The More you Know: Bitcoin's Blockchain Prints 1,800 New BTC Every Day Via its Consensus Mining Software
When we talk about bitcoin, we often talk about bitcoin’s stationary supply: we talk about how there’s a max supply of 21 million bitcoins, for example, and that will never charge.
In reality, however, the supply of bitcoin is changing constantly. Many people are unaware that 1800 new BTC are printed every day. In fact, new BTC has been printed every 10 minutes since the inception of bitcoin on January 3, 2009.
That’s because bitcoin has a “block reward” function built into the system. This “bitcoin mining” block reward means that new bitcoins are added to the total supply every 10 minutes. Whenever a new block is mined, a certain number of bitcoins are released to the miner who mined that block. At the end of the day, those blocks add up to 1800 BTC every 24 hour period.
Bitcoin has given out block rewards every 10 minutes since inception. However, the specific number of bitcoins in those block rewards has changed over time.
Bitcoin has a built-in system where the block reward halves every three or four years. Every three or four years, the number of bitcoins released in each block reward gets cut in half. Here’s the rough schedule of how that block reward has changed over time:
2009 to 2011: 50 BTC per block
2012 to 2015: 25 BTC per block
2016 to 2020: 12.5 BTC per block (next halving expected april-june 2020)
2020 to 2024: 6.25 BTC per block
2024 to 2140: Halving every four years, eventually dropping to 0 BTC per block in May 2140
The block rewards will continue getting cut in half roughly every four years. If you do the math, that means the last bitcoin block reward will be issued in 2140. We can’t quite calculate the date on which the last bitcoin block reward will be mined. However, assuming mining power remains constant over time, the last bitcoin will be mined on May 7, 2140.
In total, there are 34 planned reward eras for the bitcoin blockchain. We started at 50 BTC per block from blocks 0 to 210000. That number was reduced to 25 per block from blocks 210000 to 420000. By the time we reach the 20th planned reward era with blocks 3990000 to 4200000, the network will be issuing 0.0004768 BTC per block.
America Prints $541 Million of New Currency Every Day
Have you ever wondered why we have inflation? Have you ever wondered why the $10 USD in your pocket today won’t be worth the same 20 years from now?
Well, it’s because of inflation. And the best example of the power of inflation comes from this stat, as featured by Pomp (@APompliano) on Twitter:
The US prints 38 million paper notes a day with a face value of approximately $541 million.
Bitcoin mines 1,800 BTC per day with a face value of approximately $13 million.
One currency is inflationary, the other deflationary. Choose wisely.
— Pomp 🌪 (@APompliano) September 3, 2018
- The United States prints 38 million paper notes per day with a face value of approximately $541 million USD
- Bitcoin mines 1800 BTC per day with a face value of $13 million
That’s why the US Dollar – like most fiat currencies – is inflationary, while bitcoin – unlike most currencies – is deflationary. The United States is arbitrary creating 42 times more value every day than bitcoin. You could argue that bitcoin isn’t “arbitrarily” creating value because miners need to spend money – and provide proof of work – to mine those bitcoins.
This is also the reason why 2020 will be an important year for bitcoin. The block reward will get cut in half. That’s like if the United States suddenly started printing $270.5 million of new currency every day instead of $541 million. Inflation drops overnight. Instead of 1800 BTC being created every 24 hours, we’ll only have 900 BTC created every 24 hours.
During the previous block reward halving cycles, the price of bitcoin sharply increased. There are fewer bitcoins being added to the network every day, while demand has remained constantly strong, causing prices to increase. If you bought $1 USD in 2009, then your dollar might only be worth, say $0.80 today in terms of purchasing power. If you bought 1 BTC in 2009 for a few pennies, then the purchasing power of that bitcoin has risen to the equivalent of $6500 USD.
Ultimately, bitcoin is one of the most inflation-resistant currencies in the world today. The circulating supply of bitcoin is increasing – and it will continue to increase every 10 minutes until the year 2140. However, the supply is increasing at a much lower rate than the supply of the USD and other fiat currencies.