Most Cryptocurrency Transactions Have No Economic Value: Report

  • Nearly two-thirds of Bitcoin (BTC) transactions have no economic value, crypto analysis shows.
  • Researchers say publicly available cryptocurrency transaction logs do not show the “full picture.”

Coinmetrics, a crypto asset analytics and data service provider, recently reported that approximately two-thirds of daily Bitcoin (BTC) transactions do not involve trading the cryptocurrency or paying for products and services.

The open-source data company revealed the transaction volume on Bitcoin’s network mainly consists of crypto traders moving funds from one wallet or exchange to another. Per the firm, most other transactions involve spoofing, market manipulation, and mining pools transferring the cryptocurrency to their members.

The data service also said there have been times when up to 98% of transactions on Cardano’s (ADA) blockchain did not have economic value. Meanwhile Elementus Inc., another crypto data provider, claimed over 45 percent of daily transactions on Ethereum’s network are either spam or do not have economic value.

Charlie Morris, chief investment officer at Newscape Capital Group Ltd, was quoted as saying:

If this space is not a joke but serious, then people need to more. You’d want to know the facts. If institutional money is going to come into Bitcoin, they’ve got to understand what they are buying.

Charlie Morris

Morris, who manages $300 million in investment portfolios, aims to bring more transparency to crypto-related transactions by helping firms develop blockchain analytics software such as Elementus and Cryptocomposite.

Blockchain Data Lacks Clarity

Elementus CEO Max Galka, a former trader at Credit Suisse Group AG, revealed his company will be working with financial organizations to launch a crypto data service this year. He added:

You are sort of looking at a tiny piece of the blockchain through a keyhole, and you are not seeing the big picture. It’s really hard to understand the context around it. What we do is we allow you to get the full picture.

Max Galka

Notably, a number of market experts argue that the “full” picture may be very different from what’s available on blockchain explorers. Analysts also argue that being hard to identify who’s behind cryptocurrency transactions may pose serious issues if said transactions are associated with illicit activities.

Lucas Nuzzi, director of technology at Digital Asset Research, a company that focuses on providing “independent, rigorous, credible cryptocurrency” data, stated that “creating addresses in these networks is free, and transaction fees at this point are sufficiently low to enable a single user to send small balance through hundreds of transactions."

Making Transactions Untraceable

This, researchers say helps people to transfer digital currency between accounts in a manner that makes it hard to trace transactions. In fact, Coinmetrics’ research shows one user was behind nearly 90% of the transactions on the Ethereum network between February 2017 and February 2018.

Researchers think mixers, entities that move cryptocurrency between numerous accounts, may be custodians or exchanges who might be trying to make it hard for hackers to steal funds. These could also be malicious organizations or individuals attempting to make transactions untraceable, in order to orchestrate illegal activities, Coinmetrics states.

Nic Carter, co-founder of Coinmetrics, believes the value of real economic transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain is of around $2 billion per day and of approximately $700 million on the Ethereum network.

Burn Satoshi's Bitcoin, Suggests Paxful CEO in Thought Experiment

John Moore
  • Paxful CEO Ray Youssef proposes 'burning' the stash of Bitcoin alleged to belong to Satoshi Nakamoto
  • Bitcoin creator said to hold up to 980,000BTC in dormant wallets, theoretically worth US$10 billion
  • Without complete consensus on the move,  burning the coins would cause another Bitcoin fork

One member of the global cryptocurrency community has come up with what can best be described as a scorched earth policy for settling the debate over who is Satoshi Nakamoto once and for all. 

With the spotlights of Bitcoin watchers firmly on the latest questionable claim to be the creator of cryptocurrency as we know it, Ray Youssef - CEO and co-founder of crypto marketplace and wallet service, Paxful - in a now-deleted Tweet - took to Twitter to propose a Bitcoin soft fork that would 'burn' the BTC its  pseudonymous developer is thought to hold in wallets that have never been active.

His suggestion was ignored by a group of crypto-luminaries who he tagged for support, and apparently rounded on by commenters. 

Blockchain analysis undertaken in 2013 by Security Researcher and Bitcoin Blogger, Sergio Demain Lerner , alleged that Nakamoto may have amassed something like 980,000 bitcoin as a lone miner in the early days of its existence. When the BitMEX exchange team revisited Lerner's work a year ago, they reduced this estimate to 700,000 - but didn't rule out the possibility that the figure could be much higher.

Thus, the cryptocurrency the creator fo bitcoin likely accumulated between Jan and August 2009 (or late-Jan 2010, depending on whose opinion you listen to) could, theoretically, be worth something in the region of $10 billion at the current market rate.

A more realistic assessment of their value, however, centers on the idea  that - as they are sitting in the most closely watched wallets on the crypto scene - any attempt to move or sell them would cause massive upheaval in the global cryptocurrency markets, crash the BTC price and gut their value before a significant amount could even make it to a hot wallet somewhere. 

This scenario has been a sword of Damocles threatening Bitcoin since the Satoshi's Stash theories first appeared amid early interest in the concept, explaining the appeal of simply removing control of the coins from their owner - especially to someone with a vested interest in Bitcoin's value. However, Youssef's suggestion that such a measure would 'smoke out' Nakamoto's real life persona, was obviously considered to be ethically outrageous by some and a logistical nightmare by almost everyone. 

It's not that it isn't technically possible. It is. However, unless it had the consensus of the entire Bitcoin network (saying it wouldn't is a pretty safe bet), the fork would create two blockchains and a 'Schroedinger's Nakamoto' - where Satoshi was very rich on one, but not on the other. 

Let it not be forgotten that a similar schism led to a fork in the Ethereum blockchain following The DAO hack a few years back, a split that we have to thank for the existence of Ethereum Classic, which stuck with the pre-DAO blockchain. Let it also not be forgotten that recent Bitcoin forks have not worked out so well for most of the parties involved. Let it also not be forgotten that Nakamoto is considered with almost deity like reverence by some crypto-evangelists. All in all, it seems Youssef is now regretting making the suggestion

So, while Youssef's suggestion could well have been a way to get the real Satoshi Nakamoto to please stand up, it would likely have done much more damage than good.