There are 21 million bitcoins on Earth. Each of them may be divisible up to the eighth decimal place.
Losses and theft
A part has already been lost. It is difficult to say exactly how much. There are regular massive theft of bitcoins, here are some examples of incidents:
– in November 2013: loss of 7,500 bitcoins by an individual, or US $1.69 million.
– February 24, 2014: 744,400 bitcoins stolen, or US $250 million at Mt Gox,
– January 5, 2015: 18,800 bitcoins stolen, or US $5.5 million at Bitstamp,
– in May 2015: 1,450 stolen bitcoins, or US $344,000 at Bitfinex,
– September 11, 2015: 10,400 bitcoins diverted, or US $2.5 million at Mt Gox,
– in May 2016: 250 bitcoins stolen, or US $113,900 at Gatecoin,
– August 3, 2016: 119,750 bitcoins stolen, or US $70 million at Bitfinex.
It is estimated that 3.8 million bitcoins would have disappeared in the nature. And could be permanently lost. That’s US $38 billion!
Quantity really limited?
Just like gold, the amount of bitcoins is limited. We can even say that for gold we know we will still find some on Earth or somewhere else in the galaxy/universe, while for bitcoins there is little chance. Unless the system is skewed and the encryption is broken.
However, Bitcoin has created emulators. It even split in two with the creation of Bitcoin Cash. It can be said today that Bitcoin has several dozens of clones. It is not the same denomination but the same nature, the same type of cryptocurrency. Over time, the number of virtual currencies that have reached the same quality of encryption will be significant. The final price of Bitcoin will then be gnawed by an exodus of some of the holders towards values with higher potential.
We can imagine that the price of Bitcoin will reach several hundreds of thousands of dollars and then stagnate and deteriorate gradually with the expansion of other encrypted currencies.