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Bitcoin is limited, so mining is only profitable until all bitcoins have been mined right?

My friend asked me this question the other day as I was riding home with him and honestly I did not know the answer. But I thought about it more and realized the answer is, "not necessarily." First, it's best to know that Bitcoin has a capped supply just as gold has a capped supply. Although both assets will be mined for some time into the future, there is only so much that will ever be uncovered. Thereafter, the total pie cannot grow. However, the transaction units will continue to grow as needed because the pie is divisible into tiny units. There will eventually be 21 million BTC and each coin is divisible into 10^8 units. This yields 21 million times 100 million, or 21 trillion, exchangeable units. And, it can be divided further by consensus.

This then poses the question my friend asked, "What happens after all bitcoins have been mined?" While it is true that once all the bitcoins have been mined transaction fees will be the sole source of income for miners, miners have the opportunity to survive on transaction fees through monetary theory. The theory dictates that once there is a break between the supply of and demand for money (in this case cryptos), there will be a gradual decrease in the general price level. This equates to an equally steady and gradual increase in the purchasing power of money. As a result, as Bitcoin miners collect transaction fees over time, the funds gain value. This value appreciation over time turns fee-centric mining from a financially infeasible task into a smart, long-term investment.

Also, technology will likely change. It is possible that mining chips will become small and cheap enough that they can be installed on all electronic devices. Thus, evolving mining technology and the increase in Bitcoin's purchasing power may be able to keep mining profitable.

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