Weiss, a ratings agency known for making controversial cryprocurrency posts on social media, claims that there are more than 21 million BTC in the world. Weiss claimed in a tweet that cryptocurrency exchanges use leverage to give the impression that there are more Bitcoins than those that actually exist.
The post, which attracted support and critic in both measure appeared to be more critical of popular exchange models. The firm does not consider the element of trust that most popular custodial exchanges use. Although there have been a lot of mass outflows from these custodial exchanges, they are still more popular, and information from the exchanges is sort out more by market enthusiasts.
Weiss therefore, advised people that the only protection they have against issues from custodial exchanges is to hold their own crypto. Those without access to their keys cannot be certain of their ownership of crypto.
Currently, the actual verified number of mined Bitcoins is 18.3 million, but not all are in circulation. It is also estimated that around 4 million BTC have been lost irretrievable.
People can lose their BTC through a number of different ways. For example, loss of private keys and private devices has been one of the major ways that holders have lost their BTC. Without private keys, it is not possible to access coins, hence one cannot transfer to a different address or trade.
One of the most popular cases is that of James Howells, a British IT worker who moved into BTC mining between 2009 and 2013. Between this period, he mined 7500 BTC but sold the laptop used to mine the coins, but kept the hard drive in case the keys became useful. He however, accidentally threw away the hard drive during a cleanout and has since been unable to access it from the landfill. At Bitcoin’s peak, the coins in the hard drive would have been worth more than $146 million.
Support for 21 Million BTC
The high number of irretrievable Bitcoins coupled with mined and unmined Bitcoins can contribute to the idea that Weiss is claiming. However, there is no exact confirmation on the number of lost BTC, which could be used to support this narrative. According to Satoshi Bitcoin whitepaper and code, there are only 21 million BTC in circulation, and there cannot be more. The scarcity of BTC is also one of the factors that contribute to its price and adoption. Users know there are no private owners who can change the rules at any time without their consent affecting the value.
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