- The distribution of Bitcoin can be analysed through the transparent nature of the blockchain
- Nearly 1 million addresses now hold more than 1 Bitcoin, equivalent to $27,500, or half the US median annual salary
- As Bitcoin collapsed in price last year, falling 77% from peak to trough, the 1 Bitcoin hurdle became far easier to achieve
The funny thing about the blockchain is that, while it is impossible to know the identities of individuals or institutions behind a Bitcoin address, the distribution of the asset is readily available on the Internet for all to see.
This means that we can study the distribution of coins across the network. For example, the largest holder of Bitcoin is the anonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, at approximately 1 million coins, or over 5% of the entire supply.
In digging deeper, however, we can assess how many people own certain thresholds of Bitcoin. Notably, one target is about to be hit: there will soon be 1 million addresses holding 1 Bitcoin or greater.
The current number, as of 8th May 2023, is at 997,919 addresses containing 1 Bitcoin or greater, equivalent to $27,500. With the median US salary at $56,400 per year, 1 Bitcoin thus equates to roughly half of that – and a lot more in most other countries.
To be clear, one Bitcoin address is not equal to one person, so this doesn’t necessarily mean 1 million people own 1 Bitcoin. Certain individuals are in control of multiple Bitcoin addresses, while some addresses may belong to institutions or groups of people. But it is the best approximation we have, as like we said above, it is impossible to know the identity behind these addresses. We just have an alphanumeric code on the blockchain, which is the beauty of it.
The one million addresses represent just over 2% of the total number of non-zero addresses on the Bitcoin network.
“For a long time, one Bitcoin was just a small amount of money. It was only ten years ago that it first crossed the $100 mark. Then in 2017, it passed $10,000 for the first time. It is remarkable to be sitting here now with nearly one million addresses containing at least one Bitcoin, despite how expensive it has become”, said Max Coupland, director of CoinJournal.
How does the distribution change as Bitcoin’s price moves?
Obviously, Bitcoin’s price is incredibly volatile. Back in November 2021, the price of Bitcoin was nearly $69,000, well clear of the median wage in the US. Since then, the asset’s price has collapsed. Despite rising 66% thus far this year, it remains 60% off its peak.
Therefore, this has made owning certain amounts of Bitcoin a lot more achievable. In plotting the pattern of Bitcoin addresses holding more than 1 Bitcoin against the price of Bitcoin, there is a clear shift upward in trajectory from the spring of 2022, when the price of Bitcoin began to crater downwards. This followed a period of levelling off during COVID as the price of Bitcoin went parabolic, surging from $7,000 at the start of 2020 to nearly 10X that by late 2021.
When comparing the growth in addresses holding 1 Bitcoin to total (non-zero) addresses on the network in the next chart, one can see that non-zero addresses have grown at a much more steady pace, with the pickup in early 2022 of addresses holding 1 Bitcoin or more not matched. This makes intuitive sense, as the world is on a dollar standard, and less dollars required to buy 1 Bitcoin means more people can hit that hurdle.
Despite the hurdle of owning more than 1 Bitcoin becoming easier to achieve, it is still a lot of money. If Bitcoin ever retakes the levels it did during its pandemic boom, the trajectory of people reaching this elusive “whole coiner” status will again slow, as it simply will not be possible. Of course, Bitcoin’s price can always go the opposite way, in which case it won’t be quite such a difficult – or desirable – target.
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