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Author Topic: Back to basics: How many people have bitcoins?  (Read 3479 times)
RationalSpeculator
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August 04, 2013, 02:49:18 AM
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Someone said 10 million people used bitcoins, that sounded plausible until I realized that's 0.14% of the global population, which seems way too many, and a valuation of bitcoin at $1 billion way too low for such a coverage.

Upon researching I discovered 'Number of unique Bitcoin Addresses Used' on blockchain charts.

Seems like a plausible representation of how many people own bitcoins. Many have more than one address they use but that graph is likely not showing unused addresses that do represent people with bitcoins.

So it's at 60k, it was at 30k in 2012 before the bubble. And at 10k after the 2011 bubble.

That seems believable, around 60k people own bitcoins. 

Would you agree? Or do you think it's more or less?
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August 04, 2013, 02:51:20 AM
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I have over 20 addresses with BTC in them, counting my 'change' addresses. I.e, this thread is the exact opposite of 'rational speculation' Smiley

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August 04, 2013, 03:13:11 AM
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I have over 20 addresses with BTC in them, counting my 'change' addresses. I.e, this thread is the exact opposite of 'rational speculation' Smiley

Okay, so let's spitball this. I have used somewhere around 20 addresses since March. In the name of irrational guesstimation, let's say each current user has used 20 addresses. So using RationalSpeculator's 60k figure, that gives us 3000 users. Seems low. Any other ideas out there?

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August 04, 2013, 03:29:50 AM
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I have over 20 addresses with BTC in them, counting my 'change' addresses. I.e, this thread is the exact opposite of 'rational speculation' Smiley

Okay, so let's spitball this. I have used somewhere around 20 addresses since March. In the name of irrational guesstimation, let's say each current user has used 20 addresses. So using RationalSpeculator's 60k figure, that gives us 3000 users. Seems low. Any other ideas out there?

That chart is per day. Not cumulative. The total number of addresses is in the millions- but I don't see an aggregate number. Looks vaguely like 40m, so that would be 2 million users. Seems a bit high, but realistic.

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August 04, 2013, 04:40:30 AM
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I have over 20 addresses with BTC in them, counting my 'change' addresses. I.e, this thread is the exact opposite of 'rational speculation' Smiley

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August 04, 2013, 04:44:57 AM
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I have over 20 addresses with BTC in them, counting my 'change' addresses. I.e, this thread is the exact opposite of 'rational speculation' Smiley

Okay, so let's spitball this. I have used somewhere around 20 addresses since March. In the name of irrational guesstimation, let's say each current user has used 20 addresses. So using RationalSpeculator's 60k figure, that gives us 3000 users. Seems low. Any other ideas out there?

That chart is per day. Not cumulative. The total number of addresses is in the millions- but I don't see an aggregate number. Looks vaguely like 40m, so that would be 2 million users. Seems a bit high, but realistic.

Thanks for correcting. Where did you find the 40 million?
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August 04, 2013, 05:03:38 AM
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I have over 20 addresses with BTC in them, counting my 'change' addresses. I.e, this thread is the exact opposite of 'rational speculation' Smiley

Okay, so let's spitball this. I have used somewhere around 20 addresses since March. In the name of irrational guesstimation, let's say each current user has used 20 addresses. So using RationalSpeculator's 60k figure, that gives us 3000 users. Seems low. Any other ideas out there?

That chart is per day. Not cumulative. The total number of addresses is in the millions- but I don't see an aggregate number. Looks vaguely like 40m, so that would be 2 million users. Seems a bit high, but realistic.

Thanks for correcting. Where did you find the 40 million?

Visually it looks to average 40,000 per day over the last 3 years or 1,000 days. Just a rough estimate until someone can pull the numbers out.

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August 04, 2013, 08:30:02 AM
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I have over 20 addresses with BTC in them, counting my 'change' addresses. I.e, this thread is the exact opposite of 'rational speculation' Smiley

Okay, so let's spitball this. I have used somewhere around 20 addresses since March. In the name of irrational guesstimation, let's say each current user has used 20 addresses. So using RationalSpeculator's 60k figure, that gives us 3000 users. Seems low. Any other ideas out there?

That chart is per day. Not cumulative. The total number of addresses is in the millions- but I don't see an aggregate number. Looks vaguely like 40m, so that would be 2 million users. Seems a bit high, but realistic.

Thanks for correcting. Where did you find the 40 million?

Visually it looks to average 40,000 per day over the last 3 years or 1,000 days. Just a rough estimate until someone can pull the numbers out.


with only 21m transactions in the blockchain i find it hard to believe that there are 40 mil adresses.

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August 04, 2013, 02:04:17 PM
 #9

About 3000 seems right to me!!!
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August 04, 2013, 02:36:03 PM
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According to this there are currently 11,462,007 addresses:

http://bitcoinrichlist.com/charts/bitcoin-distribution-by-address
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August 04, 2013, 03:34:02 PM
 #11

According to this there are currently 11,462,007 addresses:

http://bitcoinrichlist.com/charts/bitcoin-distribution-by-address

Well , according to that stats ,around 175k with +1 bitcoin.
If we start counting all the bitcoins mined in the dark ages that were never moved, and the fact that people tend to keep bitcoins in multiple places .. I doubt there are more than 50k real users , not people owning 3-4 satoshi.

