How many bitcoin are there and where are they?
How many bitcoin are there and where are they?
Bitcoin

How many bitcoin are there and where are they?

By Alfredo de Candia - 23 Aug 2020

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One of the questions that newbies often ask themselves is: how many bitcoin are there?

As everyone knows by now, BTC has a total supply of 21 million, but it will reach that figure in about 120 years, as only 6.25 BTC are produced every 10 minutes and this figure is halved every 4 years.

A limited number of bitcoin

To answer this question we need to take a step back and go and read the whitepaper written by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008. In this document, the creator of Bitcoin explained how the total supply of the asset had to be limited.

That’s why Satoshi had devised a mechanism where at first 50 BTC were created every 10 minutes until a cycle of blocks was completed, which happens every 210,000 blocks.

After each cycle, lasting about 4 years, the reward is halved and this will happen until that value can no longer be halved and the “Coinbase” will be equal to 0.

Currently, 6.25 new bitcoin are created every 10 minutes or so and no longer 50.

Why are there 21 million bitcoin?

Many people often wonder what this number corresponds to or why Satoshi has chosen this amount of supply.

It’s actually a mystery, even though last year a mythical Pakistani character who claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto said that 21 million is from the breakdown of the date 18-11-2008, when the BCCI.net site would have been registered.

This theory, however, is most likely false.

Who has and where are all the bitcoin?

During this decade since the first mined block, the bitcoin have spread to many wallets and addresses.

There are just under 40 million BTC addresses, but some of them are inaccessible because their owners have lost their private key.

It is estimated that out of the 18 million BTC in circulation, there are about 4 million BTC lost forever.

BTC chart

As can be seen from the chart, most of the BTC are in the hands of various exchanges, but it should be remembered that there are many unknown addresses in the hands of various exchanges, so this number is abundantly underestimated.

Moreover, from this data it is possible to see how the addresses are distributed according to the amounts: 

  • Just under 2 million addresses that have between 1 and 10 BTC;
  • Over 4 million addresses that have at least between 10 and 100 BTC;
  • 3.5 million addresses that have between 100 and 1000 BTC;
  • Over 5 million addresses holding between BTC 1000 and BTC 10000.

This is an interesting fact because, if we assume that there were 21 million people who had at least 1 BTC, then it would be impossible for everyone in the world to own at least one.

And this is where the theory of the scarcity of the asset comes into play: the lower the availability of the asset, in this case BTC, the higher the price the buyer will have to pay to obtain it, should demand rise.

Alfredo de Candia

Android developer for over 8 years with a dozen of developed apps, Alfredo at age 21 has climbed Mount Fuji following the saying: "He who climbs Mount Fuji once in his life is a wise man, who climbs him twice is a Crazy". Among his app we find a Japanese database, a spam and virus database, the most complete database on Anime and Manga series birthdays and a shitcoin database. Sunday Miner, Alfredo has a passion for crypto and is a fan of EOS.

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