Square, Inc. placed approximately 1% of total assets ($50 million) in bitcoin. In November 2020, PayPal announced that US users could buy, hold, or sell bitcoin.

The limited supply of Bitcoin ensures that there will always be a reward for miners, which incentivizes them to continue mining and securing the network. If a hard fork were to occur to increase the maximum supply of Bitcoin, it would likely be a controversial and highly debated move. Many in the Bitcoin community believe that the 21 million limit is a key feature of the digital currency and that it helps to give Bitcoin its scarcity and value. Because of this, it is unlikely that a hard fork to increase the supply would be successful. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency made by proof-of-work, while some other cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum, are made by proof-of-stake, which consumes less electricity. As of 2022, the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance estimates that Bitcoin consumes around 100TW⋅h annually, and says bitcoin mining uses about as much electricity as Egypt.

During the split, the Mt. Gox exchange briefly halted bitcoin deposits and the price dropped by 23% to $37 before recovering to the previous level of approximately $48 in the following hours. Bitcoin is pseudonymous, meaning that funds are not tied to real-world entities but rather bitcoin addresses. Owners of bitcoin addresses are not explicitly identified, but all transactions on the blockchain are public. Additionally, bitcoin exchanges, where bitcoins are traded for traditional currencies, may be required by law to collect personal information. To heighten financial privacy, a new bitcoin address can be generated for each transaction. The 21 million Bitcoin supply limit is significant because it ensures that the cryptocurrency is deflationary in nature, meaning that its value is likely to increase over time as the supply dwindles.

Steve Bannon, who owns a “good stake” in bitcoin, considers it to be “disruptive populism. It takes control back from central authorities. It’s revolutionary.” On 25 March 2022, Pavel Zavalny stated that Russia might accept bitcoin for payment for oil and gas exports, in response to sanctions stemming from the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. Prices started at $998 in 2017 and rose to $13,412.44 on 1 January 2018, after reaching its all-time high of $19,783.06 on 17 December 2017. In 2013, prices started at $13.30 rising to $770 by 1 January 2014.

Proof-of-Work coins come into existence via the process called mining. This means that Satoshi has set a fixed upper limit regarding the number of Bitcoins that can ever come into existence. Bitcoin’s inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, capped the number of coins at 21 million, and a lot of people who are new in the crypto space are wondering why. Gschossmann, Isabella; van der Kraaij, Anton; Benoit, Pierre-Loïc; Rocher., Emmanuel .

Software implementation

Bitcoin reaching its upper supply limit is likely to affect Bitcoin miners, but how they are affected depends in part on how Bitcoin evolves as a cryptocurrency. If the Bitcoin blockchain in 2140 processes many transactions, then Bitcoin miners may still be able to generate profits from only transaction processing fees. If the private key is lost, the bitcoin network will not recognize any other evidence of ownership; the coins are then unusable, and effectively lost. For example, in 2013 one user claimed to have lost ₿7,500, worth $7.5 million at the time, when he accidentally discarded a hard drive containing his private key. About 20% of all bitcoins are believed to be lost—they would have had a market value of about $20 billion at July 2018 prices.

There’s a long history of unwarranted search and seizure of private property and wealth by institutions or governing bodies that retain the threat of violence or incarceration. Image by @derekmrossThis is the first million-coin milestone crossed since October 2019. More than 90% of all Bitcoins that will ever be in existence have been mined. According to email archives between Satoshi Nakamoto and Bitcoin Core contributor Mike Hearn, Satoshi claimed that if 21 million coins were used by a portion of the economy, 1 mBTC could worth €1.

If many developers write a new code that allows more block rewards and follow it with their nodes, the network would fork them out. The miners who download the new code, will operate in a new Bitcoin network. This would cause a hard fork that would not follow the 21 million bitcoins rule. The majority of nodes would probably not follow this upgrade as it would violate the initial monetary principles.

That may be true, but this part of bitcoin—how exactly the supply cap is defined in its code—is relatively easy to prove. Bitcoin news portal providing breaking news, guides, price analysis about decentralized digital money & blockchain technology. So, Dimon is correct that bitcoin’s code can change, but he’s not asking the right question. It is whether a quorum of developers, miners and users will accept such a consequential code change. Evidence suggests that they won’t, which is why the hashrate and market caps for all bitcoin’s cousins are small fractions of the original. Rather than focusing on its intrinsic value, or lack thereof as he sees it, he questioned the very thing that pillars bitcoin’s popular “digital gold” narrative—its hard cap of 21 million units.

