The list of Bitcoins, or the number of addresses holding more than 1,000 BTC, has risen over the past 12 months, perhaps reflecting an influx of wealthy investors.
The metric has grown 30% since September 2018, according to Coin Metrics data. Even adjusted to exclude addresses known to belong to exchanges, the figure shows a similar increase.
At the time of printing, 2,148 addresses contain more than 1,000 bitcoins, which represents only 0.01% of all bitcoin addresses, as shown in BitInfoCharts' Bitcoin Enriched List.
As the graph above shows, the list has increased almost 90 degrees in the last 12 months. Investor and analyst Willy Woo believes that the list has widened mainly because of the increased participation of investors in the market:
"The two options are that we welcome very wealthy investors or that this could be a cold storage practice on stock exchanges and conservation solutions. This latter explanation can not be ruled out, but it does not coincide with the other data we have on when supply has increased in these entities. For now, I'm going with the first explanation. "
Note that BTC increased from $ 6,400 to $ 3,100 in the last quarter of 2018 and experienced investors may have taken advantage of lower prices to obtain the best cheap cryptocurrency, resulting in higher more than 1,000 bitcoins.
Other observers, however, are not convinced that the number of people with more than 1,000 BTCs has increased.
After all, a person can transfer 50,000 bitcoins from one portfolio to 50 different portfolios for custodial purposes. In addition, a cryptocurrency exchange like Binance contains bitcoins belonging to millions of users and can store coins in different portfolios.
"It's mainly the exchanges … the amount of BTC held in the exchanges and the number of exchanges / custodians have increased," said the merchant Alex Kruger at CoinDesk.
He noted that the volume of transactions in the chain in terms of BTC has been relatively stable since September 2018 – a sign that the list of rich people may be lengthening due to trade, which tends to have a low transaction frequency in the chain. For example, major addresses have fewer withdrawals than deposits and could therefore be cold or offline portfolios.
Although trading volume is the lifeblood of trading, it is not necessarily reflected in the chain as these companies may debit or credit their customers' addresses internally without executing a transaction in the general ledger.
That said, it is not possible to know with certainty if a given address with infrequent transactions is an exchange or a whale.
In addition, as shown in the chart below, if you delete the known exchange addresses, the enriched list has increased by almost 30% over the 12-month period, reaching over 2,100 addresses, at about the same rate as for all addresses.
This reinforces Woo's interpretation that the influx of wealthy individuals was one of the main reasons for the increase in the number of addresses containing more than 1,000 bitcoins.
Another possible reason for this increase could be the distribution of the property over time, according to Qiao Wang, Product Manager at crypto data source Messari.
"At first, it was Satoshi, then some former miners, who owned all bitcoins. But over time, their share has decreased and other people have entered the market, "Wang said.
In the future, wealthy investors and stock markets could continue to boost the rise in the number of "rich" addresses. With the next halving of the mining reward – a historically bullish price event – expected in six months, new investors can enter the market.
In addition, trading volumes on the Bakkt bitcoin futures market, which must store bitcoin for its physically delivered futures, are increasing. Recently, the volume of futures has climbed more than 250% to $ 11 million. The exchange, a subsidiary of Intercontinental Exchange, is expected to launch options on futures on December 8.
Disclosure: The author does not hold any cryptocurrency assets at the time of writing.
Image of Champagne cups via Shutterstock; graph adjusted according to the exchange via Node of glass