Bitcoin has been the most popular cryptocurrency since the beginning. Most crypto enthusiasts still wonder who the largest owner of Bitcoin has been since it came into existence. It is believed that the ownership of bitcoins is still concentrated in the hands of a few people. The top 10,000 individual investors control about one-third of the total cryptocurrency in circulation in the market. This was stated in a report published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
It is difficult to ascertain the concentration of Bitcoin ownership. Most of the bitcoins are held by different exchanges or other entities on behalf of individuals who are represented by these institutes in public. According to NBER researchers, it is believed that the intermediaries in the crypto market controlled about 5.5 million Bitcoins in the market. At the same time, individual investors held around 8.5 million Bitcoins of the cryptocurrency market. This data was collected by using various data collection techniques at the end of the last year. Thus, the top 10000 individual investors controlled 3 million bitcoins, and the concentration maybe even bigger.
A few researchers also stated that this report about the concentration of bitcoins might be an understatement, as many of the largest addresses are controlled by the same entity. For example, the ownership of the early 20000 bitcoins was held in 20000 addresses by one person, Satoshi Nakamoto, and the data considered those to be 20000 different individuals.
The data has shown that the concentration of the cryptocurrency miners present in the market is even more profound, as discussed before. The NBER discovered that 90% of the Bitcoin mining capacity is controlled by the top 10% miners in the cryptocurrency market. About 0.1% of the crypto miners have control over the 50% of the mining capacity, which is about 50 miners. This high concentration of cryptocurrency miners has made the Bitcoin network vulnerable to the attack of the 51%, where the miners could be colluding together and having greater control over the majority of the Bitcoin network.
Researchers state that Bitcoin has been receiving attention from many investors over the years, but this ecosystem continues to be dominated by many big concentrated players, who can be investors or miners, or even exchanges. This inherent risk has made Bitcoin susceptible to potential systemic risk in the future.