The Bitcoin (BTC) network has already created 18 million BTC, however, not all of them are currently available for users in the market.
According to data provided by CoinMetrics, there are over 1,500,000 coins that are assumed lost. However, the lost and stolen coins could reduce Bitcoin’s real supply even more.
Bitcoin Real Supply Far Below 18 Million
As per the report provided by CoinMetrics, the expected Bitcoin supply at block 600,000 was 18 million BTC.
Nevertheless, taking into account the provably lost coins, Bitcoin’s supply should be adjusted to 17,999,817.32 BTC.
This does not seem a large reduction of the supply considering this is just ~0.00086% of the total number of Bitcoin that will ever be mined.
Things are different if we have a look at the assumed lost coins. The report suggests there are at least 1,501,730.43 BTC lost. That would make the current real supply of Bitcoin equal to 16,498,086.88 BTC.
Furthermore, there are at least 197,047.31 BTC coins stolen that would also reduce the total supply of Bitcoin. That means that the whole ‘Liquid’ Bitcoin supply is less than 16,301,039.56 BTC. That would represent a decline in the real supply of Bitcoin of ~9.43%.
The report reads as follows:
“BTC expected supply was 18,000,000 at block 600,000. But there are over 1,500,000 coins that are assumed lost. And many more that were stolen and haven’t moved.”
BTC expected supply was 18,000,000 at block 600,000.
But there are over 1,500,000 coins that are assumed lost.
And many more that were stolen and haven’t moved since…
— CoinMetrics.io (@coinmetrics) November 19, 2019
This shows how Bitcoin scarcity can play a very important role in determining the real number of BTC in the market.
At the moment, each block rewards miners with 12.5 BTC. This reward is expected to be reduced to 6.25 BTC in May 2020.
With a lower number of Bitcoin in the market, the price of the cryptocurrency could eventually grow even higher with a shock on the demand’s side.
If a new bull market starts, the lower new issuance of Bitcoin would definitely have a positive effect on price.
According to the report, several BTC has been lost due to technical reasons, such as unclaimed block rewards or the 50 BTC in the Genesis block.
Moreover, several users have sent funds to accounts they do not have access to, which ended up in burning the coins and taking them away from circulation.