18 Million Of The 21 Million Bitcoins Have Been Mined: The Cap Debate


After trading below $8,000 threshold for most of the day, Bitcoin experienced a sharp recovery, and had its price climbed drastically.

During this sudden surge, the total number of mined Bitcoins crossed 18 million out of the possible 21 million, leaving 3 million to go.

“The pie is shrinking. This [milestone] gives people some simple math to raise awareness about where we’re at in the [Bitcoin mining] process,” said Alex Adelman, CEO of Bitcoin rewards platform Lolli, adding that, “It’s good for people to see the progress of Bitcoin, to look back on everything that has been done and will be done for the next 3 million. … You should pay attention to the next 3 million.”

Following this milestone, Bitcoin has 85.7% of its total coins mined, while the number of Bitcoin left to mine until the next halving amounts to 373,888, according to BitcoinBlockHalf.com.

Bitcoin’s blockchain has also seen another important milestone as the number of blocks passed 600,000.

Bitcoin 24-hour price chart (October 18-19, 2019)
Bitcoin 24-hour price chart. (Credit: Coin360)

Just like how it previously was, Bitcoin mining becomes progressively slower, as a result of block reward halving. With this progress, it's predicted that the final Bitcoin (the 21 millionth) will be mined in 2140.

However, given by the value of Bitcoin as a proposition of gold, things could change.

In other words, the 21 million cap might come to a debate.

“All of your assumptions about incentives, risk and value go out the window,” added Angela Walch, a researcher at the University College London Centre for Blockchain Technologies. “Please take the blinders off and stop assuming that everything will still work well once everything goes to a pure transaction-fees system as opposed to block [subsidy].”

“We need to acknowledge that the 21 million cap is aspirational,” said Walch.

“If people decide to change that [supply] cap for certain reasons and enough people make that decision, the system will move to it. It’s aspiration, not reality.”

Read: People Are Underestimating The Potential Of Bitcoin

Bitcoin has long been praised and developed by the community with a bias towards retaining the original features as created by its pseudonymous founder, Satoshi Nakamoto, who introduced it back in 2009.

Bitcoin here is unlike Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency in the world. The Bitcoin blockchain has rarely seen backward-incompatible, system-wide upgrades changing core code features.

One example, was back in 2017, when debates about Bitcoin scaling resulted in a rift.

This was followed by the creation of Bitcoin Cash.

So changing the cap is technically feasible.

"If Bitcoin were to become a substantial part of the global monetary system, we would need to address [the hard supply cap] because a lot of economists agree deflationary systems are not necessarily the best thing,” said Paul Brody, global innovation leader for audit firm Ernst & Young (EY).