How many bitcoins are there and how many are left to mine

How many bitcoins are there and how many are left to mine?


Bitcoin has gone a long way since its debut in 2009. However, what has stayed consistent is its hard limit, which was imposed by Satoshi Nakamoto, the alleged creator whose true identity is unknown. 

In the source code, Nakamoto set the upper limit of 21 million bitcoins, implying that no more can be mined or circulated. Although Nakamoto did not explain establishing the limit of 21 million, many people consider it a significant benefit for the world’s oldest cryptocurrency. According to them, the cryptocurrency’s limited quantity maintains it scarce and keeps its price stable for years.

With the set limit comes the most sought-after questions “How many bitcoins have been mined and how many are left?” “How is the limited supply of bitcoins achieved?” “What happens after all the bitcoins are mined?” Read ahead to find the answers.

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a digital currency that allows for peer-to-peer transactions without the need for a central intermediary. It was created in 2009 by an anonymous person or group of people using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin is based on a decentralized system, which means it is not controlled by any government or financial institution.

The main feature that distinguishes Bitcoin from traditional currencies is that it operates on a peer-to-peer network, which means that there is no central authority regulating it. Transactions are processed and verified by a network of computers around the world, called nodes, and recorded on a digital ledger called the Blockchain.

The Blockchain is a decentralized and immutable ledger that allows for transparency, security, and verifiability of transactions. It contains a record of all the transactions ever made on the Bitcoin network and cannot be tampered with, making it a secure and transparent way to exchange value online.

Brief History of Bitcoin

Bitcoin was created in 2009 by an unknown person or group of people using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. The idea behind Bitcoin was to create a decentralized digital currency that would allow people to transact without the need for a central authority.

In the early days of Bitcoin, it was primarily used by computer enthusiasts and libertarians who were interested in the idea of a decentralized currency. However, as the popularity of Bitcoin grew, more and more people began to use it as a means of payment and investment.

In 2010, the first real-world transaction using Bitcoin occurred when a programmer named Laszlo Hanyecz bought two pizzas for 10,000 bitcoins. At the time, Bitcoin was worth very little, and the transaction was seen as a novelty.

As the value of Bitcoin began to rise, more and more merchants began accepting it as payment. By 2013, Bitcoin had reached a price of over $1,000, and it seemed like it was on its way to becoming a mainstream currency.

However, in late 2013, the price of Bitcoin crashed, and it lost over 80% of its value. This crash was caused by a combination of factors, including the collapse of the Mt. Gox exchange and concerns over the regulatory environment for Bitcoin.

Despite this setback, Bitcoin has continued to grow in popularity and adoption. Today, there are thousands of merchants who accept Bitcoin as payment, and the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is over $2 trillion.

What changes have occurred in Bitcoin throughout time?

Economists are currently examining the impact of the hard limit, but on the surface, the price of Bitcoin has climbed dramatically since its inception more than a decade ago. For example, mining a block in 2009 generated 50 bitcoins (but the value was less than). A year later, someone bought two pizzas with 10,000 bitcoins.

The first ‘halving’ took place in 2012, four years after the cryptocurrency’s debut. After that, each block would only produce 25 bitcoins. However, by the end of 2013, one Bitcoin had risen to $200 (about Rs. 14,860).

In 2016, the second halving cut the number of bitcoins to 12.5 and then by half again four years later. As a result, each block mined in 2020 earned 6.25 bitcoins.

What exactly is the situation with Bitcoin’s supply?

Satoshi used a method in the source code to impose a hard cap, or maximum limit, on Bitcoin production of 21 million. The supply of bitcoins is replenished at a set rate of one block every ten minutes. The system design reduces the number of new bitcoins in each block by half every four years.

There are only about 2 million bitcoins left. Experts predict that the last bitcoins will be mined by 2140.

Why should you know how many bitcoins exist and how many are left to mine?

