Until 2012, 1 BTC cost no more than $10. By 2016, bitcoin had risen to $1,000. In 2017, it jumped sharply to $19,000 per coin. In 2022, we saw an unprecedented price for 1 BTC – $46,300. Now, in 2023, the rate is at around $21,000 per bitcoin. What do you think determines the price of the most popular cryptocurrency? What is the reason for such sharp fluctuations in the exchange rate? The price of bitcoin is determined exclusively by supply and demand. If a large cryptocurrency holder makes a purchase or sale transaction for a large amount, the bitcoin exchange rate changes dramatically.
Thus, we can say that the largest investors determine the cost of this decentralized electronic money. This is why the public is so interested in knowing who owns the most bitcoins. Another important reason for this curiosity is, of course, the general fact that counting other people’s money is fun.
Who Are the Holders of the Largest Bitcoin Wallets?
We have all heard that most of the total volume of bitcoin (5% of the total emission) – is supposedly concentrated in the hands of its founder, Satoshi Nakamoto. At the same time, the identity of the founder may not even be true: it can be a legend, a fantasy, and if that is really so, then 1.1 million coins have never even existed in the first place. There is also a chance that this notorious million has been lost, maybe it is distributed among members of a large group of people, in which case it doesn’t make such impressive numbers any more. Therefore, we cannot really talk about the mysterious unknown owner.
Now, what about the rest of the owners of bitcoins? Are they real people? Yes, we can rest assured that these are real people, companies and even governments. In this ecosystem, there are tens of millions of addresses with a non-zero balance. But according to the US National Bureau of Economic Research, about 1/7 of the bitcoin market (~ 3 million tokens) is controlled by about 1000 of the largest investors, and not all of them are really inclined to reveal their identity. Only a few individuals and organizations have publicly disclosed their bitcoin assets, and our ranking of the largest owners of cryptocurrencies will be based on those statements.
The Richest Bitcoin Profiles
This is what the list of top-20 richest bitcoin accounts looks like as of early 2023. Who hides behind these addresses is confidential information? It isn’t always clear, but there are some interesting rumors in the crypto-lovers community about the largest bitcoin holders:
- It is said that a significant amount is concentrated in the hands of the North Korean government, but this money is obtained by dishonest means;
- The address in rating No. 5 (bc1qazcm763858nkj2dj986etajv6wquslv8uxwczt) is blacklisted, money stolen from the Bitfinex crypto exchange was transferred to this wallet on February 1, 2022, it is impossible to withdraw these assets.
What conclusions can be drawn by looking at the data from the list of the richest profiles?
- That 1% of the total emission of crypto-coins is a super-lot, and 1.29% of the total amount is accumulated in just one slot, which is an absolute record;
- Only 4 wallets have more than 100,000 BTC in their accounts;
- We must understand that there can be several owners behind one address and vice versa: one person or organization can own several addresses, so the list above does not create a complete and realistic picture.
|Crypto Investor’s Name||Possible Sum Total of BTC||Notes|
|1. Binance Crypto Exchange||447,000||They say that the address 34xp4vRoCGJym3xR7yCVPFHoCNxv4Twseo belongs to this exchange, but there are other addresses as well.|
|2. Government of Bulgaria||213,000||This money was confiscated in the process of fighting against organized crime, and not purchased at a market rate.|
|3. Bitfinex Crypto Exchange||207,000|
|4. Okex Crypto Exchange||205,000|
|5. Block.one Company||140,000|
|7. Roger Ver, founder of Kraken digital money exchange service||100,000|
|8. Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, founders of the Gemini crypto exchange||70,000||In 2013, the brothers sued Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook for a certain amount of money that they spent on the purchase of cryptocurrency. Since then they have been earning on the growth of the exchange rate.|
|9. Government of the USA||70,000||Crypto assets are routinely confiscated as part of criminal investigations and are regularly auctioned off.|
|10. Government of Ukraine||46,000|
|11. Tim Draper, a venture capitalist||30,000||Draper bought bitcoins confiscated by the US government in 2014 at a price of $632 per coin. Since then, he has been making money on the growth of the exchange rate.|
|12. Galaxy Digital Holdings Ltd.||16,000|
|13. Tesla, Inc.||10,000||They say that Elon Musk influenced the depreciation of bitcoin in 2022, when he sold 75% of his portfolio at the maximum rate (which used to be more than 40,000).|
Rating of the Largest Bitcoin Holders
The list above is a compilation of individuals, companies, and government organizations based on the investors’ public statements, as well as on insider observations.
We are not going to make the calculations here as to how many millions or billions of dollars the enterprising investors have earned on timely resale of cryptocurrencies. We are interested in approximately how many bitcoins have been accumulated on the wallets of different holders in the last couple of years, especially considering that none of the owners are in a hurry to sell them. Also, we are not going to talk about indirect methods of investing in bitcoin, an ETF (Bitcoin exchange-traded funds), because it does not offer direct purchasing of cryptocurrency.
As you can see, most of the owners have some connection with fintech. The largest wallets belong to crypto currency exchanges, which means that they merely store the assets of other users. On the other hand, the CEO of the Binance exchange, Changpeng Zhao, has repeatedly stated that he does not own fiat money. And although at the beginning of 2022 his personal capital was estimated at $96 billion, this does not mean that he transferred all his savings exclusively to bitcoins. It is quite possible that Mr. Zhao prefers his “native” BNB (Binance Coin).
It is easy to conclude that the more involved investors are in the crypto industry, the more likely it is that they store their assets in bitcoins.