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August 04, 2013, 04:04:23 PM
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Very interesting question. Could be useful to try to find an answer, even given the inherent uncertainty in our estimations. Thanks OP.

According to this there are currently 11,462,007 addresses:

http://bitcoinrichlist.com/charts/bitcoin-distribution-by-address

Does this number include *all* addresses ever created and used for transactions? I guess it does... any address holding any btc must have been used in a transaction, and those must show up at some point, when the transaction is confirmed, right?

[...]
Well , according to that stats ,around 175k with +1 bitcoin.
If we start counting all the bitcoins mined in the dark ages that were never moved, and the fact that people tend to keep bitcoins in multiple places .. I doubt there are more than 50k real users , not people owning 3-4 satoshi.

Good point. But I find the > 1 btc cutoff a bit too drastic. 0.1 btc is still a lot more than "3-4 satoshi", so I would add at least the next lower group, 0.1-1. So we get around 250k addresses.

* * *

Here's a more general consideration though: there are ways to hold btc and *not* be associated with your own address. Take for example all the speculators/investors on mtgox, bitstamp that never moved their btc around. Their coins are stored for them by the exchange. They are certainly people that own btc, but they're missing from our estimation.

completely based on intuition and half-arsed guessing, I would put the total number of owners between 50,000 and maybe a million. (that's a pretty big range, I know.)

I find it hard to believe it could be much less than 50k, given the total amount of money that entered the exchanges at the height of the bubble, and the total number of (non-bot) trades on a given day. Also, given the media attention, subscribers to r/bitcoin and this forum, I simply don't think it's possibly there are only 10,000 or so owners worldwide.

On the other hand, I don't believe it can be much more than about a million, because of the limitation of how to get btc in the first place -- total number of owners = total number of miners + total number of people that are registered on the big exchanges. I'm discarding all less significant ways to get coins that way, of course.

Any comments on my estimation?

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August 04, 2013, 04:16:09 PM
 #13

^this was my ballpark deduction. I agree with your range oda

1. 11.5M bitcoins
2. probably around 0.5-5M in active circulation
3. prices around 96
leads me to believe that bitcoin isn't as widely adopted as some might think it is. Though it assuredly is increasing. Speculation doesn't seem to be over the top, pretty healthy considering the future ramifications of this tech and what it would mean to hold BTC were Bitcoin to become a success  IMO.

Assume market cap is an accurate way to measure actual market cap
11.5MBTC*$96= $1104M
Conservative guess, if only 100,000 different people hold bitcoins, each person might've put in $11040 to support the price and the average person would have 115BTC. But we know this isn't true. Say half the total coins outstanding aren't even on the market (Satoshi's and hold-BTC-til-USD-dies-hoarders' wallets for instance). Say 5M bitcoins were actively circulated. Price should be accordingly high assuming the total sum of USD inflow is the same, or conversely, the amount of USD that people that hold bitcoins have put in are lower, supported by more hands holding.
My guess is that the number of people who hold bitcoins is higher though. 2% of all bitcoin users donating to wikileaks seems to be a bit too high.

[see quote origin for numbers about wikileaks]

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August 04, 2013, 05:18:35 PM
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There are only about 20 hoarders with 99% of Bitcoins.

Evil early adopters and gambling sites.


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RationalSpeculator
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August 04, 2013, 10:49:06 PM
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Very interesting question. Could be useful to try to find an answer, even given the inherent uncertainty in our estimations. Thanks OP.

According to this there are currently 11,462,007 addresses:

http://bitcoinrichlist.com/charts/bitcoin-distribution-by-address

Does this number include *all* addresses ever created and used for transactions? I guess it does... any address holding any btc must have been used in a transaction, and those must show up at some point, when the transaction is confirmed, right?

[...]
Well , according to that stats ,around 175k with +1 bitcoin.
If we start counting all the bitcoins mined in the dark ages that were never moved, and the fact that people tend to keep bitcoins in multiple places .. I doubt there are more than 50k real users , not people owning 3-4 satoshi.

Good point. But I find the > 1 btc cutoff a bit too drastic. 0.1 btc is still a lot more than "3-4 satoshi", so I would add at least the next lower group, 0.1-1. So we get around 250k addresses.

* * *

Here's a more general consideration though: there are ways to hold btc and *not* be associated with your own address. Take for example all the speculators/investors on mtgox, bitstamp that never moved their btc around. Their coins are stored for them by the exchange. They are certainly people that own btc, but they're missing from our estimation.

completely based on intuition and half-arsed guessing, I would put the total number of owners between 50,000 and maybe a million. (that's a pretty big range, I know.)

I find it hard to believe it could be much less than 50k, given the total amount of money that entered the exchanges at the height of the bubble, and the total number of (non-bot) trades on a given day. Also, given the media attention, subscribers to r/bitcoin and this forum, I simply don't think it's possibly there are only 10,000 or so owners worldwide.

