This week cryptocurrency miners had processed the 17 million coins across both Bitcoin (BCH) and Bitcoin Core (BTC) networks, marking a great milestone within the history of blockchain technology. Now there are only 4Mn BCH and BTC left to mine but it’s still a very long time away until the very last coins are mined.
80.9% of All Bitcoins Have Been Mined
According to blockchain data, today both BTC and BCH miners mined the 17 millionth coin per network, and there are only 4 million left to mine. Now individuals may say that only 4 million coins is not much of a supply since 17 million were mined in less than ten years, so they might expect the last coins to be mined shortly. However, that’s not the case for both networks as mining difficulty continues to increase on both chains, and every four years the mining block reward is cut in half. Right now both BTC and BCH networks produce 12.5 coins after every block found, and when the halving takes place the reward will only be 6.25 newly minted coins. The BTC chain is expected to halve its mining reward in roughly 763 days or May 29, 2020, depending on the hashrate. If the networks hashrate grows slower or faster the halving date could change.
BTC and BCH Halvings and the Last Coin Found Will Likely Be Different Time Frames
Further, the mining of the last coins won’t be found very quickly because of mining difficulty changes, which makes it harder for miners to find blocks over time. BTC’s ‘Difficulty’ is a metric used to measure the probability of finding the next block, and the BTC network automatically changes difficulty every 2016 blocks. The BCH chain adjusts difficulty every block to make sure previous 144 blocks take exactly one day. The BTC method of difficulty changes and things like the block reward halving every four years or less, will eventually lead to the last BTC being found on or around the year 2140. The BCH chain may have some different halving times, but as things are today the last BCH may be found around the same year. Although there may be some slight discrepancies on halving and the last coin found time frames between both networks.
For instance, the BCH chain had a different difficulty adjustment algorithm (DAA) when the chain first separated. Up until November of 2017, the BCH difficulty was a bit volatile; sometimes processing blocks extremely fast and sometimes super slow. This led to the BCH chain mining a touch more coins than BTC, and it has processed more blocks as well. At the time of publication, the BCH chain is 7568 blocks ahead of the BTC chain, and there are 94,000 more BCH in circulation than BTC. However, since the November bitcoin cash DAA hard fork, metrics have leveled out quite a bit and newly minted BCH are mined roughly at the same rate. Before the fork profitability led to miners bouncing back and forth between chains, but since the DAA change profitability has been consistently level as well. At the moment BCH miners are processing blocks at 13.96% of BTC’s difficulty. Several things could happen in the future where halving and difficulty times could become totally different between both networks.
Satoshi’s Vision Has Come a Long Way — Giving the World the Genius of Proof-of-Work and Digital Scarcity
Even though it’s going to take more than a century for all of the coins to be found, finding more than 80 percent of them is quite the feat. Over the last six months, both chains have seen a phenomenal increase in horsepower, and if this keeps up it will likely lead to much faster halvings and difficulty changes. Additionally, the 21 million cap created by Satoshi Nakamoto cements the power of digital scarcity, which theoretically will keep demand going strong for ages. The cryptocurrencies are divisible by eight decimals and this means that even though there are not enough ‘whole’ coins to go around for every individual on the planet, people will transact with smaller fractions over time. Unlike quantitative easing and the central banking system bailing out the banks by printing mass quantities of fiat — cryptocurrencies are and will always be scarce. 17 million coins found by a network of incentivized miners is a landmark occasion, and we should all celebrate this feat as it shows how far this technology has come in less than a decade.