Only 4 Million Of The Total 21 Million Bitcoin Left

Conor Maloney
  • Bitcoin was designed to be deflationary - the low supply keeps the prices high due to scarcity.
  • The last Bitcoin is due to be mined in 140 years. 

The 17 millionth Bitcoin is due to be mined today, leaving only 4 million left in the total supply of 21 million. Bitcoin was designed to mimic the properties of natural resources like gold. The scarcity is deliberate, and designed to maintain and increase the value of the currency.

In fact, the rate of mining is slowing all the time - while at the moment, approximately 1800 coins are mined per day with a new block added every ten minutes, the design causes this rate to half every 4 years, thus creating the supply curve seen below.

How is Bitcoin created?

Bitcoin is "mined" by people running powerful computers called mining nodes. Nodes store the blockchain data and mining nodes verify transactions and keep the Bitcoin network operational. The process is called 'proof-of-work' and it is this expensive 'mining' that truly gives bitcoin its economic value.

Transactions are gathered into "blocks" and added to the blockchain in exchange for rewards - to create a block of data, the miners use computing power to guess the correct answer to cryptographic algorithms, which is also a deliberate feature aimed to distribute power evenly and prevent groups from dominating the network, by making it difficult and expensive to mine.

Currently miners are rewarded 12.5 BTC per block compared to 25 BTC two years ago and 50 BTC in the beginning - the rewards and rates decrease proportionately over time, ideally to match the increase in value so as not to give miners too much wealth at once.

The curency is deflationary, meaning that the scarcity generally contributed to the price increasing. Here's a chart made by r/bitcoin mod BashCo portraying the supply vs the inflation. 

Bitcoin supply curve

It's estimated that the last Bitcoin willl be mined in 120 years (2140), but this won't spell the end of the currency - much as we've seen happen already, the only likely outcome is that the price will increase even further due to the supply turning deflationiary as users lose private keys by accident. 

U.S. Congressman McHenry Calls Bitcoin ‘An Unstoppable Force’ at Libra Hearing

As far as cryptocurrency fans are concerned, one U.S. Congressman, Patrick McHenry, was the star of the House Financial Services Committee hearing on Libra on Wednesday (July 17). 

Before we talk about what happened at this hearing, and more specifically, how Congressman McHenry managed to endear himself to all blockchain and cryptocurrency fans, it might be helpful to present a very brief biography of him here.

Patrick Timothy McHenry is the U.S. Representative for North Carolina's 10th congressional district. He is serving his eight term at the U.S. congress, where he is currently the Republican Leader of the House Financial Services Committee, "a committee he has served on since he was elected to Congress" (in 2004, when he was just 29 years old).

On Wednesday (July 17), a day after Facebook's David Marcus, who is a co-creator of Libra and the head of the Calibra project, faced tough questions at the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (aka "Senate Banking Committee"), came the real grilling at a full hearing (titled "Examining Facebook’s Proposed Cryptocurrency and Its Impact on Consumers, Investors, and the American Financial System") of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services.

Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), who had previously implored Facebook to stop working on the Libra project until Congress could understand better the implications of what Facebook's proposed cryptocurrency, started the hearing by delivering a prepared statement, during which she, once again, expressed her "serious concerns with Facebook’s plans":

This venture is slated to be based in Switzerland, which has a history as a monetary haven for criminals and shady corporations. Facebook’s plans raise serious privacy, trading, national security, and monetary policy concerns, not only for Facebook’s over 2 billion users, who will have immediate access to these products, but also for consumers, investors and the global economy.

 Congressman McHenry's gave his opening remarks around 11:00 (Eastern Time). Here were the main highlights:

  • "Washington must go beyond the hype and ensure that it's not the place where innovation goes to die."
  • "Just because we may not fully understand a new technology proposal does not mean we should immediately call for its prohibition, especially when that proposal is just that — a proposal."
  • "The reality is whether Facebook is involved or not, change is here. Digital currencies exist. Blockchain technology is real. And Facebook's entry in this world is just confirmation, albeit at scale."
  •  "The world that Satoshi Nakamoto, author of the Bitcoin whitepaper, envisioned—and others are building—is an unstoppable force."
  • "We should not attempt to deter this innovation, and governments cannot stop this innovation. And those that have tried have already failed."
  • "Instead of a knee jerk reaction of banning something before it begins, my Replication colleagues and I want to first try an understanding. An in turn, based off what we learn, determine whether or not our current regulatory framework meets the demands of this new technology."  

Then, around 15:30 (ET), McHenry began his questioning of David Marcus about Libra; some of his most interesting questions are listed below.

McHenry: Is it a security?

Marcus: We don't believe it is, Congressman.

McHenry: Is it a commodity?

Marcus: Congressman, based on current U.S. law, it might be a commodity, but we see it as a payment tool.

McHenry: Is it an exchange traded fund?

Marcus: It is not, Congressman.

Congressman McHenry repeated his claim about Bitcoin being an unstoppable force during an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin on CNBC's morning news and talk program "Squawk Box":

I think there is no capacity to kill Bitcoin. Even the Chinese with their firewall and their extreme intervention in their society could not kill Bitcoin.

Sorkin then told McHenry that although it might not be possible to technically "kill" Bitcoin, it was possible for governments to create legislation that made access to Bitcoin illegal for their citizens at fiat on/off ramps such as exchanges (e.g. Coinbase) and custodial wallets (e.g. Calibra), and that would "effectively make it very very difficult for the mainstream to use it." Sorkin then said that's why investors in Bitcoin were worried, which explained the recent drop in price.

McHenry replied:

Yes, so the price has come down to roughly $10,000... But you are talking about something that... people were giving away for free. It's now trading at $10,000... But the essence of Bitcoin is what Libra, Facebook, and corporates are trying to mimic.