What Happens After All 21 Million Bitcoin Are Mined?

There’s also the money-replacing theory and an alternative as well. The cryptocurrency’s popularity exploded in the past couple of years. The number of Bitcoins issued will likely never reach 21 million due to the use of rounding operators in the Bitcoin codebase. “Bitcoin biggest bubble in history, says economist who predicted 2008 crash”. “Bitcoin investors are panicking as a controversial crypto experiment unravels”. “The FBI’s Plan For The Millions Worth Of Bitcoins Seized From Silk Road”.

As inflation grows, people are always looking to protect their savings from the devaluing effects that it brings. For instance, Ripple’s XRP has a fixed supply of 100 billion, while the anonymity coin Monero has a lower fixed supply of 18.9 million. This is making the digital coin enjoy the spotlight as a safe haven and a hedge against inflation. As of January 2023, 19.3 million bitcoins have already been issued, with about 1.7 million bitcoins still to be released.

Why 21 Million Bitcoins?

“After Silk Road seizure, FBI Bitcoin wallet identified and pranked”. “Hal Finney received the first Bitcoin transaction. Here’s how he describes it”. “Bitcoin investors are bracing for a key technical event — here’s what you need to know”. ” “Exxon is dealing with greenhouse gas emissions by … mining crypto? State and provincial securities regulators, coordinated through the North American Securities Administrators Association, are investigating “bitcoin scams” and ICOs in 40 jurisdictions.

Indeed, central banks control the levels of inflations by printing less or more money. However, the general trend over a long time is that inflation goes up. When new blocks append to bitcoin’s blockchain, it grows “taller.” As of this writing, bitcoin’s “block height” is 740,805 blocks. The bitcoin code uses a mix of consensus rules and simple math agreed upon by everyone who runs a bitcoin node to implicitly establish the limit. Here, we’ll break down the code to verify with certainty that bitcoin’s cap is 21 million. If this is a bit too technical and you’d prefer a higher-level overview of 21 million and its significance, we have that too.

“Ukraine government raises over $10 million in cryptocurrency donations”. “Atlanta-based BitPay hooks up with PayPal to expand bitcoin adoption”. Lack of adoption and loads of volatility mean that cryptocurrencies satisfy none of those criteria. “Cryptocurrency mining operation launched by Iron Bridge Resources”. On Tuesday, the small Central American nation became the first in the world to adopt bitcoin as an official currency. The MIT Digital Currency Initiative funds some of the development of Bitcoin Core.

On 18 February 2021, Elon Musk stated that “owning bitcoin was only a little better than holding conventional cash, but that the slight difference made it a better asset to hold”. The decision resulted in the price of bitcoin dropping around 12% on 13 May. Iran announced pending regulations that would require bitcoin miners in Iran to sell bitcoin to the Central Bank of Iran, and the central bank would use it for imports. Iran, as of October 2020, had issued over 1,000 bitcoin mining licenses.

This part of the code is vital to verifying bitcoin’s fixed supply because all new bitcoin originates from block subsidies paid to miners. Bitcoin’s supply is capped at 21 million is one of the leading arguments for how invaluable the digital asset is. This is accurate in the fact that there will never be enough bitcoins to go around, hence causing a scarcity that will continue to drive up the price of the digital asset. One thing that is not mentioned often though is how there will never actually be 21 million BTC in available. So, if the supply limit was to be changed, every single node across the network would have to use a new type of software, which may prove to be a very tough undertaking. It keeps the cryptocurrency scarce, theoretically ensuring that its value holds steady for years to come.

Bitcoin Node Performance Tests

The 2016 documentary Banking on Bitcoin is an introduction to the beginnings of bitcoin and the ideas behind cryptocurrency today. Bitcoin Core is free and open-source software that serves as a bitcoin node and provides a bitcoin wallet which fully verifies payments. Initially, the software was published by Satoshi Nakamoto under the name “Bitcoin”, and later renamed to “Bitcoin Core” to distinguish it from the network. Reducing Bitcoin’s environmental effects is difficult; possible remedies include making bitcoin only where or when there is excess clean electricity. Some policymakers have called for further restrictions or bans on bitcoin mining.

This blockchain technology is immutable, which means no entity can erase or alter any information on the network. Transactions on Bitcoin are verified by network nodes through cryptography and recorded in blockchain . With hedge funds, family offices, and institutional bankers adding Bitcoin to their portfolio, the cryptocurrency has finally attracted the recognition of being a unique asset class.