The latest analysis from on-chain market intelligence startup Glassnode shows that although the number of Bitcoin whales had been going down since Summer 2016, so far this year, Bitcoin’s whale population has been increasing (almost continuously).
Glassnode defines a “Bitcoin whale” as an “entity” with a minimum Bitcoin holding of 1000 BTC. It should be noted that an “entity” (or user) is not the same a “Bitcoin address”:
- One Bitcoin address (such as one belonging to a crypto exchange) can hold bitcoin from multiple users .
- A single entity/user may own/control multiple Bitcoin addresses.
According to Glassnode’s blog post, the number of Bitcoin whales is now above 1800 and could be headed to new highs.
As you can see in the chart below, although the total amount of BTC held by whales has been steadily going down from around 6.7 million BTC since mid 2016 to reach a low of around 5.2 million by the end of 2019, the BTC balance held by whales has been going up this year, and it currently stands around 5.4 million BTC:
As for the USD value of the total BTC held by Bitcoin whales, this “USD wealth” is currently less than the peak (slightly above $100 billion) it reached near the end of 2017 when the price of Bitcoin reached an all-time high (ATH) of nearly $20,000:
Glassnode goes on to point out that despite the number of Bitcoin whales going up, “individual whales are not getting richer on average”, which means that “the recent increase in whales’ BTC balance is due to the increasing number of whales, not due to individual whales getting richer”.
Finally, Glassnode’s report points out that the “average whale wealth” has not gone down too much since some of the Bitcoin whales “may still be quite large”, and this possible because many new Bitcoin whales “are actually withdrawing existing wealth from exchanges”.