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How Many Bitcoins Are in the Market?

Aug 14, 2023
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Marketing Batman

Bitcoin, the premier currency, serves as the focal point for all other cryptocurrencies. Since its advent over a decade ago, it has caught the eyes of individuals, investors, and institutions. And this is because of its unique qualities such as its decentralized nature, divisibility, fungibility and scarcity. These qualities are determined by various features programmed into bitcoin's technology. For instance, bitcoin's scarcity is mainly governed by its capped supply.

This is why investors and traders are always keen to understand the total quantity of bitcoins in circulation at each given point. It is a vital piece of information that determines bitcoin value to a large extent.  So in this article, we will delve into the number of bitcoins in the market, how many are left to mine, and how many are in circulation.

Bitcoin is the pioneer of this new financial era. It stands as a pacesetter and a testament to the decentralization, independence from traditional banking systems, and potential for immense value appreciation of cryptocurrencies. 

At the core of Bitcoin's uniqueness lies its fixed supply: 21 million coins will ever come into existence. This ceiling is a direct result of the blockchain technology that controls Bitcoin's operation. Through a process known as mining, new Bitcoins are created, but this creation is restricted by the protocol that has capped the supply to 21 million. Blockchain's unchangeable nature and Bitcoin's consensus mechanism ensure that the supply remains predictable and finite.

Unlike traditional currencies, which governments can print at will, Bitcoin operates on a controlled and predictable supply mechanism. This controlled supply is similar to the limited amount of precious metals like gold or silver in the physical world. This scarcity infuses Bitcoin with a unique digital value, making it a more respectable digital commodity than just another form of money.

The constrained supply mechanism and the resulting scarcity have significant implications for Bitcoin's perception and use. For instance, it infuses a sense of rarity and exclusivity. This is why Bitcoin is often referred to as "digital gold." 

The Number of Bitcoins in Circulation

Bitcoins in circulation represent the active supply of the digital currency available for transactions. They are mined, obtained, and actively used in various financial activities. Like paper money or coins in your wallet, these circulating Bitcoins serve as the digital equivalents that individuals can trade in exchange for goods and services. 

Currently, just over 19.4 million Bitcoins are in circulation, as per CoinMarketCap data. This figure holds great significance, as it reflects that 92.44% of the total 21 million Bitcoin tokens have already entered the market and are actively participating in the cryptoverse.

This number will continue to evolve due to the dual nature of Bitcoin's creation and consumption. On one hand, new Bitcoins are mined into existence by solving complex computational processes. On the other hand, circulating Bitcoins are spent, traded, and even lost, which also affect the supply. This interplay of creation, consumption, and capped supply makes the Bitcoin's ecosystem far more predictive than traditional forms of currency.

As new Bitcoins get mined, the numbers increase, and others get used in transactions. The crypto world believes that Bitcoin will reach its maximum supply by 2140. This long timeline showcases the scarcity built into Bitcoin's protocol and reinforces its deflationary nature that sets it apart from fiat currencies that are naturally prone to inflation. 

An image showing the number of Bitcoin tokens in circulation from October 2009 to August 2, 2023 (Source: Statista)

The Process of Mining and Creation of New Bitcoins

Mining is how new Bitcoins are made and the system is kept secure. In the world of cryptocurrencies, mining means solving tough math puzzles that prove transactions are real and should be added to the blockchain. This way, every Bitcoin transaction is checked to be genuine.

Miners use powerful computers to solve these math problems. Mining is basically a race to be the first to solve these problems, with the successful miner rewarded with the privilege of adding a fresh batch of transactions to the blockchain. As a tangible reward for their computational efforts, the successful miner receives newly minted Bitcoins, which serves as the primary avenue for the introduction of new coins into the Bitcoin ecosystem.

So if there's a capped supply of Bitcoin, how is the injection of Bitcoin into the market regulated? The answer: Bitcoin halving.

Bitcoin Halving

Bitcoin's design incorporates a mechanism to control the influx of new coins: the concept of "Bitcoin halving." Roughly every four years, miners' reward for verifying new transactions is halved. This strategically and gradually reduces the rate of new Bitcoin creation over time. It slows down the number of new Bitcoins entering the circulation, similar to how natural resources deplete with time. 

Miners are really important in the Bitcoin system. They don't just make new coins, they also make sure transactions are real and the record is safe. Without miners, the system could be attacked or be flooded with fraudulent transactions. 

What Happens When All 21 Million Bitcoins Are Mined?

