More than 80% of all Bitcoin that will ever exist have already entered circulation.
The 17 millionth Bitcoin was mined earlier this month, according to Blockchain.info, meaning there are only 4 million left to be unearthed (metaphorically, not physically).
Related: What is Bitcoin?
That’s because the supply of Bitcoin is finite. Only 21 million will ever exist.
The fewer Bitcoin there are left to be mined, the harder the mining process becomes. In fact, it’s believed that the final Bitcoin will be mined in 2140 − more than a century from now.
To put that into context, it’s taken just over nine years to mine the first 17 million Bitcoin.
This scarcity is widely expected to lead to the price of existing Bitcoin shooting up, as new ones get more and more difficult for people to get their hands on.
For Bitcoin holders, that’s something that could encourage them to hold onto their tokens for the long-term, and not cash in now despite the cryptocurrency’s ongoing troubles.
After shooting up in value throughout 2017, Bitcoin’s price has dropped dramatically over recent months, and every small increase has been followed by a swift drop.
As time goes on the reward for Bitcoin miners will also decrease. They currently receive 12.5 Bitcoin for each block they mine, but this will be halved within the next two years.
However, if the value of Bitcoin shoots up as it’s expected to, mining will continue to be a highly lucrative business indeed.
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