Bitcoin is digital gold. It is the most successful cryptocurrency so far. After all, it is the first cryptocurrency ever. Bitcoin is not an inflationary coin, which means that there will be a finite number of coins created (mined).
To mimic the scarcity of gold, bitcoin requires investment in computational and electric power (a process called ‘mining’ or ‘crypto mining’). Rewards for miners diminish at a predictable rate. There will never be more than 21 million bitcoins in existence.
So, who has the most bitcoins?
Considering that bitcoins are owned by private individuals, governments, corporations, and other institutions let’s see who’s holding the most in each category.
Individual accounts: The crypto billionaires
The price surge of bitcoin has created billionaires. Most of them are early adopters who started accumulating or mining bitcoins in the early days. Also, many of them are prominent figures in the world of crypto founding and contributing to the cryptocurrency’s ecosystem.
Possibly very fitting for a creator of the cryptocurrency, the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto is not known. Namely, Satoshi Nakamoto developed bitcoin, wrote the white paper, and engineered bitcoin’s first implementation. No one knows, though, who this person is if he’s real or just a name, pseudonym for a group of developers. Satoshi’s involvement in the life of bitcoin wanes from 2010 onwards. Many people have been claimed to be Nakamoto.
Considering that Satoshi Nakamoto was the first miner of bitcoin, he is the person (if he is a person, at all) holding the most tokens. Rewards for Satoshi’s mining are estimated at million bitcoins. That would be over $40 billion at the current bitcoin price.
Co-founder of Bitmain Technologies, Micree Zhan is rumored to be the person with the second-largest bitcoin wealth after Nakamoto. Mister Zhan is the 9th richest self-made millionaire,
according to Bloomberg. Bitmain is designing and producing application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC), that are essential to crypto mining.
After a power struggle with co-founder Wu Jihan, Micree was removed from the company, only to purchase shares from other shareholders and reclaim his role as CEO. His net worth is estimated at over $5 million.
Sam is the founder and CEO of FTX, one of the large and respectable cryptocurrency exchanges. FTX deals with derivatives, primarily cryptocurrency futures, currently unavailable at most other crypto exchanges. He made the news when he made a donation of more than $5 million to Joe Biden’s campaign in 2020.
Sam is a fervent altruist, following the “earn to give” philosophy. His wealth is estimated to be worth $26.5 billion in October 2021.
Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss
The Winklevoss brothers became the first billionaires in the world of cryptocurrencies when the price of bitcoin surged upwards in 2017. While most of their wealth comes from the investments they made early in the history of cryptocurrencies, they are also adept entrepreneurs who founded the Gemini crypto exchange. They were also smart enough to realize the potential of NFTs, owning Nifty Gateway, one of the platforms to buy and sell NFTs (blockchain-based highly collectible art). Their net worth is estimated at $5 billion each.
Barry Silbert’s nickname is The King of Crypto. This is mostly because he has invested in more than 100 bitcoin- and blockchain-based companies. He started Grayscale, a company dedicated to digital currency investing. With Grayscale, Silbert launched Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), one of the first crypto ETFs that tracks the price of bitcoin.
His primary company, Digital Currency Group (DCG) has acquired CoinDesk, the leading source of all crypto-related news. CoinDesk runs the bitcoin conference, Consensus. His net worth is upwards of $2 billion.
Governments: Which country has the most bitcoin?
Governments stay clear from bitcoin. When they accumulate it, it is through the law enforcement agencies seizing the funds. Some of the countries that acquired bitcoin in this way are Bulgaria, Sweden, Finland, Ukraine, and Georgia. US federal agencies usually sell the seized coins for rock-bottom prices.
El Salvador is the only country in the world where bitcoin is legal tender. It is also the only government in the world that participates in the bitcoin market. Profits from government agencies trading in bitcoin funded more than 20 schools in El Salvador.
Bulgaria seized over 213500 bitcoin, back fore the price surge of 2017. It is not clear what happened to this wealth. Bulgarian official media denies that the government is still holding on to the coins. It is possible that they sold it all, losing the chance to have $9 billion, enough to pay off their government’s debt many times over.
Private and publicly owned companies: Which corp holds the most bitcoin?
So, which companies hold bitcoin on their balance sheet? After 2017, when it became clear that bitcoin prices will only go up, institutions started looking to acquire bitcoin as one of the measures of protection from inflation and negative-yield bonds.
Privately owned, Block.one is a software company specializing in high-performance blockchain technologies. They hold 140.000 bitcoins. This created an interesting situation where the company holds twice as much bitcoin in reserve than their own coin, EOS’s market cap.
Microstrategy is a business analytics platform. They own more than 124.000 bitcoins. They purchased bitcoin both with their corporate treasury – sort of company savings account – and through bond offerings. Bond offered have a very low-interest rate and can be exchanged for equity in Microstrategy or fiat currency, a move that allowed them to acquire amount much larger than their treasury would allow.
Tesla is an American electric vehicle and clean energy company that designs and manufactures electric cars. They are one of the most valuable automakers in the world with a market cap of over $1 trillion. They are also the first automaker company that accepts bitcoin payments. They own more than 42.000 bitcoin.