According to the white paper, Bitcoin has a limited supply of 21 million coins, and on April 26, Bitcoin overcame the 17 million mark. According to Coinmarketcap, 17,000,012 Bitcoins were mined at the moment. Shortly before this event, the founding partner of Tetras Capital, Alex Sunnarborg, drew attention to the fact that 80% of the total supply was already mined, and said that Bitcoin was approaching the next "psychological barrier."
The rules of cryptocurrency generation assume that each block contains 12.5 new Bitcoins, and blocks are mined approximately every 10 minutes. That is, about 1,800 new Bitcoins are created per day. The previous millionth milestone was passed on November 22, 2016, when Bitcoin crossed the mark of 16 million coins. Venture capitalist Tim Draper, one of Tezos investors, believes that the achievement of the next million demonstrates, above all, the success of the technology. "I think that the creators in their wildest dreams did not imagine how important Bitcoin would be," Draper said.
At the same time, this event is a reminder of the nature of Bitcoin and its decentralized digital deficit which provides its value (it is technically impossible to create more new Bitcoins than the planned emission of 21 million coins). Trace Meyer, a lawyer for the gold standard, believes that governments can intervene in this alternative free economy and draws an analogy with the confiscation of gold declared by Roosevelt in 1933. "Increasing money supply is a means to confiscate through inflation which is a form of taxation without representation or due process of law. First comes illegality of hodling a tool of monetary sovereignty (EO 6102). Then comes hard-fork to steal your purchasing power," he wrote on his Twitter.
Bitcoin is not issued centrally, that is, it avoids the manipulative risks associated with the increase in emissions, when the currency is issued by the central bank. Instead, coins are created through the efforts of many unrelated miners. Even the mining moniker itself refers not to banking processes, but to "free" and natural gold mining.
At the same time, the reward to the miners changes with the passage of time. Bitcoin is "programmed" so that every 210,000 units, the network halves the reward for the unit in the so-called "halving" process, which ensures that the cryptocurrency is limited in automatic mode. The artificial reduction of the number of coins produced allows excluding inflation and creating a deficit of the cryptocurrency, which leads to a proportional increase in the price. Thus, when Satoshi Nakamoto obtained the first block on January 3, 2009, he created the first 50 Bitcoins. The size of the reward remained unchanged for 209,999 blocks, after which the first halving took place. The subsequent two halvings (in 2012 and 2016) reduced the block reward to 25 and 12.5 Bitcoins respectively, and provided that the Bitcoin protocol remains unchanged (that is, the block time, the halving schedule, and the upper emission threshold), the last Bitcoin will be mined in May 2140.
Anonymous moderator of r/Bitcoin under the nickname BashCo created a diagram reflecting the ratio of aggregate Bitcoin emissions and inflation, where inflation is equal to the cost of a Coinbase transaction multiplied by the number of blocks produced per year and divided by the number of coins that have been mined so far. "Although 17 million Bitcoins can seem like a large sum, they are incredibly scarce, and at the moment they are not enough to even to distribute one Bitcoin among all of today's millionaires. Fortunately, each Bitcoin is divided into 100 million Satoshi, and therefore there are always many parts of Bitcoin in circulation," notes the leading developer of the wallet, Casa, Jameson Lopp.
The issuance of 21 million complete coins, however, cannot be achieved anymore, as it will be less than at least 1 Satoshi, since on May 17, 2011, the miner under the name midnightmagic, having extracted the 124,724 block, for obscure reasons reduced his reward to 49.99999999 Bitcoins (although at that time it was 50 Bitcoins).
It is assumed that the miners will continue to support Bitcoin even after reaching full emission, and then their reward will consist only of commissions of users. In a paper published in 2016, a group of Princeton University professors disputes the applicability of this hypothesis in practice, saying that without a reward for the block, Bitcoin will become unstable.