Up to a quarter of all bitcoins ever mined seem to have been lost. According to a study, the amount of crypto currency in circulation is considerably smaller than previously thought. Once lost, bitcoin cannot be recovered.
The digital investigation company Chainalysis estimates that between 2.79 and 3.79 million bitcoins have been lost. These have not been stolen by hackers, but have been lost due to data loss, deletion and similar processes. Fortune writes that this accounts for 17 to 23 percent of the total bitcoin mined so far.
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For their study, the researchers observed both transactions and processed reports on lost bitcoin on the Internet. Bitcoin in particular, which have not been moved for a long time, are considered lost to a certain extent. Therefore, the study is only a rough estimate.
Chainalysis’s study also deals with the original Satoshi coins. One million bitcoins, which the mysterious inventor of the cryptocurrency generated himself, are considered lost for the researchers. Even if the person or group with the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto hasn’t reported publicly since 2011, the associated bitcoin could still exist – and would be worth several billion dollars at the moment. Even Elon Musk is always suspected of being Satoshi Nakamoto. A probable candidate, however, is the IT forensic scientist Dave Kleiman, who died in 2013 and may have taken his Bitcoin to his grave.
By 2040 at the latest, all possible bitcoins will have been created by miners – 21 million coins. In fact, however, they will not exist. In this respect, the researchers are right to assume that a certain percentage will be lost. And once lost, bitcoins have disappeared even more completely than gold bars at the bottom of the ocean.
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