As we already know, one of the key features of Bitcoin is its limited supply. The maximum number of bitcoins that can ever exist is 21 million, and as of March 2023, over 19 million bitcoins have already been mined. This means that there are only around 2 million bitcoins left to be mined, and once that limit is reached, no more bitcoins will be created.

You should know about the limited supply of Bitcoin and the dynamics of its mining process because it can have a significant impact on the value of Bitcoin and its future price. As the number of available bitcoins decreases, the price of Bitcoin may become more volatile. This is because a decrease in the supply of Bitcoin may lead to increased demand, which can drive up the price. However, if demand does not increase, the price of Bitcoin may remain stagnant or even decrease.

Additionally, understanding the mining process and its importance to the security of the Bitcoin network can help you better appreciate the unique features of this decentralized digital currency. It can also help you make more informed decisions about buying, selling, and holding Bitcoin as an investment.

So, why is Bitcoin supply limited to 21 million?

As discussed earlier, Bitcoin has a maximum supply of 21 million. This was hard-coded into its protocol by Satoshi Nakamoto. This limit ensures that Bitcoin is scarce and cannot be manipulated like traditional currencies. As more bitcoins are mined, the rate at which new bitcoins are created is reduced over time through a process called halving.

The reason behind the 21 million Bitcoin limit lies in the concept of scarcity, which is a fundamental principle of economics. By limiting the supply of bitcoins, the value of each individual Bitcoin is theoretically increased. This is because as demand for Bitcoin increases, but the supply remains fixed, the price of Bitcoin is likely to increase as well. This is known as the law of supply and demand.

The limit of 21 million bitcoins also ensures that there is no risk of inflation. Inflation is the decrease in the purchasing power of a currency due to an increase in its supply. Governments can manipulate traditional currencies by printing more money, leading to inflation. But with Bitcoin, the supply is fixed, which makes it immune to inflationary pressures.

Bitcoin’s maximum supply of 21 million is also due to the mathematical rules set in the code. This limit is hardcoded into the protocol, meaning it cannot be changed by anyone, including the developers or miners. The maximum supply of 21 million bitcoins will be reached around the year 2140, after which no new bitcoins can be mined. 

The 21 million Bitcoin limit also has important implications for the process of Bitcoin mining. Bitcoin mining is the process by which new bitcoins are created and added to the Blockchain, which is a decentralized ledger that records all Bitcoin transactions. As more bitcoins are mined, the rate at which new bitcoins are created is gradually reduced. This is because the Bitcoin protocol is designed to halve the mining reward every 210,000 blocks. The initial reward was 50 bitcoins per block, but this has been halved several times and is currently at 6.25 bitcoins per block. The reward will continue to be halved until it eventually reaches zero, at which point no more new bitcoins can be created.

The 21 million Bitcoin limit is also critical for network security. Bitcoin’s security is based on a process called proof-of-work, where miners compete to solve complex mathematical problems to add new blocks to the Blockchain. 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.


How is the limited supply of bitcoins achieved?

Bitcoin’s limited supply is a unique feature that sets it apart from traditional fiat currencies. The limited supply is enforced by the Bitcoin protocol, which specifies that only 21 million bitcoins will ever exist.  Bitcoin’s limited supply is enforced through a combination of mining and the Bitcoin halving process. Bitcoin mining allows the creation of new bitcoins.

Mining is a process that involves using powerful computers to solve complex mathematical problems, which are used to verify and add new transactions to the Bitcoin Blockchain. When a miner successfully solves a problem, they are rewarded with a certain number of bitcoins, which are added to the Bitcoin supply. The reward for mining a block of Bitcoin transactions started at 50 bitcoins and is halved approximately every four years through a process called Bitcoin halving.

The first Bitcoin halving occurred in November 2012, reducing the mining reward from 50 bitcoins to 25 bitcoins. The second halving occurred in July 2016, reducing the reward from 25 bitcoins to 12.5 bitcoins. The most recent halving took place in May 2020, reducing the reward from 12.5 bitcoins to 6.25 bitcoins.

