CoinMetric has just published a study listing as precisely as possible, all bitcoins (BTC) made inaccessible for various reasons. Of the 18 million BTC produced over the past 10 years, no less than 1.5 million coins are considered to be definitively lost.
21 million arguments against inflation
It is common to remember that the “Total supply” (the total amount) of Bitcoin (BTC), can never exceed 21 million units (and again, a very distant day in the 22nd century).
It is indeed one of the fundamental rules established by Satoshi Nakamoto himself : Bitcoin is intended on the one hand not to be the victim of the possibility of a wild rebroadcast (“anti-billboard” approach), and in addition, will be issued over time in less and less quantities. These characteristics make Bitcoin the quality of a currency deflationary. Furthermore, the number of BTCs is intended to be low (guaranteeing its scarcity) and the currency is configured algorithmically to be increasingly difficult to produce, supporting its value.
And agree that for a tool that aims to become a currency, 21 million units it is not very heavy (reason why the future of Bitcoin as a currency will necessarily pass mainly by the satoshi, its smallest unit, but that’s another story).
To date, 18 million BTCs have been mined. This figure was reached a few weeks ago, and celebrated with dignity. 18 million bitcoins which, scattered around the planet, are exchanged, sold, bought, stored…
Except that a study by the specialized company CoinMetric has just shown that this figure is actually much lower. It would seem that almost 1.5 million BTC … are permanently lost!
In search of lost BTC
CoinMetric has just released a study in the form of an answer to a simple question: what is the real quantity of bitcoins ” active In 2019.
Death or dramatic memory lapse owners of private cryptographic keys, bugs, “Zombie pieces”… There are many reasons that make large amounts of bitcoin permanently inaccessible. CoinMetric thus set out to deploy analysis tools in an attempt to sort them out.
However, this is a very thorny question. Indeed, a stationary or inactive bitcoin, it is not necessarily a definitively inaccessible BTC. Perhaps it is simply ” holdé “(Kept) for a very long time by its rightful owner, before getting out of its torpor (causing anxiety attacks in the market, especially if it is a “whale” portfolio).
However, CoinMetric identifies two main categories of lost corners. Somewhat anecdotally, a few hundred BTCs are deemed to be permanently inaccessible, following incidents or known and well documented events. This is the case with the 50 BTC reward from Genesis block (the first mined block that started the blockchain), or BTC frozen due to a bug Coinbase.
On the other hand, where things get serious, it is when we count the “Zombie Bitcoins”. These are the corners kept on wallets of which everything indicates that no one will be able to access them. And there, the figures speak for themselves: nearly 1.5 million BTCs would be lost forever, locked in tamper-resistant wallets.
In the end, and according to CoinMetric’s calculations, rather than 18 million units, the figure of 16.3 million BTC would seem more realistic.
We will reserve all our compassion for the stories hiding behind the existence of overflowing BTC wallets that have become inaccessible to anyone. Difficult, however, not to make a somewhat cynical observation: the fewer there are bitcoins actually available, the more the happy owners of those who stay will have reason to rejoice.
Nice to meet you, it’s Hellmouth! Editor-in-chief of Bitcoin, the crypto media you are honoring to survey right now (well done, you have taste).
Crypto-enthusiast of the second hour, nothing is more important to me than supporting the global adoption and democratization of the treasures that the blockchain offers us.
I write articles between two cocktails in Tahiti, my adopted island, and do not hesitate, if the opportunity arises, to feast on a plump scam or a little too enterprising Ponzi pyramid.
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