Former Bitcoin lead developer and co-founder of the Bitcoin Foundation Gavin Andresen has made a few interesting predictions about Bitcoin’s possible long-term future.
Andresen predicts a BTC price of 6 million USD by 2061
Imagine: it is the year 2061. In a brief blog piece, Gavin Andresen predicts that the price of BTC will be 6 million USD by that time, which is equivalent to one million of today’s US-Dollars due to inflation, although he states that his predictions should of course be taken with a grain of salt:
Take this as a little piece of science fiction; the chances the future looks like this are small, but of all the possible futures I think this has as good a chance of any of happening.
Under this scenario, Andresen predicts that the price of a single on-chain transaction would amount to a whopping 7,500 USD. He states that this will not be a huge problem though, since nearly all transactions that occur on the Bitcoin blockchain are issued by institutional whales, such as centralized exchanges, central banks, and cross-chain bridges.
The latter are what his scenario is mainly based on. He predicts that most BTC transactions will be offloaded to faster and more modern blockchains thanks to bridges and token wrappers:
People moved their BTC either because they want faster transactions, lower fees, more privacy, or want to invest their BTC in decentralized financial stuff. Or maybe all of the above.
Heat Death hypothesis: the Bitcoin Blockchain will be turned off by 2100
Much like the ultimate fate of the universe, the ultimate fate of Bitcoin is subject to a fierce debate. Andresen presents us with an optimistic scenario, under which Bitcoin remains a major cryptocurrency, if not the leading one. Ultimately, the low mining rewards and high transaction fees by 2100 will become a problem, which means that miners and BTC whales will decide to shut the blockchain down.
One by one, they shutdown the “bridges” that move BTC between chains. Then they burn any BTC locked on the BTC chain by sending it to the 0x000… address, to make sure nobody can ever spend it on the BTC network. Eventually, there are zero new BTC being produced on the BTC network, and zero BTC circulating on the BTC network. There is nothing left to secure, and the chain stops.
Andresen predicts that the vast majority of all BTC in existence will be locked in bridges by that time. These wrapped BTC will live on through other blockchains.
Cold Death hypothesis: Bitcoin will start to fade away within 10 years
When Bitcoin’s problems with rising transaction fees and falling mining rewards will lead to an eventual shutdown of the Bitcoin blockchain, one might ask why Bitcoin should not be replaced by another cryptocurrency in the long run. Another possible fate of Bitcoin could be that it will eventually lose its status as the leading cryptocurrency in favor of a modern Proof of Stake blockchain.
At the moment, Bitcoin remains at the top of the food chain, but that may be mostly due to its first mover advantage and an avid base of Bitcoin maximalists. With its recent moves towards Proof of Stake, Ethereum may soon take over Bitcoin’s place as the leading cryptocurrency. DeVere CEO Nigel Green expects this to happen within the next five years, but the flippening might already be way closer.
Once that happens, there is no reason to stick to the Bitcoin standard for an ideal store of value anymore. The likely result is that Bitcoin will start to descend the market cap ranks even further once it loses the top spot.
We can already see that happening with Bitcoin’s chain splits, such as Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin, which once were among the leading altcoins. At the time of writing, they take ranks #17 and #18 on CoinMarketCap, followed by Wrapped Bitcoin on the Ethereum blockchain. Bitcoin SV, which was the #3 cryptocurrency by market cap at times, has seen the most significant decline over the past year, down to rank #54.
After Bitcoin and Ethereum, the CoinMarketCap ranking is now dominated by layer-1 Proof of Stake blockchains (Cardano, Binance Coin, Solana, Polkadot) and stablecoins (Tether, USD Coin, Binance USD).