The halving process is an essential part of the Bitcoin protocol, as it helps to maintain a predictable supply of bitcoins and prevent inflation. By reducing the mining reward over time, the rate at which new bitcoins are added to the network slows down, eventually reaching zero once the total supply of 21 million bitcoins is reached.

It is worth noting that the actual number of bitcoins in circulation is currently lower than the total supply of 21 million. This is because some bitcoins have been lost due to people losing access to their private keys, which are necessary to access and spend bitcoins. Estimates suggest that around 4 million bitcoins have been lost, reducing the total supply to around 17 million. 

What happens when all 21 million bitcoins have been mined? 

The short answer is that no more bitcoins can be created. This means that the supply of Bitcoin will be fixed at 21 million, and the value of Bitcoin will be determined entirely by supply and demand. However, the reality is likely to be more complex than this.

Bitcoin transactions will continue to be pooled and processed into blocks, and Bitcoin miners will be compensated, although most likely simply with transaction processing fees.

Bitcoin miners are expected to be affected by Bitcoin reaching its upper supply limit, but how they are affected depends partly on how Bitcoin matures as a cryptocurrency. For example, if the Bitcoin Blockchain processes a large number of transactions in 2140, Bitcoin miners may still be able to profit solely from transaction processing fees.

Even with low transaction volumes and the removal of block rewards, miners can still earn in 2140. This is possible only if Bitcoin is primarily used as a store of value rather than for daily transactions. Miners can charge hefty transaction fees to process big-value transactions or vast batches of transactions, with more efficient “layer 2” Blockchains like the Lightning Network assisting daily Bitcoin spending.

However, if Bitcoin mining becomes unprofitable in the absence of block rewards, the following undesirable consequences may occur:

  • Miners may create cartels in an attempt to gain control of mining resources and command more outstanding transaction fees.
  • Selfish mining occurs when miners work together to keep new legitimate blocks hidden and then release them as orphan blocks that the Bitcoin network has not confirmed. This method can lengthen block processing periods and ensure that when new blocks are finally issued to the Blockchain, they are accompanied by hefty fees.

What will the network’s response be?

Bitcoin’s network is an essential aspect. Any cryptocurrency is built on a distributed ledger paradigm.

If the network’s transaction volume grows in the future, transaction speeds may slow. The architecture of Bitcoin is more concerned with accuracy and integrity than with speed.

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.

Factors affecting the number of bitcoins left to mine

Mining Difficulty: What is it and how is it adjusted?

Bitcoin mining is a critical process that involves using powerful computers to solve complex mathematical problems. These problems are used to verify and add new transactions to the Bitcoin Blockchain, and the process of solving them is called mining. However, as more miners join the network, the difficulty of solving these problems increases, making it more challenging to mine new bitcoins. This is where the concept of mining difficulty comes into play.

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.

The process of adjusting the mining difficulty is known as the difficulty adjustment algorithm (DAA). The DAA is designed to ensure that the average time between blocks remains at 10 minutes, regardless of changes in the hash rate. The Bitcoin network achieves this by increasing or decreasing the difficulty target by a factor of 4, depending on whether the previous 2016 blocks were mined too quickly or too slowly.

This adjustment is done automatically by the Bitcoin network to maintain a constant rate of new Bitcoin production. The adjustment is based on the total computing power of the Bitcoin network, or the network hash rate. If the hash rate increases, the difficulty target is increased, making it harder to mine new bitcoins. Conversely, if the hash rate decreases, the difficulty target is decreased, making it easier to mine new bitcoins.

The adjustment of mining difficulty is crucial to the functioning of the Bitcoin network. If the difficulty level remains too high, it could discourage miners from continuing to mine bitcoins, as the cost of electricity and hardware would be too high relative to the mining rewards. On the other hand, if the difficulty level remains too low, it could result in an oversupply of new bitcoins, which could lead to inflation and a loss of value for the currency.

