Who Owns The Most Bitcoins?

   2022-07-30 11:07

Who Owns The Most Bitcoins? Gold Bitcoin crypto currency on background of chart diagram.
Gold Bitcoin crypto currency on background of chart diagram. Photo: Parilov / Shutterstock.com

Bitcoin (BTC) is a pioneer of decentralised peer-to-peer payments and the largest cryptocurrency in the world valued at a market capitalisation of over $461 bn, as of 29 July 2022.

Bitcoin’s permissionless and censorship-resistant feature have drawn a multitude of early adopters to the cryptocurrency. 

The number of active BTC-holding addresses have shot up from about 1,000 in July 2010 to over 900,000 as of late-July 2022, according to data from blockchain research firm Glassnode.

Who are the largest holders of bitcoin and how high is the concentration of bitcoin whales? Here we take a look who owns the most bitcoins. 

About Bitcoin: Decentralised payments

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer electronic cash system that allows its holders to make online payments directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.

Bitcoin’s pseudonymous founder Satoshi Nakamoto released the Bitcoin whitepaper in October 2008. The first block on the Bitcoin network was mined in January 2009, which rewarded its miner with the first BTC.

New bitcoins are rewarded to miners who validate transactions and add the history of transactions to the public blockchain ledger. 

“We have proposed a system for electronic transactions without relying on trust,” read the Bitcoin whitepaper.

The market capitalisation of BTC was over $457bn at prices of nearly $24,000 on 29 July 2022. BTC’s market cap hit over $1.27tn at its peak in November 2021. In 2022, however, investor sentiment shifted, triggering a crypto winter, with BTC falling over 40%.

Tokenomics: Hard-capped 

Bitcoin has a hard cap, which means that only a certain number of bitcoins can ever be mined. The maximum supply of bitcoin is capped at 21 million. 

Furthermore, the emission rate of bitcoin is designed to reduce with time in a process known as halving. Halving events occur every 210,000 blocks, which is roughly every four years, upon which the mining rewards are cut into half. 

The most recent halving event occurred in May 2021 when mining rewards dropped from 12.5 BTC a block to 6.25 BTC a block. The next halving event is expected to occur in 2024 after which BTC emissions will drop to 3.125 BTC a block.

As of 29 July 2022, over 19.1 million BTC has been mined representing 91% of maximum BTC supply, according to CoinMarketCap. Less than two million bitcoins are left to be mined. The last bitcoin is expected to be mined in the year 2140.

Who owns the most bitcoins?

According to bitcoin-focused asset manager River Financial, Satoshi Nakamoto, the anonymous inventor of Bitcoin, is estimated to be the biggest bitcoin holder in possession of over one million BTC stored in roughly 22,00 addresses. 

None of Nakamoto’s estimated BTC holdings have been moved besides a few test transactions, according to River Financial.

Looking at wallet address data compiled by BitInfoChart, the top holders of bitcoin were identified to be addresses linked to cryptocurrency exchanges Binance (BNB) and BitFinex.

The Binance wallet was the single richest address with 252,597 bitcoins worth over $6bn and representing 1.3% of the circulating BTC supply. The BitFinex wallet held about 0.9% of BTC’s current circulating supply, as of 29 July 2022.

The third wealthiest bitcoin address holding 131,883 BTC on 29 July 2022 remained anonymous. It should be noted that while blockchain data is transparent and wallet balances are viewable to the public, the identity of a wallet address holder remains anonymous unless voluntarily disclosed.

There were multiple wallet addresses identified as those of crypto exchange on BitInfoChart’s bitcoin address list. Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange in terms of trading volume, had three wallets on the list.

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“Determining the concentration of ownership is more complicated than just tracking the holdings of the richest addresses, since many of the largest addresses belong to cold wallets of exchanges and online wallets, which hold Bitcoin on behalf of many investors,” said the National Bureau Of Economic Research in a research report.

Several corporations have accumulated BTC over the years. US-based software company MicroStrategy (MSTR) is the world’s biggest publicly traded corporate owner of bitcoin with holdings of about 129,218 BTC, according to its Q1 2022 earnings report. MicroStrategy’s BTC holdings were worth over $3bn, as of 22 July 2022.

