Bitcoin will eventually be capped at 21,000,000 Bitcoins, but what happens to all the wallets that are lost? I'm sure thousands of BTC are already as good as destroyed. Even if there weren't millions of USD being printed consistently, they would still print not only new money to replace the old, but also to account for destroyed bills. Would replenishing the supply of lost currency be possible in Bitcoin?

  • 1
    Also related, answering the other part of the question: bitcoin.stackexchange.com/q/484/516 Mar 6 '13 at 3:48
  • could the block chain be used to reimburse people with lost wallets? could a future version of the block chain do this?
    – CQM
    Mar 6 '13 at 5:06

Bitcoins can be divided up infinitely. So if there was just one bitcoin left (the rest are lost) then there can still be a viable economy with fractions of bitoins.

Lost wallets are only a problem for the people who lost them, not for bitcoin. It would of course limit supply and push the the cost of bitcoins versus other currencies.

  • Each bitcoin can only be divided into 100,000,000 units. I suppose we could survive on one coin, but it's not infinitely divisible.
    – tkbx
    Mar 6 '13 at 4:22
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    @tkbx: It can be divided into 100,000,000 units today. That would change long before it became a problem. Mar 6 '13 at 7:21
  • @DavidSchwartz if they wanted to change that, couldn't they just change it so every bitcoin becomes 10?
    – tkbx
    Mar 6 '13 at 12:31
  • @tkbx: Yes, that would certainly be one way to do it. Mar 6 '13 at 12:32
  • @DavidSchwartz so if they were to do either of those, would the people who maintain it just have to release a client update with the change?
    – tkbx
    Mar 6 '13 at 12:38

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