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Analytics
Who Owns the Most Bitcoin?
01/17/2024

Who Owns the Most Bitcoin?

01/17/2024
4,5

Bulls, bears, and whales are terms used to describe major holders of cryptocurrencies. In this article, we will focus on the most famous of these holders, known as "whales". In this article, we'll focus on the most famous of Bitcoin holders who can cause significant fluctuations in its price.

Who Owns the Most Bitcoin?

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have become important investment targets. As of November 2023, it is estimated that there were around 420 million cryptocurrency owners globally, predominantly from India, the USA, Vietnam, and Pakistan. This accounts for 4.2% of the global population.

However, when counting the exact number of Bitcoin owners, one can only calculate an approximate number. The reason for this lies in the peculiarities of defining the term ‘to own’. Bitcoin is decentralized and therefore not traded in regulated markets or through centralized exchanges. It is true that the Bitcoin blockchain publicly lists all transactions and wallet holders, yet this information is not tied to actual identities.

Who Is Crypto Whales and How to Find Them

Those who can own Bitcoin may be broken down into individuals, companies, businesses and institutions, and governments. Some of these are referred to by the term ‘whales.’ This term is borrowed from traditional financial markets, where a whale is an investor or trader with significant holdings, capable of influencing market fluctuations due to the size of their transactions. Thus, in the cryptocurrency industry, whales are individuals or entities that hold a significant amount of cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. The extent to which they can impact the market is extremely large, since their decisions on buying and selling coins are always monitored and analyzed by other investors and affect other players’ trading strategies.

One of the most common ways for analysts to estimate the number of Bitcoin holders is to examine the amount held at various addresses. In 2023, it was assessed that there are 106 million owners of Bitcoin, though not all of the wallets are considered to be economically active. There are approximately 67 million Bitcoin wallet addresses with active balances. Among these, 40.5 million have a balance between $1 and $100.

Despite the exact number of Bitcoin holders is unknown, it is clear that the number has been growing continuously in recent years. Coinbase data shows that there are currently 19.5 million Bitcoin (BTC) in circulation. Who have the highest BTC holdings?

Another challenge for discovering Bitcoin owners is that, while wallet addresses are public and can be accessed easily by the community, the names of their owners remain anonymous unless voluntarily disclosed by the owner. Some share their identities, and some prefer to stay in shadows. With that said, we are breaking down the presumed Bitcoin whale list.

Individuals Holding the Most Bitcoin

It was estimated that there will be 18 Bitcoin billionaires and 36,000 million billionaires in 2023.

Unsurprisingly, Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, is reported to be the top individual BTC holder. Nakamoto is believed to own approximately 1.1 million BTC across approximately 22,000 different addresses.

Next, go to the brothers Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss with 70,000 BTC. They are American investors who founded a cryptocurrency exchange called Gemini, where Tyler is the CEO and Cameron is the company’s president. They faced several allegations, the latest of which surfaced in late 2023, when Gemini was sued for allegedly defrauding 290,000 people out of $1.1 billion worth of crypto.

Tim Draper, a venture capitalist, has been reported to hold 29,000 BTC or more. He is renowned for his significant investments in successful startups such as Skype, Baidu, Tesla, and Space X. He made his first purchase of Bitcoin in 2012 and one of his lucrative trades in 2014, buying 29,656 BTC for $18.7 million. These BTCs were separated from the infamous dark web marketplace, Silk Road.

Michael J. Saylor, an American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and business leader, held approximately 17,732 BTC. He co-founded and served as the chief executive officer of MicroStrategy, a provider of business intelligence, mobile software, and cloud-based services.

There are also people who have not publicly disclosed the exact number of Bitcoins they own; however, it is known that a substantial amount of their wealth is tied to cryptocurrencies. Among them are Changpeng "CZ" Zhao, the founder and CEO of Binance, CEO of Coinbase Brian Armstrong, and CEO of the Digital Currency Group Barry Silbert.

