Controlled Supply


“A fixed money supply, or a supply altered only in accord with objective and calculable criteria, is a necessary condition to a meaningful just price of money.”

Fr. Bernard W. Dempsey, S.J. (1903-1960)

In a centralized economy, currency is issued by a central bank at a rate that is supposed to match the growth of the amount of goods that are exchanged so that these goods can be traded with stable prices. The monetary base is controlled by a central bank. In the United States, the Fed increases the monetary base by issuing currency, increasing the amount banks have on reserve or by a process called Quantitative Easing.

In a fully decentralized monetary system, there is no central authority that regulates the monetary base. Instead, currency is created by the nodes of a peer-to-peer network.

The Bitcoin generation algorithm defines, in advance, how currency will be created and at what rate. Any currency that is generated by a malicious user that does not follow the rules will be rejected by the network and thus is worthless.

Currency with Finite Supply

Block reward halving
Controlled supply

Bitcoins are created each time a user discovers a new block. The rate of block creation is adjusted every 2016 blocks to aim for a constant two week adjustment period (equivalent to 6 per hour.)

The number of bitcoins generated per block is set to decrease geometrically, with a 50% reduction every 210,000 blocks, or approximately four years. The result is that the number of bitcoins in existence will not exceed slightly less than 21 million.

Speculated justifications for the unintuitive value “21 million” are that it matches a 4-year reward halving schedule; or the ultimate total number of Satoshis that will be mined is close to the maximum capacity of a 64-bit floating point number. Satoshi has never really justified or explained many of these constants.

Cumulated bitcoin supply

This decreasing-supply algorithm was chosen because it approximates the rate at which commodities like gold are mined. Users who use their computers to perform calculations to try and discover a block are thus called Miners.

21M or Death

21 Million or Death

The supply of Bitcoin is fixed at 21 million BTC, and as a hard coded monetary policy of the protocol, the fixed supply of the dominant cryptocurrency cannot be altered.

Former Google Product Director Steve Lee stated that only 1 percent of the world’s population can own more than 0.28 BTC, due to the fixed supply of Bitcoin.

In late 2017, Chainalysis, a blockchain forensics company that monitors and investigates cryptocurrency transactions, revealed in a research paper that up to four million BTC are permanently lost on the blockchain as a result of theft, loss of wallets and private keys, and the dormant wallet of Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto, which experts have said is no longer accessible.

Kim Grauer, Senior Economist at Chainalysis, said at the time, that the lost supply of BTC is not taken into consideration by the market cap.That means, the real price of BTC could be substantially higher, as 4 to 6 million BTC are estimated to be lost.

Based on the estimate that the supply of Bitcoin is around 17 million, only 0.8 percent of the world population can own more than 0.28 BTC and less than 0.2 of the world population can own more than 1 BTC.

The 0.28 BTC figure introduced by Lee assumes the supply of Bitcoin to be 21 million, as it divides 21 million by 0.28 and divides the outcome of that by the world population that is 7.442 billion. If the research of Chainalysis is accurate and that 4 to 6 million BTC are lost on the blockchain, the supply of Bitcoin should be closer to around 16 to 17 million

The fact that any investor in the global market can be within the 1 percent of the world population with a $1,830 investment demonstrates that the cryptocurrency market is still at its early phase, and in terms of adoption, market development, infrastructure, and regulation, the sector can still grow significantly in the mid to long-term.

Hal Finney

There is no “Whole Coin”