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What happens to lost bitcoin?

Every year, millions of dollars worth of bitcoin and other digital assets are lost. In most circumstances, these coins cannot be retrieved and permanently exit the currency’s circulating supply. More often than not, lost coins can be traced back to user error, so let’s take a look at how to avoid costly mistakes.Where the missing coins goUnlike fiat currencies like the US dollar, Bitcoin was designed to have a limited supply. While more bank notes can always be printed by the Federal Reserve, new bitcoin cannot be issued once all 21 million coins have been mined.Lost and destroyed Bitcoin further shrinks the currency’s maximum supply. According to Cane Island Digital Research, 4% of available bitcoin is lost each year. Despite Bitcoin being designed with a limited supply of 21 million coins, Cane Island estimates that a maximum of only 14 million bitcoin will ever circulate due to the rate at which coins are lost.A report cited by the New York Times states that, of the 18.5 million bitcoin mined so far, an estimated 20 percent appear to be inaccessible or lost. At the time of the NYT report, the value of this inaccessible bitcoin was somewhere in the ballpark of $140 billion USD. Proponents theorize that lost coins only serve to increase the value of the remaining currency, as they increase Bitcoin’s scarcity.How can Bitcoin get lost, stolen, or destroyed?There are a few ways in which bitcoin can get lost or destroyed. The most common of these boil …
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