A significant point in Bitcoin's journey will be the point at which all 21 million Bitcoins have been mined, which will mark the apex of its Bitcoin mining. This event will change the supply dynamics of the premier cryptocurrency and impact the Bitcoin ecosystem and its stakeholders.

With no more new Bitcoins being mined, the supply side becomes static. On the other hand, demand will continue to evolve due to increasing adoption, changing regulations, and geopolitical events.

As new Bitcoins cease to be minted, miners would rely entirely on transaction fees to incentivize their computational efforts. This could lead to increased competition among users to include their transactions in blocks and offer higher prices, potentially impacting the cost and speed of transactions.

This post-mining era highlights the importance of transactional efficiency and the delicate balance between cost, speed, and security that exist within the Bitcoin ecosystem. As the competition for block space intensifies, Bitcoin users may seek innovative solutions to optimize their transactions and navigate the changing fee landscape. Furthermore, this new dynamics could pave the way for innovative approaches to maintain the network's integrity and security. 

Factors Affecting Bitcoin Supply

Certain factors control the supply of Bitcoin. Some of them include halving events, controlled scarcity, mining difficulty, and market sentiments. These factors contribute to the Bitcoin's unique scarcity-driven value proposition and its defining quality as a new form of digital value and investment.

Halving Events

Occurring approximately every four years, halving events are programmed reductions in the rewards miners receive for successfully adding a new block to the blockchain. Like stated earlier, halving events enforce a gradual decrease in the issuance rate, ultimately leading to the capped supply of 21 million Bitcoins. 

Each halving event reduces the number of new Bitcoins by half. For example, in the first halving, the reward per block was reduced from 50 to 25 Bitcoins. In the second halving, it decreased further to 12.5 Bitcoins. And it has been reducing since then. Currently, miners earn 6.25 bitcoins as block rewards.  

Controlled Scarcity

The halving mechanism, combined with the capped supply of 21 million Bitcoins, results in controlled scarcity. This scarcity underlines Bitcoin's potential as a store of value and differentiates it from traditional fiat currencies subject to inflation.

Adoption and Demand

The demand for Bitcoin can impact its supply dynamics. As adoption grows and more individuals and institutions seek to hold Bitcoin, its scarcity-driven nature could lead to increased demand, potentially influencing its value and price.

Mining Difficulty

Bitcoin's protocol adjusts the difficulty of mining based on the total computational power of the network. As more miners join or leave the network, the difficulty changes to maintain a stable rate of block creation. This adjustment also affects the rate at which new Bitcoins are mined.

Market Sentiment

Investor sentiment and market trends can impact Bitcoin's supply indirectly. For instance, increased interest from investors seeking a hedge against traditional economic uncertainties can contribute to higher demand, affecting price and, by extension, supply dynamics.

Bitcoin Distribution and Ownership

Unlike traditional financial systems where central institutions manage accounts, every Bitcoin user is required to have a digital wallet(s) to store and transact their Bitcoins. Digital wallets enable the distribution of Bitcoins through a string of alphanumeric characters known as addresses. 

Central to Bitcoin's democratization ethos is the act of distribution, a process that occurs through the allocation of Bitcoins across these individual addresses. Unlike conventional banking systems, where centralized entities manage account balances, Bitcoin's decentralized nature ensures that the responsibility of managing and controlling one's holdings rests squarely with the individual user. This promotes the core philosophy of financial inclusivity that defines the network's design.

A notable feature that emerges within the distributed landscape of Bitcoin ownership is the presence of entities that stand out due to their substantial Bitcoin holdings. Often referred to as "whales," these entities wield a considerable influence over market dynamics and price movements. The actions of these significant holders can lead to ripples in the market, impacting sentiment and potentially triggering large market shifts.

Some of these significant holders include tech giants such as MicroStrategy and Tesla have captivated attention with their substantial Bitcoin investments. These high-profile entities reflect the Bitcoin's growing acceptance among mainstream companies. Their strategic allocation of resources to acquire Bitcoin signifies a confidence in the currency's potential as a store of value and an investment asset.

Bitcoin Supply and Demand

Bitcoin's supply is inherently scarce and capped at 21 million coins. Unlike traditional fiat currencies subject to inflation and printing, the controlled issuance of new Bitcoins occurs through a process known as mining. This process ensures that new coins are released at a diminishing rate.

Bitcoin's demand has evolved significantly since its inception. Initially, it attracted tech enthusiasts and early adopters intrigued by the novel concept of a decentralized digital currency. Over time, its use cases expanded to include remittances, international transfers, and online payments.

