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Who owns Bitcoins nowadays?

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Ever thought about who holds Bitcoins? Asset managers? Listed companies? Individuals like you and me? Let’s dive into the diverse ownership of the world’s largest crypto currency.

Dec 11, 2023 – As of December 2023, there are around 19.56 million Bitcoins in circulation. This figure changes every 10 minutes on average, as new blocks are being minted by Bitcoin’s miners or validators as they also are called. Its maximum supply or “hard cap” is encoded in its source code and  has been set at 21 million Bitcoins. So, just over 93.18 percent of Bitcoins have to date been issued, data from shows.

Vast majority of crypto investors hold less than 0.01 worth of Bitcoins

Nearly 75 percent of all Bitcoin investors hold less than 0.01 worth of Bitcoin (worth 440 dollars at today’s price). Another 16 percent hold between 0.01 and 1 Bitcoin (440 to 44,067 dollars). A mere 0.5 percent of all Bitcoin investor hold more than 10 Bitcoins. This nevertheless means their stake is worth nearly half a million dollars as of today.

Largest Bitcoin owner is speculated to be Bitcoin’s anonymous creator

Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin, is speculated to be the No. 1 Bitcoin holder ahead of crypto exchanges such as Binance, Bitfinex, asset managers and governments. He is estimated to hold a whopping 1.1 million Bitcoins across 22,000 different addresses, according to research carried out by River Intelligence. This stake is worth approximately 46.5 billion US dollars at today’s price. Nakamoto has to this date managed to remain anonymous.

As for other large Bitcoin investors most remain anonymous – unless they voluntarily have disclosed their investments. The tech billionaire Tim Draper and the Winklevoss twins are all known to hold Bitcoins worth more than one billion dollars. Other Bitcoins aficionados are the CEO of Coinbase, Brian Armstrong, the CEO of MicroStrategy, Michael Saylor and the former CEO of Binance, Changpeng Zhao.

Crypto exchanges hold Bitcoins wallets worth billions

The world’s largest crypto exchange, Binance, Bitfinex, another crypto exchange, and the investing and trading platform Robinhood markets hold Bitcoin wallets on behalf of clients that are worth billions of dollars. Their largest wallets respectively hold 248,597, 178,010 and 118,300 Bitcoins. It’s unknown whether these funds are owned by asset managers such as BlackRock or wealthy individual investors. The different crypto exchanges around the globe hold Bitcoins worth more than 85 billions dollars on behalf of their users, Grayscale data shows.

Some listed companies, asset managers are also betting on Bitcoin

MicroStrategy is the listed company owning most Bitcoins. Its latest disclosure shows the business intelligence and cloud-based services firm held 174,530 Bitcoins as of November 30, bought over the past months, which means the unrealized capital gains made on this investment exceeds 2 billion dollars.

Tether, the issuer of the stablecoin USDT, is another beneficiary of the ongoing Bitcoin rally. In May, the company announced it would allocate 15 percent of its net realized operating profits in Bitcoins, so around 57,500 Bitcoins. Its unrealized gains are estimated to exceed 1 billion dollars.

Tesla, the Bitcoin miners – Galaxy Digital, Marathon Digital and Hut 8 Mining Company – and the fintech Block are other listed Bitcoin holders that have been identified. Among other things, they have bought Bitcoins to protect their savings against inflation and during times of negative bond yields.

Celebrities have jumped on the Bitcoin bandwagon

Among celebrities, the founder of Tesla and owner of X, Elon Musk, the co-founder of X, Jack Dorsey, the boxer, Mike Tyson, Game of Thrones actress, Maisie Williams and the American rappers, Snoop Dogg and Kanye West, are among those having disclosed they own Bitcoins.

Former US President, Donald Trump, for his side ditches Bitcoin and has invested in Ethereum, according to the latest disclosed data. The incumbent President Joe Biden does not own any Bitcoins either.

Countries with Bitcoin reserves

The US government, to be more precise the US Department of Justice (DOJ), counts among the largest Bitcoin holders thanks to the seizure of hundreds of thousands of Bitcoins from crypto criminals and crackdowns on the Darknet. It notably seized nearly 95,000 Bitcoins stolen during the Bitfinex 2016 hack from criminals who tried to launder them last year. It’s the US Marshals Service that auctions the seized. Bitcoins. By November, the US held 194,188 Bitcoins, Grayscale data shows.

The Chinese government reportedly holds around 250,000 Bitcoins, a majority of these recovered from the Plustoken scam that took place in 2019. Some Ukrainian government members hold around 46,000 Bitcoins, according to River Intelligence.

It’s worth mentioning that two countries – El Salvador and the Central African Republic – have actually adopted Bitcoin as legal tender. Their national holdings remain small given the small size of their economies, but nevertheless have the potential to encourage the development of a blockchain ecosystem.

El Salvador’s crypto strategy had been derided by critics when implemented in September 2021 and during the crypto crash that followed. However, it is profitable two years later given the recent Bitcoin rally.

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