How Many People Own Bitcoin?
No one will ever know.
The most common method of estimating the number of Bitcoin owners is look at the amount held in different addresses.
There are three main issues with this method:
- One person can have many address and wallets. One person, for example, might have 1 BTC on his iPhone wallet and .5 BTC on his laptop. If we treated each address as a person, this would count as two people when it's really one. Many people own hundreds of addresses and 3-10 different wallets.
- Services can hold bitcoins in one address that belong to many people. Bitfinex, for example, holds 100,000+ bitcoins in one address. Bitfinex is a Bitcoin exchange with millions of customers. If we treat each address as a person, this would be considered one person but might really represent thousands of peoples' bitcoins.
Bitfinex cold storage address holds thousands of people's Bitcoin
- Many people don't move bitcoins off the exchange. Many people use centralized services and never create a Bitcoin wallet.
The second common method to estimate the number of owners, is to look at exchanges and check the number of accounts.
There are three main issues with this method:
- Inactive accounts. Some customers may open an exchange, buy bitcoin, and sell it later. This still counts as an account in the exchange's data, but the account doesn't actually own any bitcoin.
- Other coins. Many exchanges offer other cryptocurrencies. A user could sign up and buy only litecoin, but not bitcoin.
- Multiple accounts. A user can have unlimited exchange accounts. One, for example, might have an account with Coinbase, Kraken, and Gemini.
One recent survey showed that 11% of Americans own Bitcoin, which would mean about 30 million Bitcoin owners in America.
Another study found that about 5% of Europeans own bitcoins (37 million owners).
Just these two studies together would put the total number of BTC owners in America and Europe at ~67 million combined. But there are only ~20.5 million Bitcoin addresses with more than $1 worth of bitcoin.
So, the total number of Bitcoin owners depends on how we want to define "own". If owning bitcoin means storing at least $1 worth of it it in a Bitcoin wallet you own, there can't be more than ~20.5 million owners.
But, if owning bitcoin includes storing at least $1 worth in a centralized exchange or wallet, the numbers published by the surveys above start to seem reasonable. And the truth is, most owners of bitcoin likely do store their coins on centralized services.
With one study suggesting ~25 million cryptocurrency traders outside the USA & Europe, it seems quite likely there are over 100 million owners of bitcoins.
If true, it means about 1.3% of the world's population owns bitcoin.
Here is how we arrived at those numbers
How Many Daily Users of Bitcoin?
This section discusses on-chain Bitcoin users. It does not include transactions taking place on exchanges or centralized services.
The Bitcoin network processes about 300,000 transactions per day. This number is deceiving, since one transaction can have multiple recipients.
There are only between 400,000 and 800,000 active addresses per day. This means there are, likely, 300,000 - 500,000 unique users either sending or receiving Bitcoin per day.Kevin Rooke also offers some interesting data points on total number of days that exceed 1,000,000 active addresses.
Only 69 days in Bitcoin history have we seen more than 1,000,000 active addresses on the network.— Kevin Rooke (@kerooke) August 30, 2020
3 of those days were in summer of 2019.
23 have already occurred in summer of 2020. pic.twitter.com/1R9ASuIqfi
In March of 2021, daily active addresses dropped to around 720,000 active addresses.
This is all despite a rising price, indicating that people are not moving funds around and are perhaps choosing to hold thier positions to acquire deeper gains.
Note: Many people use Bitcoin daily by saving. A user who has money parked in Bitcoin is "using" it for investing or saving, but isn't necessarily making transactions every day. This is why we also have to look at the number of bitcoins in wallets.
How Many Bitcoin Wallets Are There?
No one will ever know.
We first have to define "bitcoin wallet". A wallet with bitcoins currently stored? Does a wallet that received bitcoins, sent them, and is now empty count as a wallet? Do exchanges that allow you to send/receive Bitcoins count as wallets?
Coinbase claims to have more than 35 million accounts, while Blockchain.com claims to have 53 million wallets. Together, that's at least ~75 million wallets. There are hundreds of more wallets with private data. We also already concluded there are likely over 100 million owners of bitcoins. With that said, there are many people that have opened wallets before but don't own bitcoins anymore. Most people also have multiple wallets.
Since there are only ~64 million UTXO's, we know that many of Blockchain.com and Coinbase's wallets are empty.
