It took less than e decade for miners from all over the world to generate 80% of bitcoin’s supply – that is 17 million BTC units. The last milestone was reached at the end of April, and now it is curious what will happen after the last 21 millionth piece of bitcoin is mined.
However, that isn’t likely to occur soon. The thing is that every 210,000 blocks the remuneration for miners halves, therefore, they are reluctant to work more intensively to get to the finish line.
As of writing, the miner’s reward for generating bitcoin is 12.5 coins. But in two years, when according to BitcoinBlockHalf.com the new halving takes place, it will reduce to 6.25 BTC units.
If there are no changes in bitcoin’s protocol, the last coin of the first crypto will be mined 122 years from now – only in 2140.
So what happens when this “prophecy” fulfills, and our descendants experience it?
At present, miners are motivated to generate bitcoins because they are getting pretty high rewards for that. However, when there is 21 millionth BTC unit mined (which is unlikely to happen due to mathematical inconsistency), miners will be left with no rewards, writes Gareth Jenkinson for the Cointelegraph.
But the transactions will still need to be confirmed, and who else if not miners, will have to do it? So miners will keep validating transactions and getting rewards from the remittances fees (which might grow, by the way). This is what has been said in the whitepaper of Satoshi Nakamoto.
What Will Happen Before That?
There is more than a century before the last BTC unit produced. And changes are to come in this span. Satoshi forecasted them to come:
“They [nodes] vote with their CPU power, expressing their acceptance of valid blocks by working on extending them and rejecting invalid blocks by refusing to work on them. Any needed rules and incentives can be enforced with this consensus mechanism.”
The problems within bitcoin’s net will be popping up within the following century, and some of them have already let us know about them.
Last year the agenda changed – such problem as scalability, the increase in transaction expenses and the size of block capacity appeared.
Eight years ago the creator of the first cryptocurrency set off a size limit for blocks – 1MB. That was done so that miners would be halted in generating larger blocks (they are typically declined by the net). Otherwise, bitcoin’s blockchain could have divided.
But the size wasn’t noticeable – at the time when fewer transactions took place on the net, the limit was more than enough to satisfy the appetite of users. And it was expected that the needed change could be launched with time.
Perhaps, Satoshi didn’t know that bitcoin could gain this much popularity as it has nowadays. People don’t only use it to carry out speedy peer-to-peer transactions but to store their value as well. This overloaded the net, however.
Therefore, devs brought up a solution called – SegWit. It was launched at the end of 2017 summer in order to detach non-signature data from the signature one of each operation. This was expected to decrease the operation sized preserved on a block.
So the changes to protocol took place, but not as fast as someone would like them to be. Though SegWit was implemented in August 2017, crypto-giants Coinbase and Bitfinex only introduced the alteration this year February. And the results were not long in coming – the transaction fees dropped.
The SegWit worked out because the crypto-community united around a common idea, which SegWit2X never experienced. That is what Satoshi was talking about.
Lightning Network Is The Future?
SegWit is good, but not enough. Thus, there has been developed a Lightning Network – a scalability problem solution that will be able to do what SegWit can but on a larger scope.
Simply speaking, this solution will permit users to open up numerous payment channels between themselves outside the BTC blockchain. The start and the end of the transaction will take place on the blockchain, but the middle part of it will be branched off onto the second layer.
This will allow bitcoin users to carry out a larger number of transactions at a faster time. Therefore, in over 100 years, when the existence of miners will depend on remittances, miners will be able to benefit more from transactions fairly.