90% of all bitcoins have been mined as of Monday morning, according to data from blockchain tracker Blockchain.com. The feat means 18.89 million bitcoins – of a maximum of 21 million – are now on the open market.
Reaching the milestone took nearly 12 years since the first bitcoins were mined on Jan. 9, 2009. However, the remaining supply is not expected to be mined till February 2140, based on network activity estimates and Bitcoin’s halving schedules.
Prices have mirrored the increasing supply as demand for newer bitcoin heats up. The asset exchanged hands for less than $0.10, when 10% of the supply was mined in early 2010, and hovered over $7.50 when 50% of the supply was mined in December 2012. As of press time, it trades over $49,000, having declined 28% from its peak of $69,000 earlier this year, as per data from CoinGecko.
Bitcoin, as a proof-of-work network, relies on network participants called ‘miners’ who continually process transactions and validate blocks in a process broadly referred to as ‘mining.’
Such participants provide their computing resources and hardware to solve millions of complex calculations on the Bitcoin network each second, receiving bitcoin as ‘rewards’. Miners currently receive 6.25 bitcoin for each block they mine, which would drop to 3.125 bitcoin after the next halving in 2024.
Meanwhile, not all of 21 million bitcoin are expected to be available on the open market. Crypto analytics firm Chainalysis estimates 3.7 million bitcoin have been ‘lost’ based on analyzing address activity, from reasons ranging from losing one’s private keys to even death. A further 1 million bitcoin is held by Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto – an untouched amount since the pseudonymous person/s mined the amount in the network’s early days.