How many people own Bitcoin? The answer may be less than you think...
Why is this important to know?
This is a question that is impossible to answer with an acute level of accuracy, but an important one to look at for the future prospects of Bitcoin. From knowing a rough answer to this question, we can see how much market penetration Bitcoin current has, and thus how much room Bitcoin has to grow over the following years...
I believe that the 'making of' Bitcoin will be during our next financial crisis. We are 9 years on from 2007 (our last serious global crisis), and I believe Bitcoin could be adopted in mass numbers as a safe haven next to Gold when the next crisis hits. I did write a while ago about what I believed Bitcoin's advantages over gold are here https://steemit.com/bitcoin/@hisnameisolllie/why-i-think-bitcoin-is-better-than-gold however I will refrain from going off on a tangent in this post.
Cutting down the numbers..
First, we see from this distribution of unique addresses that there is almost 152m addresses. This by itself means nothing, almost all users will have multiple addresses (Multiple Personal Wallets and Exchange Wallets). Let's start filtering down these numbers (please take this as a rough @hisnameisolllie opinion guide, more than happy to debate my process);
- Almost 148m addresses with less than 0.001 BTC held: These accounts hold less than $0.65 per address. Unless there is a program that can spread BTC very thin across many account, these accounts can be completely disregarded. Less than 1000btc are held across these addresses which amounts to <0.01% of BTC in circulation. Thus, I will view these as dud accounts.
- There are just over 1.3m unique accounts will between $0.65 and $6.50 balance worth of BTC. Because of Bitcoins prevalence in China (I've read multiple sources that China accounts for well over 70% of daily traded volume), I think we can assume many of these accounts are active. With 5048 BTC held (roughly $3.3m), this works out to roughly $2.40 per account (on average). If you would humour me, I will account for half of these accounts being active and all accounts from here on out. For the purposes of this discussions, I believe users holding under $2 to not be significant users, or the account be owned by someone with more bitcoins held at another location (feel free to put your case forward if you disagree).
This takes me to 3.3m unique accounts that are active and not forgotten about. This article is a year out of date (http://www.coindesk.com/bitcoin-in-china-an-insiders-view/) however suggests that China had 800,000 users of exchanges, and Blockchain currently has almost 8m accounts (https://blockchain.info/charts/my-wallet-n-users), and Coinable had 2.3m users.
The difficultly here is, how many of these accounts belong to the same user, and how many users have accounts at multiple sources. I personally have a personal wallet on my laptop, and accounts at Coinbase, Poloniex, Bittrex, Circle,... I could go on. So let have a look at some other metrics to give us another aspect
Transactions Per day
Transactions per day are hoovering around 200,000 per day.
Unique Addresses Used
Unique Adresses used per day are hoovering around 375,000 per day
The cumulative total number of Bitcoin transaction ever is around 140m (https://www.quandl.com/data/BCHAIN/NTRAT-Bitcoin-Total-Number-of-Transactions). All these numbers lead me to conclude we are along the right lines with my (very rough) eliminations at the start of this article. Many bitcoin users will account for 100s-1000s of transaction over their time of use. I believe we can go one step further and suggest that the number of Bitcoin users is less than the 3.3m that I previously cited. But why is this an interesting stat to consider.
If we consider a point in the future when another financial crisis hits, governments begin quantitive easing once more, and citizens all over the world are looking for a place to park their wealth.. I believe in this case, Bitcoin user numbers could swell dramatically which would have a big impact on the price of BTC. BTC has a deflating inflation rate, a physical cap in coins that can be created, and are immune to centralised influences. They can be sent anywhere in the world for minimal fees, and can be converted back to national currencies in a split second.
3.5bn people have access to the internet and rising (http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm), and roughly 5bn people have bank accounts (http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2015/04/15/massive-drop-in-number-of-unbanked-says-new-report). It would not be crazy to assume/predict a 10-100 fold increase in bitcoin adoption due financial instability. This will result in a almighty rally in Bitcoin prices that could see it become a viable foreign currency reserve of the future.
With <3.3m users (IMO), there is a great deal of room to grow.
Welcome your thoughts..