Diar, a crypto research group that analyzes the digital assets industry, has reported that “over 55%” of Bitcoins (BTC) belong to wallets that have a balance of at least 200 BTC, an amount currently valued at over $1.2 million according to data from CryptoCompare.
Notably, one-third or 33% of the bitcoins residing in these wallets “have never made an outgoing transaction.” Although several of these dormant crypto wallets may belong to exchanges, it’s possible that the owners of some of these bitcoins may have lost their private keys, thus losing access to their bitcoins.
Over 3 Million Bitcoins "Lost" Forever
This is also not the first time that (the possibility of) “missing” bitcoins has been discussed as digital forensics firm Chainalysis revealed last year that up to 3.79 million BTC, currently valued at nearly $24 billion, may have been lost permanently. Diar recently confirmed that this estimate is accurate according to their research.
One of the main reasons cited for this was careless mistakes by people such as throwing away hard drives that stored the private keys to their digital currencies.
It’s also possible that people are just holding (or “hodling”) their bitcoins while hoping their price goes up again. Recent data appears to confirm this assumption as it indicates that 87% of bitcoins are held in wallets that have a balance of at least 10 BTC, which is presently valued at over $60,000.
The total market capitalization of 87% of all existing bitcoins (at current market prices) is over $95 billion. Moreover, this large amount of cryptocurrency belongs to only 0.7% of all BTC addresses.
"Bitcoin Wealth Is More Concentrated Than North Korean Wealth"
As CryptoGlobe reported, renowned economist Nouriel Roubini criticized how only very few people owned most of the bitcoins. He argued: “Bitcoin wealth is more concentrated than North Korean wealth.” However, Roubini’s analysis was based on the Gini ratio - a measure of statistical dispersion that estimates the wealth distribution of a select group, or population.
The “bitcoin wealth” inequality appears to be even greater, or more severe, when considering that crypto wallets currently holding over 100 BTC ($600k+) account for less than 0.1% bitcoin addresses.
5 Wallets Hold $4.2 Billion In Bitcoin (BTC)
While these statistics do indicate that very few entities own most of the bitcoins, the wallets currently storing the largest amount of BTC actually belong to various cryptocurrency exchanges. So it would be reasonable to assume that wallets having the most bitcoins are crypto trading platforms holding the digital currency on behalf of their users.
Significantly, exchange data shows that 3.8% of the total BTC supply, currently valued at approximately $4.2 billion, resides in only 5 crypto wallets which belong to giant digital asset trading platforms.
Also, 42% of wallets carrying at least 200 BTC did not make any outgoing transfers at the time when bitcoin price reached an all-time high of nearly $20,000 in December of 2017. The bitcoins held in these wallets were acquired well before the cryptocurrency’s price reached record-level highs.
Despite the declining prices of cryptocurrencies, many of these wallet owners still have a lot of confidence in bitcoin as 27% of them have bought more of the flagship cryptocurrency since its price began to drop.