Who has the most Bitcoins? Hint: it isn’t Tesla
Who has the most Bitcoin? Data suggests institutions don’t own as much as you may think
The headlines have been dominated by the rise of institutional investors, with the likes of Tesla, MicroStrategy and countless funds gaining exposure to cryptocurrencies. But the answer to the question “Who has the most Bitcoins?” may surprise you.
Generally speaking, the holdings of big businesses pale in comparison with the holdings of early adopters in the space. There are two reasons for this. First, many institutions remain reluctant to gain exposure to a digital asset known for its volatility. And second, those with bulging balances likely started accruing crypto when a single Bitcoin was worth hundreds of dollars, rather than tens of thousands.
Here, we are going to delve into who has the most Bitcoin in the world – and reveal how much crypto you need to own to be in the top 1%.
Who owns the most Bitcoins?
At this point, it is worth bearing in mind that the maximum number of BTC that will ever exist is capped at 21 million. This supply is going to be gradually released between now and 2140 – and at the time of writing, more than 19 million of them are in circulation. The total number of Bitcoins on the open market is likely to be even less than this, with some estimates suggesting that about 20% of BTC have been lost forever since the asset launched.
Data from BitInfoCharts suggest that just four crypto addresses have a balance of between 100,000BTC and 1,000,000BTC – representing 3.54% of all the coins in existence. At the time of writing, these wallets had a staggering value of more than $14.9bn. We already know who these addresses belong to, though: they are the cold wallets of the Huobi, Binance and Bitfinex exchanges – BTC that is safely stored away from an internet connection.
Let’s move on to the next tier down. The number of wallets that hold between 10,000BTC and 100,000BTC stands at just 94 – and collectively, they are home to $49.7bn in wealth and 11.7% of the total Bitcoin supply.
The rest of Bitcoin’s ownership breaks down as follows:
- 2,133 addresses hold between 1,000 and 10,000 Bitcoin. Together, they hold almost 5.1 million BTC – 26.9% of total coins, with a cash value of almost $113bn.
- 13,686 addresses hold between 100 and 1,000 Bitcoin. Together, they hold 3.8 million BTC – 20.3% of total coins, with a cash value of almost $85.7bn.
- 131,621 addresses hold between 10 and 100 Bitcoin. Together, they hold almost 4.2 million BTC – 22.3% of total coins, with a cash value of $94.2bn.
About 19.4% of Bitcoin wealth is held in wallets that hold more than 1BTC – while just 4.38% store between 0.1BTC and 1BTC. When it comes to how many people own Bitcoin, figures vary but it is an estimated 106 million people globally, of which 400,000 are daily Bitcoin users.
But let’s look at this in monetary terms. When it comes to how many people (or addresses) own Bitcoin that is worth more than $100, that figure currently stands at almost 13.6 million. More than five million people own BTC with a value of above $1,000, decreasing to almost 1.4 million addresses who have stashed Bitcoin worth more than $10,000.
You will be one of 253,947 people if your crypto address has a cash value of $100,000. And, fascinatingly, there are 65,503 Bitcoin millionaires out there.
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Who owns Bitcoin – and why it matters
These statistics might seem rather abstract at first, but they tell an important story. Institutions are not leading the charge when it comes to Bitcoin’s ever-rising market cap, which comfortably surpassed $1trn in 2021.
Instead, it is down to consumers who have jumped on the crypto bandwagon for fear of missing out. This can be a high-risk strategy if you buy in at a high point – but then again, those who purchased BTC when it broke £5,000 for the first time in September 2017 will have seen their investment more than quadruple even at today’s prices.
Those who have the most Bitcoin may surprise you. At the top of the list is Satoshi Nakamoto, the cryptocurrency’s pseudonymous developer. Research suggests that he has a war chest of as much as 1.1 million BTC, which is likely spread across multiple wallets. Every now and then, we have seen Bitcoin mined in this era move between addresses – and this activity has tended to spook the crypto markets.
Law enforcement agencies also feature highly on this list. Bulgaria managed to seize 213,500BTC back in 2017 – before the cryptocurrency broke $20,000 for the first time. If it had held on to these coins, they would be worth a staggering $4.7bn at the time of writing.
Inevitably, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also gets a mention. The FBI managed to seize 144,000BTC when it shut down the Silk Road website back in 2013. Unfortunately, it ended up selling this crypto haul for an average price of $334 per coin – meaning it missed out on billions.
In terms of people who make the Bitcoin rich list, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss appear prominently. They became billionaires after settling a lawsuit with Mark Zuckerberg and spending $11m of the cash they received on BTC – buying 1.5 million coins at $120 apiece. Bitcoin’s price has since surged by 18,569.3%. Although they are unlikely to own all of this BTC in the current market, they are certainly sitting on a gold mine.
Price of Bitcoin
As for what happens next – with Bitcoin tanking to $22,403 as of 14 June 2022 – JPMorgan’s worry is that institutional interest might not be strong enough to propel the cryptocurrency higher.
Some analysts believe that we will soon see a supply squeeze in the Bitcoin markets, given how just 900 new BTC are mined on a daily basis. With the likes of Grayscale Investments buying the cryptocurrency faster than it can be mined, sustained demand could open the door to $100,000 and beyond.
But the length of the currrent crypto winter remains to be seen. Hold on to your seats.
Trade Bitcoin to US dollar – BTC/USD chart
Is Bitcoin a good investment?
It might be. Bitcoin has certainly reached new heights in 2021. That said, you do need to be cautious. Cryptocurrencies can be highly volatile and prices can definitely go down as well as up. You need to do your own research and never invest more than you can afford to lose.
How many Bitcoins are there?
When Satoshi Nakamoto was writing the whitepaper for the world’s first cryptocurrency back in the late noughties, he decided that BTC would have a hard cap of 21 million. However, the cryptocurrency’s unusual design means that the vast majority of Bitcoin that will ever exist – 90% of the total supply – is already in circulation.
How to get Bitcoin
BTC is available on Currency.com. Always remember to do your own research, however, and do not invest more than you can afford to lose.