Much has been said in the ecosystem that bitcoin (BTC) would not be so decentralized since a large proportion of the cryptocurrencies that are in circulation remain in the power of a few hands. However, in its most recent report, CoinMetrics is responsible for demystifying such a claim.
A cursory look at the on-chain records shows that 17.3 million of the 18.9 million BTC that exist they are held by just 1% of bitcoin addresses. But this data can be misleading, the blockchain analytics firm cautions. Well, it does happen that the largest addresses are entities that own bitcoins on behalf of thousands , if not millions, of people.
Centralized exchanges such as Binance, Kraken or Coinbase hold bitcoins to facilitate trading and guard the funds in BTC on behalf of the people. In fact, these cryptocurrency service providers control 4 of the 10 largest BTC addresses, including Binance, which currently has a total of 465,000 bitcoins in their wallets. the signature in its most recent report.
In addition to exchanges, there are also other institutional entities that own large sums of bitcoin and can look like whales. Among these large players are BTC trusts that are funds that hold and manage cryptocurrencies on behalf of other people or entities.
«The largest trust today for assets under management is the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) which owns 647,000 BTC, which represents approximately 3.5% of its total supply ”, according to CoinMetrics.
The report also mentions other addresses that can be confused with whales, although it does not be. Among them are those that guard the BTC used to support Wrapped BTC, a token that represents bitcoin on the Ethereum network, with a 1 to 1 ratio.
CoinMetrics analysts found that at least 225,000 BTC is ‘wrapped’ as a WBTC token that can be used within the Ethereum ecosystem. Therefore, there are at least 41,000 Ethereum addresses that have a positive WBTC balance.
In that sense, “it is worth noting that BTC is far from the only financial asset that seems highly centralized due to custodial entities, ”the report notes.
For example, the portfolios of the top 10 investment funds and institutional investors of Facebook stocks , Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google, have between 30% and 50% of participation in the total of the outstanding shares. But behind it there are millions of small investors who are allocating capital to these institutions through investment vehicles such as ETFs.
The distribution of bitcoin is becoming more equitable
CoinMetrics researchers believe that as BTC adoption increases and miners inevitably sell new coins to cover fiat-denominated expenses, the bitcoin offering becomes more and more equitable.
In that sense, the number of addresses with at least 0.01 BTC is now 9.1 million, compared to 8.5 million at the beginning of this year.
In any case, in its report Coin Metrics adds that the distribution of ownership of bitcoin is a subject of continuous study. For this reason it warns that in order to determine it accurately it will be necessary to consider other elements such as lost coins or inactive addresses.
In this regard, it contemplates that at least 12% of the offering is in the hands of early bitcoin users. Many of whom have been inactive for long periods, such as bitcoin’s own creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, who is believed to own over a million of BTC divided into several addresses.
Currently it is impossible to know if the owners of these addresses still have the keys to access these funds, but due to the time they have been inactive, it is very likely who have lost access, as analysts warn.
In addition, we must consider the more than 2,600 bitcoins lost from the defunct MtGox exchange and exclude to addresses whose balances cannot be transferred since they have amounts lower than the re-commissions d.
In any case, the distribution of property within the Bitcoin network has already generated controversy in the past, as reported by CriptoNoticias. However, what always stands out is that the largest wallets often represent millions of customers, emphasizing the argument that Bitcoin addresses are not people.