Companies Holding the Most Bitcoin

Company Total Bitcoin Today's Value (USD)
MicroStrategy Inc. 158,245 $6,745,980,894
Marathon Digital Holdings 13,286 $566,381,890
Galaxy Digital Holdings 12,545 $534,793,076
 Tesla, Inc. 10,500 $447,614,771
Coinbase Global, Inc. 9,182 $391,428,459
Hut 8 Mining Corp 8,289 $353,359,889
Block Inc. 8,027 $342,190,835
Riot Platforms, Inc. 7,265 $309,706,791
Hive Blockchain 2,332 $99,413,109
NEXON Co Ltd 1,717 $73,195,673
  • Microstrategy, ~158,245 BTC. A company co-founded by mentioned above Michael J. Salor. It began purchasing Bitcoin in August 2020, and since then, more than 130,000 BTC have been acquired.
  • Marathon Digital Holdings, ~13,286 BTC. A company operating in the digital asset technology sector. They primarily engage in mining cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, while focusing on the blockchain ecosystem and creation of digital assets. Bitcoin has been mined since its founding in 2010 and is currently one of the largest and technologically advanced Bitcoin mining companies.
  • Galaxy Digital Holdings ~12,545 BTC. A financial services firm specializes in digital assets and blockchain technology industries. The company has a broad client base, ranging from institutions to start-ups and qualified professionals. it operates through various segments, including trading, principal investments, asset management, investment banking, mining, and corporate, and other
  • Tesla, Inc. ~10,500 BTC. American manufacturer of electric automobiles, solar panels, and batteries for cars and home power storage. In 2021 the company made an announcement that Bitcoin would be accepted as a form of payment, with Elon Musk tweeting: “Tesla will not be selling any Bitcoin.” Later, however, both initiatives were suspended with reference to environmental concerns related to Bitcoin mining. Tesla sold 75% of Bitcoin acquired during the crypto-bear market in 2022.
  • Coinbase Global, Inc. ~9,182 BTC. A company that provides an online platform to buy, sell, transfer, and store cryptocurrencies. Coinbase supports trading in more than 150 cryptocurrencies.

    Other public companies holding more than one thousand BTCs were Hut 8 Mining Corp. (8,289 BTC), and Block Inc. (8,027 BTC) Riot Platforms, Inc. (7,265 BTC), Hive Blockchain (2,332 BTC), and NEXON Co. Ltd. (1,717 BTC), CleanSpark, Inc. (1,677 BTC), and Exodus Movement, Inc. (1,516 BTC).

Countries and Governments with the Most Bitcoin

In some countries, cryptocurrencies are illegal, whereas others integrate them into the real economy.

Country Total BTC Today Value (USD)
USA 207,189 $8,848,988,321
China 194,000 $8,285,689,560
Ukraine (govt) 46,351 $1,979,639,159
El Salvador 2,381 $101,691,891 
Finland 1,981 $84,607,995

US Government

Yes, yes, that is right. Bitcoin's most ardent opponent and supporter of regulations is one of its largest holders. At the time of writing, the US government owned 257,189 BTC.

Of course, it is important to clarify that, according to the official version, all BTC were seized in 2014 from James Zhong, the main defendant in the Silk Road anonymous trading platform case.

However, the origin of these Bitcoins does not change the situation; at the time of writing, the US government is still not selling them and is keeping them on its wallets. When it decides to sell them, we are likely to see a strong market dump.

Chinese Government

Surprisingly, the situation with the Chinese government was similar. At the time of writing, they held 194,000 BTC as part of the PlusToken fraud case in 2019.

Yang Ju, founder of the CryptoQuant project, tweeted the following: "Sell-side liquidity from miners, institutional investors and retail investors is almost nothing compared to liquidity from the Chinese government".

In other words, China is another public Bitcoin whale that can manipulate the crypto-market whenever it wants.

Conclusion

Ownership of bitcoin is predominantly dispersed among a large number of small holders, with a significant portion held by identifiable categories such as exchanges, miners, governments and public companies that own the most Bitcoin.

A study of ownership, usage and perceptions of the cryptocurrency suggests that less than 50% of Bitcoin addresses belong to individuals, with 10,000 individual investors holding approximately 5 million BTC. This sets Bitcoin apart from traditional assets and reflects its appeal to a wide range of investors.

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The materials found on the Cryptonica website shall not be taken as individual investment recommendations. The financial instruments or operations mentioned therein may not align with your investment profile or objectives. We assume no responsibility for any missing facts or inaccurate information in the texts. Cryptocurrencies are financial assets with high risk and volatility. Therefore, it is crucial that you conduct your own research on financial instruments and make independent decisions. Before engaging in any actions related to cryptocurrency, you shall study, understand, and comply with the laws applicable in your region and country.

Barry Silbert Brian Armstrong Cameron Winklevoss Elon Musk Tim Draper Binance CoinW


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