Who Owns the Most Bitcoin in the World?

This article provides a thorough analysis of how Bitcoin is valued, takes a look at its supply and distribution, and, most importantly, answers the burning question: Who owns the most Bitcoin?

What Gives Bitcoin Its Value?

As you are probably aware, Satoshi Nakamoto had the idea for Bitcoin and envisioned it being a more open, democratic, and popular alternative to fiat money in the future. But what exactly is Bitcoin, and what gives it its value?

Bitcoin is a decentralized peer-to-peer network that allows users to send and receive payments without the need for a third-party intermediary such as a bank or a credit card company. Transactions are recorded on the Bitcoin blockchain — a distributed ledger — and each transaction is verified by Bitcoin miners who use powerful computer rigs to solve complex mathematical problems.

Since Bitcoin is not regulated by any central authority, it is largely immune to government interference or manipulation. This decentralization is one of the key features that give Bitcoin its value. Another factor that contributes to Bitcoin’s value is its limited supply: there will only ever be 21 million Bitcoins in existence. As demand for Bitcoin increases, so does its price. Thanks to its unique properties, Bitcoin has emerged as a popular alternative to traditional fiat currencies.

Image source: DCFX

BTC is often referred to as “digital gold” because it shares many of the same properties as physical gold. For example, BTC is scarce, durable, and divisible. Like gold, BTC is also a popular investment choice because it can serve as a hedge against inflation. However, BTC has several advantages over gold, which makes it even more attractive as an investment. For one, BTC is much more portable than gold, making it easy to store and transport. In addition, BTC is digital, which means that it can be easily divided into smaller units and bought or sold in fractions. Finally, BTC is global, meaning it can be bought and sold anywhere in the world without the need for conversion. As a result of these advantages, BTC is emerging as a popular alternative to gold.

How Many Bitcoin Holders Are There?

As of the end of 2022, there are more than 200 million unique Bitcoin wallets and approximately 106 million Bitcoin owners. There is a reason why these two numbers differ, and we’ll touch on this later. While the exact number of Bitcoin holders is unknown, it is clear that the number has been growing steadily in recent years. This is unsurprising given the increasing popularity of the currency, as well as its rising value. With more and more people understanding the potential of Bitcoin, the number of holders is likely to continue to grow in the future.

Who Are the Bitcoin Billionaires?

The term “whales” refers to large Bitcoin holders who possess 1,000 or more BTC. This can be people, businesses, institutions, countries… The individuals with the most Bitcoin holdings are listed below.

How Much Bitcoin Does Satoshi Nakamoto Hold?

  • ~1.1 million BTC
(Photo by Janos Kummer/Getty Images)Statue of Satoshi –
Budapest, Hungary. Source: Janos Kummer/Getty Images

In addition to creating Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto was the first miner to add blocks of transactions to the blockchain. From January 3, 2009, until his departure from the project in 2011, he mined almost 22,000 blocks, earning 1.1 million BTC in return. An estimated 22,000 addresses are used to house Satoshi’s Bitcoin hoard.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss

  • 70,000 BTC
Winklevoss twins. Source: CNBC

The twins purportedly hold 70,000 BTC and have made investments in numerous cryptocurrency start-ups. In addition to Bitcoin holdings, the Winklevoss brothers have invested in other cryptocurrencies and launched the cryptocurrency exchange Gemini in 2014. They appeared on Forbes’ crypto billionaires list for blockchain and cryptocurrencies in 2022.

Tim Draper

  • 29,000 BTC or more
Tim Draper.
Source: Evening Standard

Tim Draper, a venture capitalist well-known for his initial investments in start-ups like Skype and Tesla, made his first Bitcoin purchase in 2012. In 2014, he bought 29,656 BTC for $18.7 million when U.S. Marshals auctioned off Bitcoin seized from the notorious dark web marketplace Silk Road.

Michael J. Saylor

  • 17,732 BTC
Michael Saylor.
Source: Yahoo Finance

The American entrepreneur frequently tweets in favor of Bitcoin and makes the headlines for his business, MicroStrategy, which consistently purchases Bitcoin — even during bear markets. Besides, Saylor apparently possesses at least 17,732 Bitcoins himself — he disclosed the amount of Bitcoin he personally owned in his 2021 interview.

