- The last bitcoin is set to be mined around 2140
- What will happen to Bitcoin miners when the Bitcoin seam runs dry?
- We take a look at the factors involved in miners’ future planning
The last bitcoin is scheduled to be mined around 2140, 131 years after Satoshi Nakamoto mined the first ever. But what will happen when the supply runs out completely? Will miners quit? Will the blockchain survive? We take a look at what will happen to miners when the Bitcoin well dries up.
120 Years to Go…
The mining of the last ever bitcoin in around 120 years’ time will mean that Bitcoin miners no longer need to solve the complex mathematical puzzles required to keep the blockchain going. Miners get rewarded for processing transactions as well as adding the next block to the Bitcoin blockchain, but it is currently the latter than is a Bitcoin miner’s bread and butter. With this income stream erased, what will happen to them?
The fact is that Bitcoin miners’ income is already being tapered down towards this eventuality over time thanks to the four-yearly halving event. The amount of bitcoin a miner gets rewarded is cut in half every four years, which will, in theory, continue until the last block is mined in 2140. Given that the reward is currently ₿6.25, by the time the world is celebrating the final bitcoin being mined the Bitcoin mining reward will be a theoretical ₿0.0000000116.
Bitcoin Halvings Helping Miners Prepare
Of course if this were to happen tomorrow out of the blue then Bitcoin mining would stop overnight, but this is programmed in, so all miners know exactly what to expect as each halving passes. Many will have targets in mind of when to pack up and go home, much of which of course will be dictated by the Bitcoin price.
As a guide, each miner currently receives $250,000 for every block it adds to the Bitcoin blockchain. If this level of profitability is to be maintained, the Bitcoin price will have to be $10 million by the 2052 halving, $42 billion by the 2100 halving and into the trillions by the time the last Bitcoin block is mined in 2140. Clearly this is out of the question, so Bitcoin miners are going to have to get used to diminishing returns over the decades, leading to many leaving the space altogether as the years until just a few remain.
Transaction Fees Expected to Replace Mining Income
Once the mining is all done, the miners that are left will have to rely on transaction fees as their chief source of income. Satoshi predicted that by 2140 the number of transactions being conducted on the Bitcoin blockchain would make up for the lack of income from mining, although achieving such a milestone will necessitate huge scaling on the Bitcoin network.
Those miners still left when the calendar trips over to 2140 will face a crucial decision – to trust in Bitcoin transactions to keep food on the table or to jack it in. Of course we don’t know what state Bitcoin, and the world, will be in by then, but here’s hoping that the Earth is still around to witness the last bitcoin being mined in 120 years.