STATISTICS OF TRANSACTIONS, ADDRESSES AND HOLDERS
IntroductionBitcoin’s infamous block 1 was mined on January 9, 2009. The network has been live ever since and has produced 618,657 blocks up to this point. It is the longest running blockchain and therefore, I have taken a look at it from a statistical standpoint in this article to conclude, how its key metrics have developed over time.
Transaction GrowthLet’s start with the transaction growth.1 In 2009, there were 32,716 Bitcoin transactions. That number went up by 566% in 2010, with then 185 thousand transactions. 2011 was the first year that saw over 1 million Bitcoin transactions with 1.91 million transactions. The transaction growth continued in 2012, with 8.44 million yearly transactions. The growth rate slowed down a bit from 2013 on, but was still with 19.7 million transaction 2.3 times higher than the year before.
Even in the bear market of 2014, the number of Bitcoin transactions continued to grow – the year saw 25.3 million transactions. Transaction growth accelerated again in 2015, which had with 45.7 million transactions 1.8 times as many as 2014. In 2016, transaction numbers went up to 82.6 million, while Bitcoin broke the mark of 100 million yearly transactions in 2017 with 104.1 million transactions. The bear market of 2018 led for the first time in Bitcoin’s history to a lower number of transactions compared to the year before with “only” 81.4 million transactions. However, 2019 saw a new all-time high for transactions with 119.8 million yearly Bitcoin transactions.
A closer look at the transaction numbers per half-year over time offers additional insights. We can see, that the transaction numbers varied quite a lot between different years, but didn’t change that much if you look at the difference between the first and the second half of a year. The highest transaction number per half-year has happened in the first half of 2019 with 60.9 million transactions, followed by 58.8 million transactions in the second half of 2019. The first half of 2018 saw the lowest number of Bitcoin transactions in the last four years with just 37.6 million transactions. The following chart visualizes the transaction numbers:
Daily Active AddressesThe daily active Bitcoin addresses offer similar insights than the transaction numbers.2 The average value of the number of daily active Bitcoin addresses has been increasing every single year from 2009 to 2017. While there was just an average of 92 daily active addresses in 2009 and 382 in 2010, the number exploded in 2011 with 10,276 average daily active addresses. Growth continued in the following years, with an average of 23k daily active addresses in 2012, 68k in 2013 and 154k in 2014. In 2015, the average number of daily active addresses reached the mark of a quarter million for the first time and rose even higher to 408k addresses in 2016. In 2017, the average number of daily active addresses peaked at 565k but wasn’t that far off from the top in the following years, with 468k addresses in 2018 and 529k in 2019.
Dormant BitcoinHowever, not only did the number of daily active addresses rise over the past decade, but also the number of dormant Bitcoin.3 Bitcoin are generally perceived as dormant, if they haven’t been moved for a certain time span. The number of Bitcoin, that have been dormant for the longest time span are 1.15 million. Those 1.15 million Bitcoin haven’t been moved for 10 years and are presumably coins that are owned by Satoshi. It is not only Satoshi’s coins haven’t been moved for a longer time span, though. A total of 1.9 million Bitcoin have been dormant for 9 years while 2.4 million Bitcoin haven’t been moved for 8 years.
Those Bitcoin are generally perceived as “lost”. It has been a widely adopted assumption that the owner of an address lost access to the private key, if they haven’t moved the coins for such a long time while Bitcoin’s price went up over 1000x. The number of 4 million Bitcoin, that have been perceived as lost4 is equal to the number of Bitcoin, that haven’t been moved for the last five years (3.96 million). Adding to that, around 28% of all Bitcoin currently in circulation haven’t been moved for the last three years. With 8.26 million Bitcoin, around 45% of all Bitcoin currently in circulation have been dormant for two years, while 13.15 million Bitcoin haven’t been moved for the last year.
HoldersLet’s move on from the number of dormant Bitcoin to the current distribution of Bitcoin among holders.5 The number of people who own at least 1 Bitcoin have been called members of the “21 million club”, since only a maximum of 21 million people could ever own one Bitcoin. However, a look at the blockchain shows that there are currently only 703 thousand addresses holding at least 1 Bitcoin, while a total of 2.7 million addresses are currently holding 0.1 Bitcoin and a total of 7.6 million addresses are currently holding 0.01 Bitcoin.
If there are less than a million addresses holding at least one Bitcoin, there need to be other addresses holding a balance of way more than 1 Bitcoin. Currently, there are 144 thousand addresses holding at least 10 Bitcoin and 14.5 thousand addresses holding at least 100 Bitcoin. Some of the biggest Bitcoin wallets belong to cryptocurrency exchanges. Huobi’s cold wallet is currently the biggest Bitcoin address with 256 thousand Bitcoin, followed by Bitfinex’ cold wallet with 177 thousand Bitcoin. Overall, cryptocurrency exchanges could currently store up to 2.5 million Bitcoin.6
Wrap-upIn this article, we looked at Bitcoin’s blockchain statistics. Both transaction numbers and the average number of daily active addresses have been increasing in each of Bitcoin’s first 8 years. The yearly number of transactions had its peak in 2019, while the average number of daily active addresses peaked in 2017. Around 4 million Bitcoin haven’t been moved for the last five years, while 1 million Bitcoin have been dormant for the last decade. Currently, there are 702 thousand addresses which own at least 1 Bitcoin, whereas some of the largest Bitcoin addresses are considered to be owned by cryptocurrency exchanges.
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Information about Bitcoin transactions was taken from blockchain.com. You can find the chart on blockchain.com under “data” -> “charts” -> “Total Number of Transactions”.
Blockchain.com; Total Number of Transactions; 10.02.2020
Information about daily active Bitcoin addresses was taken from blockchain.com. You can find the chart on blockchain.com under “data” -> “charts” -> “Unique Addresses”.
Blockchain.com; Total Number of Transactions; 17.02.2020
Data about the cumulative sum of dormant Bitcoin can be found on bitinfocharts.com. You can find the chart under “Bitcoin” -> “Dormant” -> “Cumulative sum in dormant Bitcoin addresses”.
Bitinfocharts.com; Dormant Bitcoin; 22.02.2020
“According to new research from Chainalysis, a digital forensics firm that studies the bitcoin blockchain, 3.79 million bitcoins are already gone for good based on a high estimate—and 2.78 million based on a low one.”.
Fortune; Exclusive: Nearly 4 Million Bitcoins Lost Forever, New Study Says; 25.11.2017
Data about Bitcoin holders can be found on btc.com. You can find the chart under “Stats” -> “Address Rich List”.
Btc.com; Address Rich List; 10.02.2020
The website chain.info (mostly in Chinese) offers permanently updated data on the amount of Bitcoin held by exchanges. According to them, the biggest crypto exchanges could hold up to 2.5 million Bitcoin.
Chain.info; Rich List; 22.02.2020