The number of BTC-whales increased by 30% for the year

The number of addresses with more than 1'000 BTC has increased significantly over the past 12 months. Understand the reason: New products or old bitcoiners share assets?

According to Coin Metrics, since September 2018, the number of bitcoin whales has increased by 30%, even taking into account the exclusion of crypto-exchange addresses from the list.

The BitInfoCharts data also confirm that at the time of printing, 2 '148 addresses, or less than 0.01% of all bitcoin addresses, contain more than 1' 000 bitcoins.

As you can see from the chart above, over the past 12 months, the list has seen growth on a curve of almost 90 degrees. Investor and analyst Willy Wu believes that this list has expanded mainly due to increased investor participation in the market:

There are two options: we have investors with large capital or it can be the practice of cold storage on exchanges and other custodial solutions. The latter explanation cannot be ruled out, but it does not coincide with other data available to us regarding the timing of when this happened in the past.

Note that BTC fell from $ 6 '400 to $ 3' 100 in the last quarter of 2018, and savvy investors may have taken advantage of the price drop to buy up the largest cryptocurrency on the cheap, resulting in a price increase of more than 1 ' 000 bitcoins.

Other observers, however, are not convinced that the number of people with 1 ' 000 + BTC has actually increased.

After all, a person can transfer 50,000 bitcoins from one wallet to 50 different wallets for storage purposes. In addition, crypto-exchanges such as Binance contain bitcoins belonging to millions of users, and can store coins in different wallets for the sake of diversifying risks.

Although trading volume is the lifeblood of exchanges, it is not necessarily reflected on the blockchain as these companies can internally debit or credit customer addresses without performing a transaction on the public Ledger. However, it is impossible to know for sure whether a given address with rare transactions is an exchange or a whale.

Also, as the chart below shows, if you take away the known addresses of the exchanges, the list has still lengthened by almost 30% in 12 months, to more than 2'100 addresses, which is generally the same rate as for all addresses.

This confirms Wu's interpretation that the influx of people making high-yield investments was the main reason for the increase in the number of addresses with more than 1 ' 000 BTC.

According to Qiao Wang, product Director at crypto analyzer Massari, another possible reason for the growth could be the distribution of ownership rights over time:

In the beginning it was Satoshi, then a few early miners who owned almost all bitcoins. But over time, their share decreased, and other people entered the market.

Looking ahead, both investors and exchanges can continue to drive growth in the number of "rich" addresses. After the next halving-a historically bullish event that will happen in six months - new investors may enter the market again.

In addition, trading volumes on derivatives, in particular bitcoin futures from the Bakkt - exchange, which needs to store bitcoins for its physical supplies at the time of the expiration of its own contracts, are increasing.

Most recently, futures jumped more than 250% to $ 11 million. It is also worth noting that Bakkt, which is a subsidiary of Intercontinental Exchange, is due to launch options based on its futures on December 8.

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