Who has the most Ethereum?

Holders include smart contract addresses, centralised exchanges and founders, with one surprise

Contents

To all those whose answer to the question “Who has the most Ethereum?” is “Vitalik Buterin”, wrong! While the mastermind behind the second-largest cryptocurrency in existence is a common response to the question of who has the most Ethereum in the world, the true answer yields some surprises.

Looking into the biggest movers and shakers in ether, to determine who the whales with the biggest bags of ETH are, and breaking down the top holders to find out how many people own Ethereum in comparison to bitcoin, uncovers some fascinating stats.

How much does Vitalik own?

Vitalik Buterin, the Russian-Canadian founder and visionary behind the game-changing Ethereum network, made his Ethereum wallet public knowledge via Twitter in October 2018.

After two transfers of 325,000 ETH combined in May 2021, Buterin moved the majority of his wallet’s contents to a new address, called Vb 3, where his supply currently remains. His original wallet retains a small bag of 53 ETH – still worth a fairly healthy sum of $147,319. Buterin’s Vb 2 wallet holds a further 142 ETH.

ETH’s current trading value of $2,720 puts Buterin’s ETH holdings at around $884.5m – they were worth significantly over $1bn, however, during 2021’s healthier market.

Graph of Vitalik Buterin’s ETH holding
Buterin’s ETH value exceeded $1.5bn in November 2021 – Photo: Etherscan.io

While it is no small sum, Buterin is, in fact, not even in the top 20 holders of ETH.

So, who does own the most Ethereum?

A more realistic question is: “What owns the most Ethereum?” With a balance of 9.5 million ETH ($26.86bn), the largest address is the Eth2 Deposit Contract – the staking contract for Ethereum’s 2.0 upgrade, due to occur some time in 2022. Since this is a smart contract address, no single individual is able to access the funds, which will be returned to users post migration.

The second-largest holder is also a smart contract: Wrapped Ether, which holds 7.46 million ETH ($20.3bn). Wrapped Ether (WETH) is a protocol designed to convert ETH to the ERC20 standard in order to make the coin usable on Ethereum-based DApps (decentralised applications).

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The Kraken centralised exchange (CEX) comes in at number three, with 2.11 million ETH ($5.75bn). CEXs are often among the largest holders of a cryptocurrency, since they require large pools of liquidity to ensure their exchange functions. Another CEX, Binance, is the fifth-largest holder, at 1.99 million ETH ($5.44bn).

That leaves one private address in the top five. Although no definitive answer can be concluded, an educated guess can be made. Joseph Lubin, co-founder of Ethereum alongside Buterin, and leader of Ethereum software company ConsenSys, had an estimated net worth of $5bn as far back as 2018. According to Forbes: “Crypto-industry insiders believe he may be the single-largest holder of Ether, with valuations as high as $10bn, but Lubin insists he’s been selling. For now we’ll split the difference.”

This private address (we’ll call it 0x73 for short) holds more than two million ETH for a value of $5.44bn. Supposing it is Lubin’s wallet, it would make him the largest ETH whale – the person with the most ethereum.

Total Ethereum holders: A snapshot

Having followed a consistent upward trajectory since January 2018, the total number of unique addresses of holders of ETH stands at 188.4 million. Daily active addresses fluctuate more drastically, thus the answer to how many Ethereum holders are there constantly changes. The latest reading of 511,354 was down from a December high of 773,457.

Graph of unique Ethereum addresses
The total of unique Ethereum addresses continues to climb – Photo: Etherscan.io

Bitcoin comparison

You may be wondering who holds the most bitcoin. Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous founder of Bitcoin, is often considered the person with the most bitcoins, although an exact figure is a matter of wild speculation. Some reports suggest holdings of more than 1.1 million BTC, likely spread over hundreds of addresses. This would make Nakamoto among the wealthiest people on Earth. 

Tesla is a major corporate holder, having purchased $1.5bn in BTC in 2021.

The total number of daily active addresses is quite close to that of Ethereum, with a reading of 549,160, down from a December high of 781,300. The largest holder is the Binance CEX, followed by the Bitfinex CEX.

FAQs

A recent calculation showed a circulating volume of 119.7 million ETH.

Ethereum is a more stable investment option than many altcoins. But that does not make it a risk-free pursuit. Be sure to get independent investment advice for any sizeable investment.

Currency.com supports the ETH/USD trading pair with up to 20 times leverage. Always invest wisely, however, and never invest more than you can afford to lose.

Further reading

The material provided on this website is for information purposes only and should not be regarded as investment research or investment advice. Any opinion that may be provided on this page is a subjective point of view of the author and does not constitute a recommendation by Currency Com Bel LLC or its partners. We do not make any endorsements or warranty on the accuracy or completeness of the information that is provided on this page. By relying on the information on this page, you acknowledge that you are acting knowingly and independently and that you accept all the risks involved.
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