The recent increase in the mining difficulty is an indication of the growing popularity and success of Bitcoin. As more miners join the network, the difficulty level increases, making it more challenging to mine new bitcoins. However, this also means that the network is becoming more secure, as it becomes harder to conduct a 51% attack on the network.

Bitcoin’s mining difficulty rose by nearly 5.56% in 2022, hitting a lifetime high of 30 trillion. This increase in difficulty means that it takes more computational power to validate a block of transactions and earn the associated reward of newly mined bitcoins.

Bitcoin mining difficulty has increased by more than 20,000 times since the first block was mined in 2009, which demonstrates the exponential growth of the network’s hash rate. This growth has been fueled by the development of specialized hardware known as application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), which are optimized for the specific computations required for Bitcoin mining.

Halving events and their impact on the mining reward

As we already discussed, halving events are programmed into the Bitcoin protocol to control the supply of bitcoins. However, these events have a significant impact on mining rewards. When a halving event occurs, the reward that miners receive is cut in half, which reduces their profitability. This can cause some miners to stop mining, especially those with outdated equipment that is not efficient enough to mine profitably.

This reduction in mining rewards can have both positive and negative effects on the mining industry and the Bitcoin network as a whole.

On the negative side, halving events can cause some miners to stop mining, particularly those with older equipment that is not efficient enough to mine profitably. This is because the cost of mining, including electricity and hardware, can exceed the value of the rewards received, making it unprofitable to continue mining. This can lead to a reduction in the overall mining power of the network, which can in turn slow down transaction processing times and make the network less secure.

However, on the positive side, halving events can also lead to an increase in the price of Bitcoin. This is because halving events reduce the supply of new bitcoins, and if demand for the cryptocurrency remains constant, the price should increase to compensate for the reduced supply. This increase in price can offset the reduction in mining rewards, and some miners may continue to mine even after a halving event.

In fact, historical data shows that halving events have often coincided with significant increases in the price of Bitcoin. For example, the first halving event in 2012 was followed by a year-long bull run that saw the price of Bitcoin increase. Similarly, the second halving event in 2016 was followed by another bull run.

The impact of halving events on the price of Bitcoin can also be influenced by a variety of external factors, such as changes in regulatory policies, technological developments, and global economic conditions. 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.


In the year 2140, will Bitcoin work similarly to cash or gold bars? Bitcoin’s environment is still evolving, so it’s feasible, if not likely, that it will continue to evolve over the next few decades. However, no additional bitcoins will be released after the 21-million coin cap is met, regardless of how Bitcoin evolves. The impact of reaching this supply limit is most likely to be felt by Bitcoin miners; however, the Bitcoin investors could suffer as well.

If you’re still in the fog about Bitcoin and don’t know where to begin, check for Bitcoin professionals. However, if you aspire to become a professional then you can enrol into some cryptocurrency course. Blockchain council has got all the in-demand Blockchain related certification courses for you. 


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. This sets Bitcoin apart from fiat currencies, which are typically inflationary and lose value over time.

After all bitcoins are mined, miners will no longer receive block rewards for verifying transactions. Instead, they will earn transaction fees, which are currently a small fraction of the total mining rewards. It’s possible that transaction fees could increase significantly as demand for Bitcoin transactions grows.

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.

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.

When the Bitcoin supply reaches 21 million, it will abolish mining fees. Instead of a mix of block rewards and transaction fees, miners are more likely to receive money solely from transaction processing fees.

Related Posts

Join 30000+ Certified Professionals & Get Ahead In Your Career!

Invest In Your Learning Today!

Blockchain Council Certified Professional
Copyright © Blockchain Council | All rights reserved

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

To receive Offers & Newsletters

    Invest in your learning!
    Here's a coupon code tailored just for you

    50,000+ Professionals certified so far by Blockchain Council



    expires in

    Enroll today in any of the popular certifications sought after by the industry.