Summary List PlacementBitcoin’s decentralized nature has been one of its biggest selling points, but imperfect storage methods have made millions of the tokens inaccessible.
About 20% of the 18.5 million bitcoin in existence — worth about $140 billion — is estimated to be lost or stuck in locked-off digital wallets, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
For now, those coins are effectively trapped behind incredibly complex encryption and forgotten passwords.
Solutions can still come from cryptocurrency reform, Jimmy Nguyen, president of the Bitcoin Association, told Business Insider.
Emergency mechanisms that can recover bitcoin in the event of forgotten wallet passwords or estate transfers can make it a more “open and user-friendly” cryptocurrency, Nguyen said.
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Cryptocurrency enthusiasts praise bitcoin’s decentralized nature. Yet the imperfect methods used to secure the digital tokens are pulling millions of bitcoin out of circulation with little hope of recovery.