This weekend marks a milestone for bitcoin as 80 percent of the currency has now been mined into circulation, this means there’s only 20 percent left to mine. Satoshi Nakamoto’s protocol was one of the first to introduce digital scarcity and soon enough the digital asset will become even harder to obtain.
There Are Only 4.2 Million Bitcoins Left to Mine
So far on January 13, 2018, 16,800,000 BTC have been mined and there’s only 20 percent left for miners to acquire. When Satoshi Nakamoto introduced the bitcoin protocol to the public by launching the codebase in 2009, the cryptocurrency came with a capped supply. The supply will never be increased and Nakamoto set the number to 21 million bitcoins ever to be found. So far the creator’s plan and miners securing the network have successfully secured this rule from changing with hashpower. Theoretically, however, skeptics believe there could be a way to increase the supply through manipulative tactics such as a 51 percent or Sybil attack. As the digital asset’s life approaches a decade no one has been able to break the rules of 21 million supply cap.
Solving the General’s Problem
This has given individuals reason to believe that Satoshi solved one of the hardest computational equations, the Byzantine General’s problem, a security flaw that had plagued computer scientists for decades. Essentially the problem exists with distributed networks as the issue brings certain faults or security flaws making it easy to attack. This, in turn, makes it hard for protocols to prove something because there is an unsolvability proof within the network.
With Satoshi’s Proof-of-Work in the original bitcoin protocol, the economic measure makes it difficult to attack by making threats to the network costly, and time-consuming. For the first time ever in the world of digital computing, Satoshi introduced an asset that couldn’t be copied or double spent. And at the same time, he limited the supply which also introduced digital scarcity like no other technology before it.
Digital Scarcity and the Next Halving
Because there are only 21 million bitcoins the cryptocurrency’s limited availability make the asset harder to acquire the more scarce it becomes. In most cases when an asset is limited and resources are harder to come by, the supply causes demand for the market. The supply of bitcoin shows a significant gap between how many there are and those who want to obtain some. A great majority of bitcoiners believe digital scarcity will make bitcoin more valuable over time, and with 16.8Mn mined so far it will get harder.
In addition to the difficulty in accessibility miners themselves are going to have to up their processing power constantly. In two years or less depending on hashrate speed, the next miner reward halving is approaching. This means instead of miners getting 12.5 BTC for every block they mine they will get 6.25 BTC in two years time. This network consensus agreement of a halving every four years will make bitcoins more difficult to obtain even for the large warehouses all over the world filled with data processors. Every one of them and ASIC technology itself will have to progress for mining operations to continue profiting. Of course, the price per bitcoin should also be higher than the cost to mine the currency as well.
Unlike Ripple’s 100 Billion There Will Only Be 21 Million Bitcoins
Another thing to consider while observing the vast blockchain environment is that Satoshi’s creation unlike the 1,300 other cryptocurrencies in existence has only 21 million. Other digital currencies have billions already in circulation and billions more to come using other less tested consensus mechanisms like Proof-of-Stake. So in essence bitcoin’s inventor created something unique and different than the digital goods we all swap today. Unlike your MP3s or digital movies, bitcoins cannot be copied, and this weekend 16.8 million of them have been mined, hoarded and a large number of them have been lost. To many cryptocurrency investors, this makes Satoshi’s invention a very valuable digital asset, unlike anything the world has ever seen.