Others

CEO of the Digital Currency Group Barry Silbert and CEO of Coinbase Brian Armstrong are among people rumored to be in possession of significant quantities of Bitcoin. The exact number of BTC they own is unknown.

FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, involved in the recent epic FTX exchange collapse, is also on the list of Bitcoin whales. According to media reports, FTX owes creditors more than $3 billion. In addition, at least $1 billion in customer funds is reportedly missing. It is very likely that Sam Bankman-Fried will be forced to cash out his personal savings, including his Bitcoin investments, to make up for the damage.

Check this out: 20 crypto influencers you should know.

Top Companies Holding Bitcoin

Although a sizable portion of Bitcoin is owned by individuals, both public and private companies embrace this digital currency. Companies have the option to use their corporate funds, known as treasuries, to invest in Bitcoin. In order to hedge against inflation and negative yield bonds, several businesses have chosen to invest in Bitcoin and other digital assets.

Over 1.5 million BTC, or over 7% of the total supply, is held by ETFs, public enterprises, and private businesses combined.

Public Companies

MicroStrategy

  • 130,000 BTC

Michael Saylor’s Microstrategy is a public corporation with the largest amount of Bitcoin. Approximately 0.689% of the total supply, or more than 130,000 BTC, has been obtained by Microstrategy since it first started to purchase Bitcoin in August 2020. Other publicly traded companies may have taken their cue from MicroStrategy and added Bitcoin to their balance sheets.

Galaxy Digital Holdings

  • ~40,000 BTC

A financial services and investment management company called Galaxy Digital also engages in Bitcoin mining. The corporation currently holds 40,000 BTC.

Tesla, Inc.

  • ~10,725 BTC

Tesla purchased around 4,200 BTC in February 2021 but sold 75% of the purchased Bitcoin during the down market in cryptocurrencies in 2022. This move didn’t sit right with those who remember Musk’s 2021 tweet saying: “Tesla will not be selling any Bitcoin.”

Others

Bitcoin is also owned by other publicly traded companies, including Bitfarms Limited, Voyager Digital Limited, Argo Blockchain PLC, Hut 8 Mining Corp., and Coinbase Global.

If you find this article entertaining, you might also like our list of public companies using blockchain technology.

Private Companies

A little more than 174,000 BTC, or 0.829% of the total supply of Bitcoin, is held by private companies.

Mt. Gox

  • 141,686 BTC

One of the first Bitcoin exchanges, Mt. Gox had handled 70% of all Bitcoin transactions performed worldwide by the time it shut down in early 2014. Multiple hacking attempts against the Japanese exchange resulted in the loss of users’ money. In April 2014, the exchange filed for bankruptcy.

Block.one

  • 140,000 BTC

Block.one is the organization that created the EOS crypto.

The Tezos Foundation

  • 17,500 BTC

The Tezos Foundation is a Switzerland-based organization that supports the Tezos ecosystem and protocol.

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Indirect Bitcoin Exposure

For investors looking to obtain exposure to Bitcoin without actually purchasing it, indirect Bitcoin exposure is one investing strategy. Some investors think that diversifying their holdings across a wide range of Bitcoin-related assets may lower their risk. Bitcoin ETFs attempt, albeit imperfectly, to track the Bitcoin price. Stocks, mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds are applied as traditional techniques of indirect investing. Equities and other Bitcoin-related assets may be included in a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF), creating a more diverse portfolio.

816,379 BTC total, or 3.88% of the entire supply, is held by ETFs. Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), the largest Bitcoin ETF, holds 654,600 BTC, or approximately 3.2% of the total supply.

