YEREVAN (CoinChapter.com) – Bitcoin stepped on the scene in 2009, gradually trickling into the fiat economy through adoption, trade, and hope for redistribution of wealth. Fast forward to 2023, and hopes for an antidote to wealth inequality are slim. Here are just a few statistics:
Large companies and rich individuals hog vast BTC supplies. According to the chart below, whale addresses that hold 100-1 million BTC collectively own 60% of the coins in circulation. Hardly what retail SAT owners would call fair.
However, the inequality in Bitcoin distribution is no news. In late 2022, more than 114 million accounts held Bitcoin globally. The number constituted a 72% percent increase from 2021 and a 237% increase from 2018. However, National Bureau of Economic Statistics research found that 0.01% of BTC holders controlled 27% of the supply.
The study also asserted that 10,000 Bitcoin accounts hold 5 million out of the 19 million coins in circulation, or about $532 billion worth of Bitcoin, by today’s exchange rate. That’s some concentrated wealth that could give the fiat economy a run for its money.
In 2021 Bloomberg reported that the 1% of “affluent Americans” currently control about one-third of US dollars. The inequality intensified with the contagion that plagues the US banking system as larger institutions devoured smaller, troubled banks.
Who are the whales?
Notably, while blockchain data is transparent and wallet balances are viewable to the public, the identity of a wallet address holder remains anonymous unless voluntarily disclosed.
Bitcoin creator (or creators) under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto is estimated to be the biggest bitcoin holder in possession of more than one million BTC stored in roughly 22,000 addresses, according to bitcoin-focused asset manager River Financial. The site also argued that none of Nakamoto’s holdings, aside from a few test transactions, have ever been moved.
Meanwhile, one of the biggest Bitcoin proponents, Michael Saylor, the chief executive of business intelligence firm MicroStrategy, hogged approximately 132,500 BTC, equal to over $4 billion in value. Thus, the company remains the world’s biggest publicly traded corporate owner of Bitcoin at the time of writing.
Moreover, wallet address data compiled by BitInfoCharts also links the top holders to the Binance and BitFinex crypto exchanges.
The richest BTC address presented above possesses nearly 250,000 coins, equivalent to over $7 billion by March 22 exchange rate.
Bitcoin cannot solve wealth inequality.
Idealistic appeals to a system better than “greedy capitalism” bet too highly on the goodness of man. Many entered the crypto market to get rich fast, but expecting everyone to “win the lottery” is hardly reasonable. Moreover, Bitcoin’s 2021 stellar surge of over 200% invited institutional investors to the table and pushed away smaller fish that couldn’t afford to buy in bulk.
In 2021, Yale-NUS College professor Andrew Bailey said the world’s oldest cryptocurrency has untapped potential to promote liberty, equality, and justice worldwide. According to the data above, if Bitcoin was the hope for a fair wealth distribution, then “equity in finance” remains a myth for now.
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