A Wall Street Journal investigation and analysis suggested that users have misplaced a fifth of all Bitcoin. While this has not much in the way of ramifications for the technology, considering how it is designed to be deflationary and is divisible to a very low denomination, it has created a new industry of wallet hunters who aid clients in recovering lost funds.
Wallet Hunters and Their Diverse Methods
A cottage industry of experts, who aid clients recovering lost funds, has flourished. They charge a fee, ranging from 5 to 40% of the amount recovered, and employ a range of tools from the forensic investigation of hardware to brute force trialing of possible key combinations.
One of the more notable cases involved a man from the U.K. who lost what he claimed was approximately $100 million worth of Bitcoin in a hard drive that is supposedly in a landfill in Wales. He said he has the financial backing to undertake the massive job of excavating the landfill to find the hard drive. However, local authorities won’t allow it because of health concerns.
Not a Concern for the Rest of the World
While it is undoubtedly frustrating for the owners of the lost Bitcoin, this issue doesn’t have a much negative effect on the wider industry. Bitcoin is very divisible. An individual “Satoshi,” the smallest unit of Bitcoin, is one hundred millionth of a Bitcoin itself.
If the rate of loss of Bitcoin stays stable, it will still be a useful currency for very many years. There is actually more reason to believe that, as people become more educated on how to use Bitcoin, the rate of loss will reduce.
Furthermore, if in the distant future there was a need for more units, long after the last Bitcoin has been mined, there are many ways to safely amend the Bitcoin protocol to allow further subdivision.