Bitcoin’s algorithmically-induced scarcity has already generated skyrocketing prices for the cryptocurrency. But the biggest spike in price may be reserved for the last bitcoin ever mined. And that is what is playing on the mind of tech mogul John McAfee.

“Thousands of miners spending, in some cases, millions of dollars each to find it (the last bitcoin). Can the value be less than the effort? The value would have to be hundreds of millions,” he wondered in a tweet. (See also: What Happens To Bitcoin After All 21 Million Are Mined?)

Reddit Responses

A Reddit discussion has some interesting responses to McAfee’s musings. For example, one user stated that the last bitcoin will never be mined because the reward for mining bitcoin by then will be close to zero. Others wondered about the utility of pondering over this question currently, especially since the event is far into the future. According to most estimates, it is expected to occur sometime in 2140. But that estimate assumes the provisioning of hash power, or systems to mine bitcoin, at a constant rate and an algorithmic difficulty that remains constant. Both these factors are subject to change. (See also: Bitcoin Mining)

Bitcoin is scheduled to hit the 20.5 million mark by 2030. Considering that there will only ever be 21 million bitcoin in existence, this means that it will take approximately 110 years for the next 500,000 coins to be mined. “Considering how many BTC will be lost at that point and how distributed the economy should be, 500k more coins to mine will be a lot of coins,” one user wrote. 

Bitcoin’s mining schedule is based on an algorithm that rewards miners with bitcoins after they solve complex cryptographic puzzles, thereby verifying the transaction history of the block, and adding it to the chain of blocks, all holding a piece of the chain's transaction history. The reward halves every four years. For example, the initial reward consisted of 50 bitcoins. Subsequently it was 25 coins and, currently, it is 12.5 coins. It is expected to drop to 6.25 coins by 2020.

Investing in cryptocurrencies and other Initial Coin Offerings ("ICOs") is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or other ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author owns small amounts of bitcoin and litecoin.