Bitcoin price prediction 2140: what will BTC be worth when mining ends?

How much will the last bitcoin be worth when it is minted? The answer may surprise you

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In the world of cryptocurrency, no name looms as large as that of bitcoin. It is, pretty much, the original crypto. The plan has always been for there to be 21 million BTC in existence and, once the full 21 million bitcoins are minted, that will be it. So what happens then? And how much will each bitcoin be worth?

As things stand, the last bitcoin should come into circulation in 2140, that is, 118 years from now. This raises several questions. What happens when all bitcoins have been mined? What implications will that have for the world of cryptocurrency and the blockchain? And can we make a bitcoin price prediction for 2140?

A coin of more than two halves

The rate at which bitcoin is mined is not constant throughout time. In order to reduce the rate at which new BTCs are given out, the cryptocurrency was designed to undergo “halving events” roughly every four years that would reduce the number of bitcoin tokens released into circulation by half, thus limiting their supply and making the crypto rarer, increasing its value. The last bitcoin halving event, which saw the rewards per block drop to 6.25 BTC, took place in 2020, so we should see another one in 2024, This is why, despite there being more than 19 million bitcoin in circulation as of 25 May 2022, BTC minting will continue for more than a century.

A greener future for crypto?

If nothing else happens in the meantiome – and a lot will happen between now and 2140 –  once the last bitcoin is mined, cryptocurrency could get a lot greener. At the time of writing (25 May 2022), BTC uses 114.8 terawatts of power a year, more than the entire energy annual consumption of the Netherlands, according to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index. A big part of the reason for this is that, in order to mine bitcoin, people need to use computers to solve increasingly complex mathematical equations. This system, called proof-of-work (PoW), is very energy intensive. While other cryptos use proof-of-work, bitcoin is the biggest, so has taken most of the flak for crypto’s energy use. Once the last coin is mined, then this means that the need for energy-intensive bitcoin mining will cease which means, at least in theory, that bitcoin will no longer be as bad for the environment as is claimed.

BTC is, of course, not the only significant cryptocurrency to use PoW. Its closest rival, ETH, also uses what we might call traditional crypto mining to add new blocks to the blockchain and mint new coins. Hiowever, Ethereum has been moving towards changing its consensus mechanism to proof-of-stake (PoS), meaning that people will be able to add new blocks to the blockchain and mint new coins based on how much crypto they already have. This should, if and when it finally happens, mean that Ethereum becomes substantially more environmentally-friendly.

While there are no plans for bitcoin to change its consensus mechanism, partially because the Bitcoin blockchain would not benefit from other changes brought about by a transfer to PoS, we cannot say that it will not happen at some point in the next 118 years or so. Nevertheless, a positive environmental impact is one of the things that could happen as a result of the final BTC being mined.  In addition, there could be a worldwide transition to renewable, sustainable and ecologically sound forms of energy by then, which could make the end of bitcoin mining a non-event, as far as the environment goes. Likewise, China’s recent bans on crypto mining might suggest that, if other countries follow suit, it will become more of an illegal activity, so it could be that bitcoin mining will have all but stopped by then, leaving a small stash of coins in limbo.

What will happen after all bitcoins are mined?

Bitcoin
Bitcoin might run out one day. What then? - Photo: Shutterstock

When the last bitcoin is mined, miners will no longer be able to profit from mining. This might seem like an obvious point to make, but people who had been miners would still have the possibility to make money. This will all depend on how, and what, bitcoin is used for. While there are places to spend your crypto as of May 2022, the majority of the time, BTC is used as a store of value. This means that many BTC holders will, at least in theory, use the coin to make a profit, selling or trading it when the price rises to a certain level. If the majority of bitcoin holders still use the crypto as a store of value in 2140, then that would mean that miners could, theoretically, charge fees for ensuring that transactions are carried out, and thus earn money. However, that would depend on it being profitable to do so. If not, then anything could happen. We could see miners just giving up, or else forming de facto cartels which would rise prices in a way that was not necessarily reflective of the market.

How many bitcoin will there be, really?

Just because 21 million bitcoin will have been mined by 2140, that does not mean that 21 million bitcoin will be in circulation. Some of the coins will have been burned by then. It is probable that people who hold bitcoin in secure wallets will have died before giving the wallet details to other people, meaning that those coins will be unavailable for access and use. A report in 2020 from the analytics firm Chainalysis found that as much as 20% of bitcoin could be considered to fall into this category.

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Bitcoin price forecast for 2140

So what about bitcoin price predictions for 2140?. The problems here are manifold. First, few people make bitcoin price forecasts for that far into the future. Second, the nature of crypto means that it is incredibly volatile. For instance, at the time of writing, bitcoin was worth less than half what it had been six months or so earlier, but at that point it was worth more than twice what it had been about four months earlier. So, by extension, that means what might look like a locked in prediction one day could look ridiculously optimistic or unnecessarily pessimistic the next day. Keep in mind, too, that these are going to be very long-term crypto price predictions.

Since we do not know what could happen from day to day, the likelihood of them being inaccurate increases the further into the future we go, and 118 years is a long time. Finally, there is every possibility that the forecasts are being made, not by experts, but by overenthusiastic crypto investors who will probably want to see massive things for bitcoin’s future. 

That all said, there are a couple of forecasts we can look at. First, in 2020, when BTC was worth around $8,880, the Bitcoinist website foretold that bitcoin could be worth anything between $17.14m and $21.1m by the time the last coin is mined. Meanwhile, AltCoinBuzz argued, at about the same time, that predictions made by the late computer scientist and early Bitcoin enthusiast Hal Finney indicated that the price in 2140 could be anywhere between $10m and $18m.

If those figures sound outlandishly huge, even $21m represents compound annual growth over the next 118 years of just 5.7% from today’s bitcoin value of $30,000 or so. Since its launch in 2010, when, at the end of its first month, one bitcoin was worth $0.08, the cryptocurrency has actually grown at a compound annual rate of a fantastic 190%. If you had held $10 in bitcoin in August 2010, that would have turned into $3.75m today. So for one bitcoin to be worth $21m by 2140 would actually represent a sharp slowdown in bitcoin's growth.

Final thoughts

It is worth reiterating, though, that forecasts can be very wrong, and the likelihood of them being inaccurate only grows throughout time. There is a reason why it can be hard to find a bitcoin price prediction for 2040 ($81,000 at 5.7% annual growth, $6.6trn at 190%, if you are interested) let alone a BTC price prediction for 2140, and that is because as time goes on, factors that people may not have even considered come into the mix.

If you want to know what bitcoin will be worth in 2140, then it has hard to say whether or not the predictions that have been made will hold true, not least because the forecasters of today will no longer be around when the last bitcoin is minted. In terms of what else will happen, again, we have some idea, but we do not know for certain. It will all depend on whether cryptocurrency can continue to grow or not, and remember that it might be the case that crypto will wither away by 2140. As ever, we shall have to wait and see. If – and this really is unlikely – we live that long. 

FAQs

It will be 118 years until the last bitcoin is mined. Mining is set to end in 2140.

As of the afternoon of 25 May 2022, there had been 19,049,043.75 BTC mined. 

To be honest, we don't know. While there are some ideas of what might happen, the truth is that it is so far in the future that all we have are, ultimately, educated guesses. 

Further reading

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