Countries That Own the Most Bitcoin

An estimated 271,417 BTC, or 1.29% of the total Bitcoin supply, is held by governments worldwide. This includes:

  1. Bulgaria, 213,519 Bitcoins;
  2. The Ukrainian government, 46,350 Bitcoins;
  3. El Salvador, 2,380 Bitcoins;
  4. Finland, 1,980 Bitcoins;
  5. The Georgian government, 66 Bitcoins.
Image source: Crypto Briefing

Also, there are rumors that the U.S. government secretly owns Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. This stockpile is formed from Bitcoins seized during investigations of criminal actions and then sold at auctions. The exact amount of the U.S. cryptocurrency stockpile is unknown.

What Does Institutional Bitcoin Ownership Mean?

In general, it’s not a big deal if countries and institutions possess a major portion of Bitcoin. Moreover, the use of Bitcoin increases as businesses like Tesla invest in it. In fact, it’s conceivable that as more institutions turn to Bitcoin, its usage as a conventional currency — with fewer restrictions — will grow.

Top 3 Largest Bitcoin Wallets

There are around 200 million Bitcoin wallets in existence, although this statistic does not accurately represent the actual number of Bitcoin owners because a single person or organization may own many wallets.

According to BitInfoCharts’ Bitcoin Rich list, over 945,000 addresses had balances of 1–1,000,000 BTC at the time of writing this article.

Two of the three largest Bitcoin wallets are those of Binance and Bitfinex crypto exchanges. 252,597 BTC are stored in Binance’s cold wallet. Bitfinex’s cold wallet has 168,010 BTC. Due to the fact that they also store customers’ Bitcoin deposits, the cryptocurrency exchanges may not actually be the sole owners of all these currencies. 2.9% of the total circulating supply of Bitcoin is split amongst the top three wallets.

Biggest Bitcoin addresses chart. Source: BitInfoCharts

Bitcoin Wealth Distribution

Bitcoin’s current circulating supply is 19,211,106 BTC. It is believed that around 4 million BTC out of this number have been lost since the digital currency first entered circulation.

Bitcoin distribution chart. Source: BitInfoCharts

What Happens After All the Bitcoins Are Mined?

Because the cryptocurrency system is still evolving, it can be challenging to predict what happens once all Bitcoins have been mined. But as soon as all 21,000,000 Bitcoins are in use, the economics of this crypto asset will unavoidably shift.

As an illustration, the incentives for dealers and miners will differ. Miners could make money and profits from transaction fees in place of collecting block rewards. The Bitcoin network is actually completely uncontrollable, even for those with the highest amount of Bitcoin owned. Consequently, it is difficult to forecast what will actually occur and what the price of “fully diluted Bitcoin” will be.

How to Buy Bitcoin BTC on Changelly

Buying Bitcoin BTC on Changelly is an easy way to get started with cryptocurrency. Changelly is a popular crypto exchange that allows users to buy crypto at the best market rates and with the lowest fees. It also supports purchasing crypto with fiat currencies — USD or EUR, you choose!

The process of purchasing BTC is fast and intuitively simple. Try it yourself!

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FAQ

What makes Bitcoin unique?

Bitcoin stands out as a distinct asset due to decentralization, immutability, censorship resistance, and limited supply.

Is Bitcoin a good investment?

Yes, Bitcoin can be a good investment, but only for those who are willing to take on some risk.

How to get Bitcoin?

To buy Bitcoin, you need to find a good crypto exchange and a reliable wallet. And even if there may be difficulties with the latter, there are no doubts about the former — Changelly is always at hand!

Final Thoughts

So who owns the most Bitcoin? The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. While there are a number of individuals and organizations holding large quantities of Bitcoin, it is impossible to know for certain who has the biggest holding. What we do know, however, is that the total value of all Bitcoins in circulation exceeds $1.03 trillion, and this figure continues to grow each day. With such a high value at stake, it is no wonder that people are increasingly interested in learning more about Bitcoin and its underlying technology. As cryptocurrency continues to gain popularity, it will be curious to see how the landscape changes and which players emerge as the dominant forces in this new digital economy.


Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this article are not financial or investing advice. The information provided in this article is the author’s opinion only and should not be considered as offering trading or investing recommendations. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. The cryptocurrency market suffers from high volatility and occasional arbitrary movements. Any investor, trader, or regular crypto users should research multiple viewpoints and be familiar with all local regulations before committing to an investment.