We're not going to try to estimate the number of wallets. But the data is clear:
- There likely has been more than ~200 million, and maybe billions, of wallets created during Bitcoin's existence
- There can't possibly be more than ~64 million active wallets, since there are only ~64 million UTXOs
With that said, one Bitcoin wallet can hold many UTXOs, so there is likely much less than ~64 million wallets in existence.
How Many People Know About Bitcoin?
About 90% of Americans have heard of Bitcoin.
88% of Japanese and 93% of Brits.
Another report puts the number at 66% of Europeans having heard of Bitcoin, with 78% in Poland and 79% in Austria.
In China, some 40% of Chinese are interested in investing in Bitcoin.
It's quite clear that developed countries' populations are at minimum quite aware of Bitcoin.
Based on the numbers above, it would seem there are at least 2 billion people that have heard of Bitcoin.
How Many Users Does Coinbase Have?
Coinbase's website claims that it has served over 35 million users.
This means Coinbase now has more users than Charles Schwab.
How Many Believe People Will Be Using Bitcoin in the Next 10 Years?
When survey participants are asked if they believed most people would be using Bitcoin within the next ten years, the results are not surprising.
Older people are, unsurprisingly, pessimistic about this event occuring, while young people are optimistic. However, all age groups have grown optimistic on this question over just two years.
How Many Bitcoin Traders Are There?
- How Many People Own Bitcoin?
- How Many Daily Users of Bitcoin?
- How Many Bitcoin Wallets Are There?
- How Many People Know About Bitcoin?
- What is Bitcoin's User Growth?
- How Many Believe People Will Be Using Bitcoin in the Next 10 Years?
- How Many Bitcoin Traders Are There?
One report by CH&Co estimates that there are between 51.2 and 52.4 million cryptocurrency traders worldwide.
Out of these, here is the breakdown by country:
- North America (USA & Canada): 15.3 million
- Latin America: 1.05 million
- Africa: 1.6 million
- Europe: 10 million
- Japan: 6.75 million
- South Korea: 5 million
- Rest of Asia (besides Korea and Japan): 15.3 million
- Australia and New Zealand: 400,000
What is Bitcoin's User Growth?
This is a hard question to answer. Let's look at some data.
Blockchain.com reported 31,914,414 users on January 1, 2019 and around 45 million on January 1, 2020. This is a 41% increase for the year.
Interestingly, the total number of UTXO's (unspent Bitcoins) grew from 49 million on January 1, 2019 to 65 million a year later. This is an increase of 33%.
Which Countries Have Banned Bitcoin Users?
Bitcoin is a controversial asset to many, especially those in office. One of the most precious powers a government holds is the ability to print money.
This article attempts to document the ever-changing list of countries that have banned and unbanned (and sometimes banned again) Bitcoin throughout the years.
Bitcoin has been 'banned' in China several times.
The first came in December of 2013 when the People's Bank of China decided to ban Bitcoin due to its associations with the illegal drug and gun trade.
Eventually this ban was lifted.
That is until January of 2017, when Bloomberg and the Wallstreet Journal indicated that Chinese regulators would halt all trading of the virtual currency.
While this never totally materialized, the city of Shanghai did halt trading in exchanges in the city.
Russia has never formally banned Bitcoin.
It did however issue warnings in February of 2014 to those exchanging it.
The warnings essentially said that exchangers would be kept unders suspicion of money laundering and terror financing if they continued operations. The citation also mentioned that in Russia, it is a crime to compete with the Ruble as a "money substitute".
In Russia, there is no room for both Bitcoin and the Ruble.
Russia has never formally lifted these citations, but exchanges and mining companies do continue to operate in the country to this day.
In July of 2013, Bitcoin Co, a Thai-operated Bitcoin exchange petitioned the Thai government for a money exchange license in order to continue operations.
The governing body making this decision denied Bitcoin Co's request for the license, saying that Bitcoin is not a currency. The board allowed Bitcoin Co to present their case that Bitcoin is currency and to potentially have their application re-evaluated.
Shortly after the appeal was granted, the Central Bank of Thailand issued a preliminary ruling that using Bitcoins in the way described by Bitcoin Co was illegal due to a lack of existing laws.
It is unknown if there have been any developments legally speaking, however there are exchanges operating in Thailand right now and there appears to have been no repercussions to users buying Bitcoin so long as the exchange registers for a Business Development Department e-commerce license