Tesla (TSLA) is also known to be a holder of bitcoin. However, the company announced on 20 July 2022 that it had sold 75% of its bitcoin holdings by the end of the second quarter of 2022. 

The electric car maker did not disclose the amount of bitcoin it held. The company reported “digital assets” worth $218m, as of 30 June 2022, on its balance sheet, down from $1.26bn held on 31 March 2022.

Meanwhile, the total number of bitcoins held by early BTC adopter El Salvador was about 2,301, as of 15 June 2022, according to news agency Fortune.

Conclusion: Less concentration than other cryptos

For retail bitcoin holders, it might be useful to know who has the most bitcoins as wallets holding large quantities of BTC can have significant influence over its price.

“From a public policy perspective, it is important to understand the ownership and concentration of Bitcoin holdings since it determines who is positioned to benefit most from any price appreciation,” said the National Bureau Of Economic Research.

These wallet addresses belonging to individuals or organisations are known as whale addresses and the holder is known as a whale. 

Who are bitcoin whales? According to Binance Academy, a BTC whale should hold at least 1,000 BTC. There were 2,151 addresses holding more than 1,000 BTC each, as of 29 July 2022, data from blockchain research firm Messari showed.

It should be noted that BTC is more evenly distributed than other cryptocurrencies. According to crypto analytics site IntoTheBlock, BTC’s concentration among large holders stood at 10% of its circulating supply. 

In comparison, smart contract leader ETH’s concentration among large holders stood at 41%. Ethereum sidechain Polygon’s MATIC had a large holder concentration of 86%. Memecoin DOGE  had a 65% concentration of large holders, as of 29 July 2022.

The absence of venture capitalists, seed investors and initial coin offering, which is very common in the cryptocurrency sector today, has helped BTC maintain a low concentration of large holders.

However, the National Bureau Of Economic Research noted that the Bitcoin ecosystem “is still dominated by large and concentrated players, be it large miners, Bitcoin holders or exchanges”. 

“This inherent concentration makes Bitcoin susceptible to systemic risk and also implies that the majority of the gains from further adoption are likely to fall disproportionately to a small set of participants,” the report added.

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How many bitcoin holders are there?

The number of active BTC-holding addresses have shot up from about 1,000 in July 2010 to over 900,000 as of late-July 2022, according to data from blockchain research firm Glassnode.

How many bitcoin millionaires are there?

Data from Messari showed about 67,443 wallet addresses held BTC worth over $1m each, as of 29 July 2022. At the current BTC price of about $24,000, you would need over 41 BTC to become a bitcoin millionaire.

What is the total supply of bitcoin?

Bitcoin has a hard cap which means that only a certain number of bitcoins can ever be mined. The maximum supply of bitcoin is capped at 21 million. As of 29 July 2022, over 19.1 million BTC has been mined representing 91% of maximum BTC supply.

Further reading:

Bitcoin Technical Chart in a Futuristic Concept
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Original Source

CryptoCurrencyUSDChange 1hChange 24hChange 7d
Bitcoin19,218 0.10 % 0.36 % 1.47 %
Ethereum1,296.2 0.12 % 1.37 % 1.66 %
Tether1.001 0.06 % 0.09 % 0.00 %
USD Coin1.001 0.02 % 0.11 % 0.08 %
BNB284.56 0.47 % 2.10 % 3.31 %
XRP0.4606 0.06 % 3.29 % 5.92 %
Binance USD1.001 0.06 % 0.07 % 0.02 %
Cardano0.4262 0.08 % 1.23 % 5.88 %
Solana32.53 0.02 % 0.56 % 2.90 %
Dogecoin0.06004 0.05 % 0.98 % 5.26 %
Polkadot6.270 0.06 % 0.06 % 0.20 %
Shiba Inu0.00001114 0.24 % 0.16 % 0.98 %
Dai1.001 0.03 % 0.29 % 0.12 %
Polygon0.7755 0.03 % 1.37 % 2.75 %
TRON0.06161 0.09 % 2.14 % 2.84 %
Lido Staked Ether1,293.6 0.18 % 1.37 % 1.33 %
Avalanche16.79 0.06 % 1.37 % 4.77 %
Uniswap6.240 0.10 % 3.78 % 7.71 %
Wrapped Bitcoin19,219 0.03 % 0.37 % 1.40 %
? --- 0.00 % 0.00 %