Why Are Bitcoins Limited to 21 million? An Easy Explanation

June 18, 2023

One of Bitcoin’s defining characteristics is the limit on its total supply, set at 21 million bitcoins. This article will discuss the genesis block and the 21 million limit of Bitcoin and some challenges and alternatives. The supply of BTC is limited, so make sure you hold some in your portfolio before it’s too late. Start now with Granimator and start trading!

The Genesis Block and the 21 million Limit

The Genesis Block holds an important place in the history of Bitcoin. It is the very first block of the blockchain, marking the birth of the cryptocurrency. Created by the mysterious individual or group known as Satoshi Nakamoto, the Genesis Block was mined on January 3, 2009. Embedded within this block is a message, a headline from The Times newspaper, referencing the financial crisis: “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on the brink of second bailout for banks.”

Satoshi Nakamoto made a deliberate decision to set a limit on the total supply of bitcoins. This limit was set at 21 million coins, which holds mathematical and symbolic significance. By establishing an upper cap on the supply, Bitcoin differentiates itself from traditional fiat currencies that can be subject to inflationary policies.

The rationale behind choosing 21 million as the limit is not explicitly stated in Nakamoto’s white paper or subsequent communications. However, it is widely believed that the number was chosen to align with the principles of scarcity and provide a sense of value to the cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin’s limited supply is a deliberate design feature introducing scarcity into the ecosystem. Scarcity is a fundamental economic concept that underlies the value of any asset. By creating a limited supply of bitcoins, Nakamoto aimed to replicate the scarcity of precious metals like gold, which have traditionally served as stores of value.

The concept of a finite supply also addresses concerns about potential hyperinflation. With traditional fiat currencies, central banks have the power to print unlimited amounts of money, decreasing purchasing power over time. Bitcoin’s capped supply ensures that it remains immune to such inflationary pressures.

Approximately 18.7 million bitcoins have been mined, leaving around 2.3 million yet to be generated. The mining process is designed to gradually decrease the supply rate, with rewards halving approximately every four years. This controlled release schedule ensures a gradual approach toward the 21 million limit, creating a predictable and manageable supply curve.

Potential Challenges and Alternatives

The 21 million limits on Bitcoin’s supply have sparked debates and discussions regarding its potential challenges and alternatives. While Bitcoin’s limited supply is a fundamental aspect of its design, some concerns have been raised about its long-term sustainability and usability as a global currency.

One of the primary concerns is the potential for a shortage of bitcoins in the future. As the demand for Bitcoin grows and adoption increases, there might be a scenario where the limited supply cannot meet the needs of a global economy.

Another challenge lies in the potential for lost or inaccessible bitcoins. Since Bitcoin transactions are irreversible, any coins lost due to forgotten passwords, hardware failures, or other reasons become permanently inaccessible.

Furthermore, critics argue that the 21 million limits might hinder Bitcoin’s potential as a medium of exchange. With a limited supply and potentially high prices, it could become impractical for everyday transactions. Critics suggest that a more flexible supply, adjusted to accommodate the needs of a growing economy, could be a viable alternative.

Alternative cryptocurrencies, often called altcoins, have emerged as potential alternatives to Bitcoin. These cryptocurrencies offer different supply dynamics, including uncapped or dynamically adjusted supplies. Some altcoins aim to address Bitcoin’s limited supply’s scalability and usability concerns, while others experiment with new consensus mechanisms and economic models.

Other alternative cryptocurrencies like Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, or Ripple have unique supply dynamics and value propositions. These alternatives address specific challenges or offer different features, including faster transaction times, lower fees, or enhanced privacy.

While alternative cryptocurrencies offer different approaches to the supply issue, they also come with their own challenges and considerations. Evaluating the pros and cons of these alternatives requires a comprehensive understanding of their underlying technology, governance models, and overall ecosystem.


The 21 million limits on Bitcoin’s supply are a fundamental pillar of its design. This deliberate scarcity distinguishes Bitcoin from traditional fiat currencies and contributes to its store of the value proposition. While challenges and alternative approaches exist, Bitcoin’s limited supply has become a defining characteristic that shapes its ecosystem and investment potential. As the world continues to embrace cryptocurrencies, the significance of Bitcoin’s 21 million caps will remain a subject of exploration.


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