On the other hand, I don't believe it can be much more than about a million, because of the limitation of how to get btc in the first place -- total number of owners = total number of miners + total number of people that are registered on the big exchanges. I'm discarding all less significant ways to get coins that way, of course.

Any comments on my estimation?

Thanks for your appreciation oda.

Very good point mtgox etc represent also many users but is that really off blockchain because whenever you transfer btc to an exchange you do create a btc address that you also send to. Confused here about that.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, 50k seems too low for me too. 1 million is possible though that would be already a serious penetration considering that's 1 in 6000 people in the world that own bitcoins. I don't think that's the case for Africa or South America or Asia. It could be the case for North America and Europe but it should in fact be 1 in 1000 in North America and Europe just to balance out the rest of the world. That seems possible though.   
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August 04, 2013, 10:53:09 PM
 #16

According to this there are currently 11,462,007 addresses:

http://bitcoinrichlist.com/charts/bitcoin-distribution-by-address

Well , according to that stats ,around 175k with +1 bitcoin.
If we start counting all the bitcoins mined in the dark ages that were never moved, and the fact that people tend to keep bitcoins in multiple places .. I doubt there are more than 50k real users , not people owning 3-4 satoshi.

Thanks Jake and niothor for the valuable information.
RationalSpeculator
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August 04, 2013, 10:56:26 PM
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[...]
Well , according to that stats ,around 175k with +1 bitcoin.
If we start counting all the bitcoins mined in the dark ages that were never moved, and the fact that people tend to keep bitcoins in multiple places .. I doubt there are more than 50k real users , not people owning 3-4 satoshi.

Good point. But I find the > 1 btc cutoff a bit too drastic. 0.1 btc is still a lot more than "3-4 satoshi", so I would add at least the next lower group, 0.1-1. So we get around 250k addresses.

* * *

Here's a more general consideration though: there are ways to hold btc and *not* be associated with your own address. Take for example all the speculators/investors on mtgox, bitstamp that never moved their btc around. Their coins are stored for them by the exchange. They are certainly people that own btc, but they're missing from our estimation.

completely based on intuition and half-arsed guessing, I would put the total number of owners between 50,000 and maybe a million. (that's a pretty big range, I know.)

I find it hard to believe it could be much less than 50k, given the total amount of money that entered the exchanges at the height of the bubble, and the total number of (non-bot) trades on a given day. Also, given the media attention, subscribers to r/bitcoin and this forum, I simply don't think it's possibly there are only 10,000 or so owners worldwide.

On the other hand, I don't believe it can be much more than about a million, because of the limitation of how to get btc in the first place -- total number of owners = total number of miners + total number of people that are registered on the big exchanges. I'm discarding all less significant ways to get coins that way, of course.

Any comments on my estimation?

Interesting, it all depends if addresses on exchanges are really off blockchain?

Because if not then indeed 250k unique addresses with more than 0.1btc is very low considering on average one holds say 3 addresses, so that would be 100k users maximum.
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August 04, 2013, 11:02:03 PM
 #18

There are only about 20 hoarders with 99% of Bitcoins.

Evil early adopters and gambling sites.



No its only satoshi, artforz, vladimir and a bunch of suckers.

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August 04, 2013, 11:08:13 PM
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Very good point mtgox etc represent also many users but is that really off blockchain because whenever you transfer btc to an exchange you do create a btc address that you also send to. Confused here about that.

Every time a transaction corresponds to bitcoin coming *into* the exchange, or *leaving* the exchange, sure.

But a huge part of the everyday trading, I'm sure, consists of BTC and USD just trading back and forth. And for those trades, to my knowledge, the exchanges don't creat new transactions -- they just move around the traded bitcoins between their customers in their internal balance sheets, but the actual btc are held in a combination of a 'hot' wallet and 'cold' wallet of the exchange. Others can correct me if I'm wrong about that.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, 50k seems too low for me too. 1 million is possible though that would be already a serious penetration considering that's 1 in 6000 people in the world that own bitcoins. I don't think that's the case for Africa or South America or Asia. It could be the case for North America and Europe but it should in fact be 1 in 1000 in North America and Europe just to balance out the rest of the world. That seems possible though.   

Yes. I wanted to give a range that I feel comfortable is really inclusive of the actual number, so I picked a rather low and a rather high number.

Still, I'm not completely sure if 1 million is really so completely off target. Sourceforge registered ~3.5 M client downloads since the beginning of time.

Sure, quite a few of them are duplicate downloads, and not everyone who downloaded the client actually owns bitcoin. Then again, that inflation of the target would be countered by those who hold btc but use an alternative client, or those who own btc without ever having downloaded a client.

If I had to pick a single number, I would probably say around 500k people hold bitcoin worth more than 1 USD.

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August 04, 2013, 11:10:34 PM
 #20

I think 1-2M people own less than few (1-5) BTC each then few thousands of speculators own other 4-10M BTC together. Just feeling. ... I'm speculator(long term investor) :-)
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