When demand outpaces supply, the price tends to rise, as witnessed during heightened interest and institutional adoption periods. Conversely, price corrections can occur when supply exceeds demand, leading to market volatility.

Like mentioned earlier, Bitcoin's decentralized nature and finite supply make it susceptible to supply shocks, often triggered by external events or regulatory developments. Such events can lead to sudden shifts in supply or demand, impacting price dynamics. For example, Bitcoin halving events, which reduce the issuance rate, have historically driven price rallies due to the anticipation of reduced supply growth. So if this factor and more affect Bitcoin supply, what factors affect its demand?

Factors Affecting Bitcoin Demand

Bitcoin's demand is shaped by a multitude of complex factors, each contributing to its increasing investors’ interest, adoption, and investment. Some key factors include:

Market Sentiment and Perception

Positive media coverage and increased awareness can drive demand, while negative news, regulatory concerns, or security breaches can dampen demand.

Institutional Adoption

Investments from large institutions, such as corporations and hedge funds, signal legitimacy and attract more attention to Bitcoin. This unstitutional adoption often leads to increased demand due to larger capital inflows.

Economic Uncertainty

Bitcoin's decentralized nature and perceived store of value status attract investors seeking a hedge against economic instability. Even geopolitical events, trade tensions, and economic downturns can spur demand for non-traditional assets like Bitcoin.

Inflation Hedge

Bitcoin's capped supply and deflationary nature appeal to those concerned about the devaluation of fiat currencies due to inflation. This is why high inflation rates in certain countries can drive demand as citizens seek to preserve their wealth.

Global Remittances and Accessibility

Bitcoin's borderless nature enables efficient cross-border remittances, appealing to individuals in countries with limited financial infrastructure. Also, accessibility to financial services for the unbanked or underbanked populations drives demand in regions with limited traditional banking options.

The Interaction Between Bitcoin Supply and Demand

The interaction between Bitcoin supply and demand forms the bedrock of its market dynamics. When demand for Bitcoin rises, driven by factors such as increased adoption or economic uncertainty, its price tends to appreciate. The limited supply amplifies this effect, as more buyers compete for a fixed number of coins. Conversely, if demand wanes or negative sentiment prevails, the price may decline.

The halving events, which decrease the rate of new Bitcoin issuance, impact the supply side. As the issuance slows, scarcity deepens, potentially driving demand as investors seek a store of value against inflation.

The interaction between Bitcoin's supply and demand presents both challenges and opportunities. On the one hand, its fixed supply ensures protection against the potential devaluation of fiat currencies due to unchecked printing. On the other hand, the limited supply could lead to increased competition among participants seeking to acquire and hold a portion of this digital rarity.

How many bitcoins are there in the world?

Source: Techopedia


The question "How many bitcoins are in the market?" unveils a narrative that explores the uniqueness and intricacies of Bitcoin. From the Bitcoins in circulation, actively facilitating transactions across the globe, to the complex but rewarding process of mining that brings new coins into existence, each step in the Bitcoin journey contributes to its evolving ecosystem.

The controlled supply of 21 million Bitcoins and its halving events play a pivotal role in shaping Bitcoin's scarcity-driven value. Furthermore, the interaction between supply and demand, guided by factors such as institutional adoption, economic uncertainties, and market sentiment, showcases the dynamic forces that govern the Bitcoin market. 

Therefore, the question of "How many bitcoins are in the market?" is not just about a numerical count; it encapsulates the essence of the global financial revolution powered by Bitcoin. It reflects the fusion of technological innovation, economic philosophy, and the human pursuit of an alternative financial future. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How many bitcoins are in the market? 

Currently, there are over 19.4 million Bitcoins in circulation. The total supply is capped at 21 million, and new Bitcoins are created through mining.

How many unrecoverable, lost, and stolen bitcoins are there?

Estimating the exact number of unrecoverable, lost, or stolen Bitcoins is challenging. However, various analyses suggest that many may need to be recovered due to forgotten passwords, inaccessible wallets, or other reasons.

Who owns the most bitcoins?

It is likely that Satoshi, the creator of Bitcoin, has the most bitcoins of anyone.

When will the last bitcoin be mined?

Based on the current issuance rate and the halving events that occur approximately every four years, researchers estimate that the last Bitcoin will be mined around the year 2140.

How many bitcoin billionaires are there?

The number of individuals or entities holding more than a billion dollars worth of Bitcoin fluctuates with market trends. Early adopters, investors, and entrepreneurs have amassed significant wealth through Bitcoin's appreciation.