Home CryptocurrencyBitcoin What Happens When the Bitcoin Counter Reaches Zero?

What Happens When the Bitcoin Counter Reaches Zero?

by Matthew Harris

For most of us, 21,000,000 is a rather large number and imagining having that many of anything and actually running out of it within our lifetime seems almost impossible. But with Bitcoin and various altcoins being inherently deflationary, meaning that mined coins are finite, once miners “discover” all 21 million Bitcoins, that’s it. There won’t be any additional Bitcoins to mine.

With lost, stollen, and forgotten wallets, the actual number of “active” Bitcoins will of course be much lower and unfortunately there’s really no way that anyone will be able to provide an exact number. It has been estimated that up to 25% of mined Bitcoins have been lost forever, meaning there are millions of Bitcoins that will never be seen again.

But of the millions upon millions of valuable, at least right now, Bitcoins in the market and several million left to mine, thought we aren’t likely to see it anytime soon, the time for the final Bitcoin to be mined is drawing ever closer.

So, What Happens When the Last Bitcoin is Mined?

When Bitcoins are no longer awarded for mining new blocks, will we see the whole system shut down? Doubtful. You have to remember that miners would still be awarded transaction fees, which would likely be enough to entice plenty of miners to keep the system rolling.

Depending on the price of Bitcoin at the time of the final mined coin, the fees allocated per each transaction could very well be rather lucrative. As Bitcoin rises in price, the transaction fees follow suite. Hopefully, even though miners won’t be getting a block reward, these fees will remain valuable enough to encourage them to keep mining.

Additionally, mining hardware is likely to get more energy efficient and cheaper over time, resulting in improved mining profit margins, even without additional Bitcoins remaining to be mined. If, once all Bitcoins have been mined, Bitcoin is the primary medium of exchange for digital assets and more of the mainstream world has adopted its use, an increase in the demand for transactions could result in higher transaction fees and in turn, entice miners to continue supporting the network.

So, while some day down the road some “lucky” miner will indeed claim the final Bitcoin, it won’t spell the end of the crypto pioneer.

Of course as one of my favorite sayings warns, “There’s many a slip betwixt a cup and a lip.” There are numerous scenarios that could play out long before that final coin is mined and we could see anything from fee changes to some sort of platform change where they add additional Bitcoins to the mix.

The final, TLDR version is — when all 21 million Bitcoins are mined, the system miners will still have incentive to continue their work. Incentives that, coupled with faster and better mining hardware, could very well be rather lucrative.

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