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The Countdown to Bitcoin’s Scarcity: Nearing the Fourth Halving

A New Threshold in Bitcoin’s Limited Supply

With the current data showing that a staggering 93.6% of Bitcoin’s total supply has been unearthed, we stand on the precipice of a significant change. A mere 1.34 million Bitcoins remain available for mining, signifying a pivotal moment in the cryptocurrency’s lifecycle. The next halving event promises to further constrict the flow of Bitcoin, halving the mining reward and ushering in an unparalleled era of scarcity. After the 2028 halving, miners will face a landmark adjustment, receiving 1.5625 Bitcoins per block, marking the last instance when a whole Bitcoin forms part of the mining reward before the subsequent 2032 adjustment.

The Final Stretch: Mining’s Diminishing Returns

This year is a landmark for Bitcoin, as it faces an imminent reduction in its mining rewards, cutting down from 6.25 to 3.125 BTC per block. This dramatic adjustment follows the pattern of diminishing returns since Bitcoin’s inception, contrasting sharply with the initial 50 BTC reward. Notable milestones in Bitcoin’s mining saga include reaching 25% of its total supply by April 22, 2010, half by December 14, 2011, and three-quarters by July 29, 2015. As of December 13, 2021, 90% of Bitcoins were circulating, marking the approach toward complete issuance.

The Approach of the Fourth Halving: Tightening Bitcoin’s Availability

Anticipated around April 20, 2024, the fourth halving will see mining rewards halve once more. Presently, with 93.6% of the supply mined, the remaining 1.34 million BTC represent a dwindling frontier of opportunity. Bitcoin’s current circulation is largely held across various entities, including corporations, governments, and decentralized platforms, with significant portions also locked in exchanges and deemed as “zombie bitcoins” – those not moved for years, potentially lost but not officially accounted for as such.

The Landscape of Bitcoin Ownership and Accessibility

An examination reveals that major holders, including corporations and governments, own 11.88% of Bitcoin’s supply. Centralized exchanges hold 9.54%, and “zombie bitcoins” account for 8.09%, excluding the share owned by Bitcoin’s creator, which amounts to 4.76% of the total. With 6.39% of Bitcoin yet to be mined, this implies a significant portion of the supply is inaccessible to the average person. Factoring in customer ownership on exchanges reduces the publicly accessible supply even further, to approximately 34.94%.

The Horizon of Bitcoin Mining: Nearing Total Issuance

The 2028 halving will further decrease mining rewards to 1.5625 BTC per block, leading to an estimated 99% of Bitcoin’s supply being mined by February 20, 2035. This progression will reduce mining rewards to fractions of a Bitcoin in subsequent halvings, culminating in an increasingly scarce resource. As we edge closer to this future, Bitcoin’s foundation on scarcity starkly contrasts with the prevailing fiat currency model, heralding a new chapter in the cryptocurrency narrative.

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