Should anyone care about “3 million left?”
18 million Bitcoins have been mined. 3 million are left out of the 21 million hard limit. Should anyone care?
Absolutely not. First of all, what is so special about the 18,000,000 figure? Maybe, it is a pretty round number with six zeroes at the end? Well, by the same token, everyone goes absolutely crazy when Dow Jones or S&P 500 reaches the next “round” value, like 3,000 or whatever the next “milestone” everyone is be excited about will be. The problem is, those round numbers are round and beautiful and seem significant only because we humans as a species have (predominantly) five fingers on both of our hands and therefore, long time ago, most of our cultures adopted the decimal (base 10) counting system. For the members of indigenous populations in Papua New Guinea, who speak the unique Telefol language with traditional base 27 counting, should they have been early adopters of Bitcoin, the number 14,348,907 Bitcoins mined would seem “special”. Why? Well, it is nice in round in their books, similar to our good old 100,000.
But that is not the point, some might say. Why all this counting system mumbo-jumbo? Doesn’t the 18 million mined and 3 million left mean that the “hard” cap on Bitcoin supply is not as hard as we have previously assumed? Shouldn’t we all worry that Bitcoin is not as scarce as we want it to be?
Hell no. For all of you who joined just recently, let’s briefly recap how halving works. Every 210,000 blocks, the reward for a miner who finds the new block reduces in half. It all started at block one with 50 BTC rewards per block. In November 2012, it first halved to 25 BTC. Then still, in July 2016 the mining reward reduced further to 12.5 BTC per block. And in May 2020, as we are approaching block 630,000, the reward will drop again, now to 6.25 BTC. Sometime around 2024, the next halving will slash the reward to 3.125. And so on and so forth. This process is predictable and hard-wired into the blockchain protocol.
The halving is what contributes to the scarcity of Bitcoin. If we try to calculate all the rewards miners will get from the genesis block all the way up to infinity, we will end up with the number precisely equalling the magical 21 million. It is just the limit of the infinite geometric series. The “hard cap” is not going anywhere, anytime. It is a rigorous mathematical result.
Please do not worry and let #3millionleft pass by. I promise you, it is not a big deal.
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