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In 2009it was 50. In 2013, it had been 25, at the time of writing it is 12.5, and sometime in the middle of 2020 it will halve to 6.25. .

At this speed of halving, the total number of bitcoin in circulation will approach a limit of 21 million, making the currency more scarce and precious over time but also more costly for miners to produce.

Here is the catch. In order to get bitcoin miners to really earn bitcoin from verifying transactions, two things have to occur. To begin with, they must verify 1 megabyte (MB) worth of transactions, which can theoretically be as little as 1 transaction but are more often a few thousand, depending on how much data each transaction stores.

Second, in order to add a block of transactions to the blockchain, miners should fix a intricate computational science difficulty, also called a"proof of work." What they're actually doing is trying to think of a 64-digit hexadecimal number, called a"hash," that's less than or equivalent to the hash.

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In other words, it's a gamble. .

The difficulty level of the most recent block at the time of writing is all about 7,184,404,942,701. In other words, the chance of a computer producing a hash below the goal is just 1 in 7,184,404,942,701 less than 1 in 7 trillion. That amount is adjusted every 2016 blocks, or roughly every 2 weeks, with the goal of keeping rates of mining constant.

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The opposite is also true. If computational power has been taken off of the network, the difficulty adjusts downward to make mining simpler. .

"Say I tell three friends that I'm thinking about a number between 1 and 100, and I write that number on a sheet of paper and seal it in an envelope. My friends don't have to guess the exact number, they simply must be the very first person to guess any number that's less than or equal to the number I am thinking of.

"Let's say I am thinking about the number 19. If Friend A guesses 21, they lose because 21>19. If Friend B supposes 16 and Friend C supposes 12, then they have both technically came at workable answers, because 16<19 and 12<19. There's no'extra credit' for Friend B, even though B's answer was closer to the goal answer of 19. .

"Now imagine that I present the'imagine what number I'm thinking of' question, however I'm not asking just three friends, and I am not thinking of a number between 1 and 100. Instead, I'm asking millions of would-be miners and I'm thinking about a 64-digit hexadecimal number. Now you see that it's going to be extremely difficult to guess the right answer." .

If 1 in 7 trillion doesn't sound hard enough as is, here is the catch to the catch. Not only do bitcoin miners need to think of the right hash, they also have to be the first to do it.

Since bitcoin mining is essentially guesswork, arriving at the right answer before another miner has everything to do with how fast your computer can produce hashes. Just a decade ago, bitcoin miners could be performed competitively on normal desktop computers. As time passes, however, miners realized that pictures cards commonly used for video games tend to be more effective at mining than desktops and graphics processing units (GPU) came to dominate the match.

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These can run from \$500 into the tens of thousands. .

Today, bitcoin mining is so aggressive that it can only be done profitably with the latest up-to-date ASICs. When using desktop computers, GPUs, or elderly versions of ASICs, the expense of energy consumption actually surpasses the revenue generated. Even with the newest unit at your disposal, one computer is rarely enough to compete with exactly what miners call"mining pools" .

An mining pool is a group of miners that combine their computing ability and divide the mined bitcoin between participants. A disproportionately high number of blocks are mined by pools rather than by individual miners. In July 2017, mining pools and companies represented roughly 80% to 90% of bitcoin computing power. .

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Between 1 in 7 trillion odds, scaling difficulty levels, and also the huge network of consumers verifying transactions, one block of transactions is verified roughly every 10 minutes. But its important to remember that 10 minutes is a target, not a guideline.

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The bitcoin network can process about seven transactions per second, with transactions being logged in click reference the blockchain every 10 minutes. Since the network of bitcoin users continues to grow, but the number of transactions made in 10 minutes will eventually exceed the number of transactions that can be processed in 10 minutes.