Bitcoin Celebrates its 20th Birthday with a New High
Wednesday, January 3rd, 2029
It is the year 2029, and Bitcoin is finally no longer a teenager. The price has reached another new high of $420,000, climbing in a surprisingly stable fashion since the 2020 halving. Bitcoin’s market cap exceeds that of gold, and almost 10% of the World’s 6 billion adults are now actively using and buying Bitcoin on a regular basis. There has been huge growth in developing markets thanks to online microtransactions on Bitcoin’s 2nd, 3rd and experimental 4th layer.
We are in Bitcoin’s 6th reward era, and only 225 bitcoins are being mined per day, meaning that miners are only making the equivalent of $80 million per day in rewards (almost $30bn per year). The ecosystem is healthy though, with blocks on the layer 1 chain being full 24/7. This results in the equivalent of $20 million in daily fees ($7.5bn/yr) for critical, high value, layer 1 transactions. Transactions on the 2nd, 3rd, and experimental 4th layer number in the trillions per year, thanks to online & IoT device micropayments — but the true quantity is impossible to know due to inherent privacy controls.
The entire layer 1 blockchain is only 700 gigs — so anyone can carry around a hardware wallet full node on their keychain with a RasPi nano set-up. Most device makers generally ship their mid-range and flagship models with a full node with an up to date blockchain — so a 2nd device on your keychain won’t be needed for most. Regardless, don’t trust, verify, and download a fresh copy, even if it’s a painful few hour sync on your 5G data plan.
So. $420,000. How did price get this high?
The May 2020 halving breathed life back into bitcoin after the $3000 post-2017-bubble lows, with Christmas 2020 seeing a price of $10,000. People who were new to Bitcoin began to hear about it again, and having now learned from history, took a slow and steady approach. A new movement was beginning to brew. Bitcoin had finally won “the battle of hearts”, and by the end of 2021, many were seeing the economic justice that Bitcoin could deliver to the 3rd world through microtransactions on Bitcoin’s 2nd layer. People were starting to realise that social justice could only be won through economic justice, and economic justice could only be won through Bitcoin, and not by politicians and centralised legacy systems and frameworks. “The many” came together, and it was beautiful.
From there, the relatively (very) wealthy people of the West started to see Bitcoin as both a charity and a savings mechanism, whereby merely making weekly purchases of Bitcoin and saving would provide price stability to merchants, those in the third world, and anyone else participating on the network. Back then, you could literally become rich while helping the poor build unconfiscatable, uninflatable wealth. The truly passionate Bitcoin believers considered this purchase a “tithe”, religiously saving 1–10% of their weekly income in Bitcoin. They deemed the payment necessary to enable the furthering of Bitcoin’s impact, and they proved to be correct with the benefit of hindsight. Their sacrifices and faith were greatly rewarded however.
With millions of people saving an average of $5 per day in Bitcoin, the price then found a hard floor, which started to tilt upwards as more people looked to tithing Bitcoin as a means to have greater social & economic impact. With the price now stable enough for online merchants to accept and hold bitcoin, there was no turning back. More than half a decade on, there are now tens of millions saving an average of $5 per day.
Although the capacity of the lightning network back in 2022 was only around $100 million across 20,000 nodes in 100,000 channels, it was more than enough to start bootstrapping these circular microeconomies. Since people didn’t have to rush to fiat, and were incentivised by both steady capital growth alongside benefits of privacy, fraud & charge back protection, major fee savings, they were happy to offer discounts for Bitcoin and Lightning payments. This further encouraged people to regularly save in Bitcoin and use it to purchase from merchants and content creators, closing up the loop. The loop was further supported through the sacrifices and faith of The Tithers. We have since passed one million lightning nodes, with the lightning network now having a capacity of $50 billion, easily enough to facilitate all of the world’s transactions below $1,000. The cost of a keyring sized USB hardware wallet node is now only $50, so it’ll get even quicker, more reliable and more decentralized in the future.
The plummeting cost of renewable energy has meant that the industrial bitcoin mining sector, which comprises about 70% of the bitcoin hash rate, split amongst 10 major mining pools, is running on 100% renewable power — not because it is the right moral choice, but the right economic one. The other 30% of hash power comes from the world’s 100+ billion smart and IoT devices all contributing hashing power through micro-mining, since it became possible to apportion rewards in the thousands and millionths of cents since 2022 via Lightning mining pools. All of that said, bitcoin mining now chews through roughly 1% of the world’s entire energy supply. Since Bitcoin is effectively monetised energy, you could theoretically value the sum of the World’s energy, or monetised wealth, at $800 trillion (i.e. $8trn market cap divided by 1%) — which doesn’t seem too crazy in 2029.
Happy 20th birthday Bitcoin — your resilience and impact have proven to be tremendous. It turns out the BIS’s fears about the collapse of Proof of Work and mining reward incentives should have been aimed at moral citizens choosing to simply opt out of their legacy system at very little cost or effort.