The 19 millionth Bitcoin was mined on Friday—a significant milestone considering there will never be more than 21 million.
And it means that 13 years into its existence, over 90% of all Bitcoin is now in circulation.
Goal if you’re looking forward to the historic moment when the last Bitcoin is mined, hoping it’s just around the corner, we hate to break it to you: Neither you, nor the current Decrypt team will see it, because in all probability miners won’t accomplish that until 2140.
This is because of a process called halving. To understand halving, you need to understand the Bitcoin mining process.
Bitcoin is a public ledger that’s distributed simultaneously across many nodes in a global network. This ledger is cryptographic, which means that powerful mining computers running 24/7 use lots of energy to solve codes and validate transactions before a new “block” of data is added to the ledger.
Back in 2009, Bitcoin’s mysterious (and likely pseudonymous) creator Satoshi Nakomoto mined the first “genesis” block. Nakomoto’s reward was 50 Bitcoin, which to this day remains unclaimed despite being worth more than $2.3 million today.
In 2022, the reward for mining one Bitcoin block is 6.25 BTC—just shy of $300,000. In most cases, the reward is shared between every participant contributing computing power toward a mining pool.
The massive decrease in mining rewards since 2009 is due to Bitcoin halving. After every 210,000 blocks are mined, the rate at which Bitcoin comes on the market slows by half because the complexity of the mining increases. This happens roughly every four years.
Bitcoin’s next halving is projected for March 2, 2024, at which point the reward for mining a block falls to 3.125 BTC.
After Bitcoin’s final block has been mined, miners will henceforth be rewarded with users’ transaction fees to validate transactions.
By that point, though, the Bitcoin network could look very different. The only real certainty is how long it could take.
The best of Decrypt straight to your inbox.
Get the top stories curated daily, weekly roundups & deep dives straight to your inbox.
Manage Cookie Consent
To provide the best experiences, we use technologies like cookies to store and/or access device information. Consenting to these technologies will allow us to process data such as browsing behavior or unique IDs on this site. Not consenting or withdrawing consent, may adversely affect certain features and functions.
The technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user, or for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network.
The technical storage or access is necessary for the legitimate purpose of storing preferences that are not requested by the subscriber or user.
The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for statistical purposes.The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for anonymous statistical purposes. Without a subpoena, voluntary compliance on the part of your Internet Service Provider, or additional records from a third party, information stored or retrieved for this purpose alone cannot usually be used to identify you.
The technical storage or access is required to create user profiles to send advertising, or to track the user on a website or across several websites for similar marketing purposes.