What Is The Total Supply Of Bitcoin, And Why Is It Capped?

You’ve probably heard about Bitcoin, the digital currency that has taken the world by storm. But have you ever wondered about its total supply and why it is capped? Well, Bitcoin operates on a unique system where the total supply is limited to 21 million coins. This limited supply is one of the key factors that sets Bitcoin apart from traditional currencies and plays a crucial role in maintaining its value. In this article, we will explore the total supply of Bitcoin and delve into the reasons behind its capped nature. So, let’s jump right in and uncover the fascinating world of Bitcoin’s supply.

Total Supply of Bitcoin

Bitcoin’s Initial Release

Bitcoin was first introduced to the world on January 3, 2009, with the release of its pioneering white paper by an anonymous individual or group known as Satoshi Nakamoto. This marked the birth of the world’s first decentralized digital currency.

Blockchain and Mining

At the core of Bitcoin’s existence is its decentralized public ledger system called the blockchain. The blockchain serves as a transparent and immutable record of all transactions ever made on the Bitcoin network. To validate and add new transactions to the blockchain, a process known as mining is employed.

Mining involves solving complex mathematical puzzles using powerful computers, known as miners. These miners compete to find a solution to the puzzle, and the first one to solve it gets the privilege to add a new block of transactions to the blockchain.

Fixed Supply at 21 Million

Unlike traditional fiat currencies, Bitcoin has a fixed supply cap of 21 million coins. This means that there will only ever be a maximum of 21 million bitcoins in existence. This scarcity is one of the key reasons Bitcoin holds value.

Current Circulating Supply

As of now, a significant number of bitcoins have already been mined and circulated. However, the exact number of bitcoins in circulation is constantly changing due to various factors such as lost coins, unmined bitcoins, and the ongoing mining process.

What Is The Total Supply Of Bitcoin, And Why Is It Capped?

Bitcoin’s Initial Release

Creation of Bitcoin

Bitcoin was created as a response to the flaws inherent in traditional centralized financial systems. Satoshi Nakamoto aimed to develop a peer-to-peer electronic cash system that would allow individuals to bypass intermediaries like banks and governments when making transactions.

Satoshi Nakamoto

Despite being the mysterious creator of Bitcoin, little is known about the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto. It is believed to be a pseudonym used by an individual or group. Nakamoto’s invention of Bitcoin and the blockchain technology behind it revolutionized the world of finance and led to the development of numerous other cryptocurrencies.

Genesis Block

The genesis block, also known as Block 0, marked the launch of the Bitcoin blockchain. It was mined by Nakamoto on January 3, 2009, and served as the foundation for all subsequent blocks in the chain. The hash of the genesis block contains a unique message referencing a newspaper headline that signifies the unstable economic climate at that time.

The 50 BTC Reward

In the early days of Bitcoin, miners were rewarded with 50 bitcoins for each block they successfully mined. This reward served as an incentive for miners to secure the network and ensure the integrity of the blockchain. The block subsidy, as it is called, reduces over time through a process known as halving.

What Is The Total Supply Of Bitcoin, And Why Is It Capped?

Blockchain and Mining

The Role of Blockchain

The blockchain is a decentralized and distributed ledger that allows for the secure and transparent recording of transactions. It serves as the foundation of Bitcoin’s network and ensures that all transactions are verified and cannot be altered or tampered with.

Consensus Mechanism

The consensus mechanism used by Bitcoin’s blockchain is called Proof of Work (PoW). This mechanism requires miners to perform computationally intensive calculations to solve mathematical puzzles before adding a new block to the blockchain. This process helps maintain the security and immutability of the network.

Proof of Work

Proof of Work is a consensus algorithm that ensures the authenticity and integrity of transactions on the Bitcoin network. By requiring miners to solve complex puzzles, PoW creates a barrier to entry for potential attackers who would need an excessive amount of computational power to compromise the network.

Mining Process

The mining process involves miners competing to solve a mathematical puzzle, known as a hash function, in order to add a new block to the blockchain. Miners use specialized hardware and software to perform these calculations and the first one to find the correct solution earns the right to add the block and receive the block subsidy.

What Is The Total Supply Of Bitcoin, And Why Is It Capped?

Fixed Supply at 21 Million

Bitcoin Halving

Bitcoin halving is an event that occurs approximately every four years, or after every 210,000 blocks are mined. During a halving, the block subsidy is cut in half. This means that the number of new bitcoins generated per block decreases, reducing the rate at which new bitcoins enter circulation.

Halving Schedule

The halving events are programmed into the Bitcoin protocol and occur roughly every four years. The first halving took place in November 2012, reducing the block reward from 50 to 25 bitcoins. The second halving occurred in July 2016, further reducing the reward to 12.5 bitcoins. The most recent halving took place in May 2020, reducing the reward to 6.25 bitcoins.

Decreasing Block Rewards

With each halving event, the number of bitcoins rewarded to miners decreases. This ensures a gradual reduction in the rate at which new bitcoins are added to circulation. The decreasing block rewards, combined with the fixed supply cap of 21 million, contribute to Bitcoin’s scarcity and potential long-term value.

21 Million Hard Cap

The total supply of bitcoins is capped at 21 million coins. This limit is hardcoded into the Bitcoin protocol and cannot be changed. It is estimated that the last bitcoin will be mined around the year 2140. Once the 21 million cap is reached, no new bitcoins will be created, further enhancing their scarcity and potentially driving up their value.

What Is The Total Supply Of Bitcoin, And Why Is It Capped?

Current Circulating Supply

Bitcoin Distribution

The current circulating supply of bitcoins refers to the number of coins that have been mined and are actively being used for transactions or held by individuals and institutions. As of the time of writing, it is estimated that around 18.6 million bitcoins have been mined, leaving approximately 2.4 million still to be mined.

Lost Bitcoins

Bitcoin’s decentralized nature means that individuals have full control over their own funds. However, this freedom comes with the risk of lost bitcoins. It is estimated that a significant number of bitcoins may have been lost due to the loss of private keys or inaccessible wallets. These lost bitcoins contribute to the scarcity of the remaining supply.

Unmined Bitcoins

While a significant number of bitcoins have already been mined, there are still approximately 2.4 million bitcoins that have yet to be created. These bitcoins will gradually enter circulation as miners continue to solve mathematical puzzles and add new blocks to the blockchain.

Circulating Supply Figures

Tracking the exact circulating supply of bitcoins can be challenging due to various factors such as lost coins and the ongoing mining process. Websites like CoinMarketCap provide estimates based on available data, but the exact number is subject to change. The circulating supply figures play a crucial role in assessing the overall market value and liquidity of Bitcoin.

What Is The Total Supply Of Bitcoin, And Why Is It Capped?


Bitcoin’s total supply is capped at 21 million coins, ensuring scarcity and potential long-term value. Through the blockchain and mining process, new bitcoins are gradually added to circulation. The halving events reduce the block rewards, further slowing down the rate of new supply. As the circulating supply changes over time, lost coins and unmined bitcoins contribute to the scarcity of the remaining supply. Understanding the total supply of Bitcoin is crucial for investors and enthusiasts alike as they analyze its potential as a store of value and medium of exchange in the modern digital economy.