Bitcoin mining is still one of the most contentious aspects of the blockchain. Given the current price of BTC, miners are undoubtedly compensated well for blocks mined. However, as more BTC is mined, the difficulty of mining has increased.
Over the course of its decade-long existence, over 18.6 million of Bitcoin’s total supply of 21 million have been mined. This accounts for nearly 90% of all BTC supply. This leaves slightly more than 10% of BTC to be mined. Approximately 2.250 million coins remain to be mined at the moment.
At the current rate of mining, the last bitcoin is expected to be mined around 120 years from now. This is due to halving events that will occur every four years, reducing the supply of BTC entering the market.
Bitcoin Mining in 2009 vs. Mining in 2021
The cryptocurrency, which debuted in 2009, paid miners 50 bitcoins for each block they mined. Back then, a user could mine bitcoin on an old laptop with a crappy graphics card. Bitcoin was worth next to nothing at this point. As a result, many miners either forgot about their coins or sold them for a very low price. The price evolution of Bitcoin at this point is fascinating.
Three halving events since the launch of the digital currency have resulted in a drastic reduction in the reward for block mining in 2021. In 2012, the first halving occurred. The reward for a block was 25 at this point, so it had been cut in half. The next halving occurred in 2016, when the reward was reduced to 12.5. The most recent halving occurred in 2020, when the number of bitcoins received per mined block was reduced to 6.25.
The reward will be halved every four years until all 21 million BTC have been mined. Every halving will cut the rewards for mined blocks in half. Making mining block rewards smaller while simultaneously increasing mining difficulty as miners compete for mined block rewards.
BTC Growth Throughout the Years
Until the Silk Road bust, the pioneer cryptocurrency received little attention. Before the Silk Road, BTC was only used by those who were interested in the technology. At this point, the returns were not particularly significant. The use of BTC on Silk Road to buy literally anything, from drugs to weapons, is what drew law enforcement’s attention to the coin.
Despite its increased popularity as a result of the Silk Road bust, the price of BTC remained mostly flat around this time. The most notable bull run occurred between 2017 and 2018. This was the first time many investors had heard of bitcoin. During the bull market, BTC rose to prominence as a formidable asset to be reckoned with.
It is estimated that by 2021, approximately 10% of the current global population will have invested in either BTC or altcoins. According to current estimates, there are between 51 and 52.4 million crypto investors worldwide. This represents enormous growth when compared to an estimated 2.9 to 5.8 million in 2017.