According to the blockchain badysis company, Chainalysis, up to 23% of the Bitcoins currently in circulation can be lost forever. The study represents the first detailed effort to quantify the number of cryptocurrency units for which private keys have been forgotten for a long time.
Of course, it is impossible to say exactly how many Bitcoin are accumulated and how many will never really be recovered. For this reason, Chainalysis has placed a higher and lower estimate in the figure. The company believes that between 17 and 23% of the Bitcoin that have been extracted today have been lost. In terms of real BTC, these figures represent between 2.78 and 3.79 million.
These "lost" Bitcoin are mostly from the early days of technology, when each unit was worth it, instead of the $ 9,000 that they are today. Presumably, people like the man who paraded through the newspapers in 2013 for throwing a hard drive with 7,500 BTC would have been more attentive to their hiding places, if they had been worth what they are today.
While its precise methodology is a guarded secret, Chainalysis uses age and transaction metrics to determine which Bitcoin has not moved in a long time. They disaggregated their findings into five categories: bitcoin mined since the beginning of 2017, strategic investments, buy / sell, the original million Satoshi coins, and those that have not moved in the last two to seven years.
Chainalysis used its methodology to determine that no Bitcoin extracted in 2017 was lost, and of the BTC used for strategic investments and purchases / sales, only about 4% disappeared forever. Interestingly, the company believes that all original Satoshi coins were lost long ago, and that between 30 and 50% of those Bitcoins that did not move in the last two years also disappeared. The last statistic is the most difficult to measure. It is very difficult to determine which portfolios are owned by someone who plays a very long waiting game, and who are owned by people who have lost their private keys. However, events such as the August lining cause many long-term owners to move coins and, therefore, it can be determined that they are still in circulation.
The figures represent a genuine loss of BTC and never return to the economy. They ignore those that have been pirated or stolen. This is because these will eventually put it back into circulation, since the responsible thief can now control them.
The implications of the amount of lost coins are potentially huge for the Bitcoin price. Of course, the total supply is fixed and new currencies can not be minted above the 21 million limit. Bitcoin could be much more frightening than people currently give credit for. This would mean a much higher price in the long term if people continue to want to have BTC.
Kim Grauer, a senior economist at Chainalysis, had some thoughts on the implications of the increased shortage of Bitcoin and if the market had already quoted the currencies were gone forever. Fortune Report:
"This is a very complex question: on the one hand, direct calculations on market capitalization do not take into account lost currencies, taking into account how highly speculative this field is, market capitalization calculations They can become economic models of the market that impact the spending activity, however, the market has adapted to the real available supply and demand, it is enough to observe the behavior of change, and it is a well-known procedure of monetary policy to reduce or increase fiduciary reserves to impact exchange rates ".