Who owns the most bitcoins?

Who owns the most bitcoins?
Who owns the most bitcoins?

Who owns the most bitcoins?  Gold Bitcoin cryptocurrency on chart diagram background.
Gold Bitcoin cryptocurrency on chart diagram background. Photo: Parilov / Shutterstock.com

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

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

The number of active BTC holding addresses has increased from around 1,000 in July 2010 to over 900,000 by the end of July 2022, according to data from the blockchain research firm Glass node.

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

About Bitcoin: Decentralized 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, rewarding the miner with the first BTC.

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

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

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

Tokenomics: Hardcover

Bitcoin has a hard cap, which means that only a certain number of bitcoins can ever be mined. Maximum access to bitcoin is limited to 21 million.

Furthermore, the emission rate of bitcoin is designed to decrease over time in a process known as halving. Halving events occur every 210,000 blocks, which is roughly every four years, at which point mining rewards are halved.

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The last halving event occurred in May 2021 when mining rewards dropped from 12.5 BTC per block to 6.25 BTC per block. The next halving event is expected to occur in 2024, after which BTC emissions will drop to 3,125 BTC per block.

As of July 29, 2022, over 19.1 million BTC have been mined, representing 91% of the 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 largest bitcoin holder in possession of over one million BTC stored in approximately 22,00 addresses.

None of Nakamoto’s estimated BTC holdings have been moved besides some 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 richest address with 252,597 bitcoins worth over $6 billion and represented 1.3% of the circulating BTC supply. The BitFinex wallet held about 0.9% of BTC’s current circulating supply, as of July 29, 2022.

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

There were several wallet addresses identified as those for crypto exchanges 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 simply 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,” the National Bureau of Economic Research said in a research report.

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

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Tesla (TSLA) is also known to be a holder of bitcoin. However, on July 20, 2022, the company announced 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 how much bitcoin it had. The company reported “digital assets” worth $218 million, as of June 30, 2022, on its balance sheet, down from $1.26 billion held as of March 31, 2022.

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

Conclusion: Less concentration than other cryptos

For retail bitcoin holders, it can be useful to know who has the most bitcoins, as wallets containing large amounts of BTC can have a significant influence on the price.

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

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

Who are bitcoin whales? In accordance Binance Academy, a BTC whale should contain at least 1000 BTC. There were 2,151 addresses with more than 1,000 BTC each, as of July 29, 2022, data from the blockchain research firm Messari knew.

It should be noted that BTC is more evenly distributed than other cryptocurrencies. According to the cryptanalysis website IntoTheBlockBTC’s concentration among large holders was 10% of the circulating supply.

By comparison, smart contract manager ETH’s concentration among large owners was 41%. Ethereum sidechain Polygons MATIC had a large holder concentration of 86%. Memecoin DOGE had a 65% concentration of large owners as of July 29, 2022.

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

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

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

Note that all trading involves the risk of loss. Always do your own due diligence before trading, looking at the latest news, fundamental and technical analysis and analyst commentary. Remember that your decision to trade should depend on your risk tolerance, account size and trading strategy, and your experience in the markets. Never trade money you can’t afford to lose.

Common questions

How many bitcoin holders are there?

The number of active BTC holding addresses has increased from around 1,000 in July 2010 to over 900,000 by the end of July 2022, according to data from the blockchain research firm Glass node.

How many bitcoin millionaires are there?

Data from Messari showed around 67,443 wallet addresses held over $1 million worth of BTC each, as of July 29, 2022. With the current BTC price around $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. Maximum access to bitcoin is limited to 21 million. As of July 29, 2022, over 19.1 million BTC have been mined representing 91% of the maximum BTC supply.

Further reading:

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