Milestones have been coming thick and fast for Bitcoin in recent months, what with various ATHs closing out 2017 and public interest skyrocketing. However, the big landmarks are hardly subsiding as we reach 2018, with latest certainly going to impact Bitcoin moving forward. January 13th marked the day when 16.8 million Bitcoins had officially been mined, which means that 80% of all eventual Bitcoins have been “unearthed”.
The cap draws closer
Bitcoin comes with a 21 million token cap, which was built into the cryptocurrency’s protocol by founder and creator Satoshi Nakamoto. This cap was first mentioned back in 2008 within Bitcoin’s White Paper, with its purpose being to make Bitcoin scarcer as time progresses. This has certainly worked, with Bitcoin’s price rise in some way being linked to supply and demand factors. Bitcoin’s growing scarcity has driven up demand, as Bitcoin is becoming what some are labelling as a version of “digital gold”.
Reducing the reward
At the current level, miners will earn a 12.5 BTC “reward” for every block mined, but matters won’t prove to be this generous forever. Written within Nakamoto’s protocol is another caveat that could alter the course of the cryptocurrency. For every 210,000 blocks mined – which should take four years on average – the reward is halved. The next cut in reward is set to occur over the next two years, around June 2020 based upon current projections. This “halving” will bring down the reward to 6.25 BTC per block mined, which will potentially have an impact on mining activity levels.
16.8 out of 21 million Bitcoins have been ‘unearthed’.
Bitcoin is mineable, but not all cryptocurrencies are, with some opting to release the entire supply in a single hit. In such cases the complete supply is either distributed into circulation or held by select parties, with there being no plausible way to mint or mine new coins. Popular instances of non-mineable tokens include the fast-rising Ripple, along with NEO, Stratsis, Waves, Lisk, EOS, Qtum, Omisego, IOTA, and NEM.
Illegally increasing supply
Bitcoin critics – in spite of the obvious technological evidence – have claimed that Bitcoin’s total can be increased via a Sybil attack or 51% attack. However, the reality is that neither a Sybil attack or 51% attack is feasible in the case of Bitcoin, so related arguments don’t really hold much ground. In fact, there is only one documented successful 51% attack on record. This occurred back in August 2016, when Ethereum-based altcoin Krypton was breached.
Another milestone in the books
It was always going to happen eventually, but now the 80% milestone has been hit, Bitcoin could enter the next stage of its growth. Plus, with just 20% of Bitcoins supply out there to be mined, claimed, and distributed, it could be the catalyst Bitcoin needs to rebound from its recent downturn.