Bitcoin oligarchs? 47 people own more than a quarter of all Bitcoins

Business Insider’s Rob Wile has a nice analysis up of who is holding Bitcoins and how that wealth is concentrated.

Using calculations presented by Risto Pietilä on and early Bitcoin developer Martti Malmi, Wile shows that of the 12 million Bitcoins in existence, just 927 people own half of them, and just 47 people own more than a quarter.

A full three-quarters of the currency’s entire market cap is controlled by fewer than 11,000 people.

TL;DR Bitcoin’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few. And it’s made 47 people in particular a nice fortune.

In that group of 47, each person’s current holding in Bitcoin is worth no less than $10,000,000.

We already know a few of the people in this group. Roger Ver has been publically identified, and we’ve reported before that the Winklevoss brothers have somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 Bitcoins between them.

Then, of course, there is the possibility that Bitcoin creator Satoshi himself is holding a million Bitcoins.

FTAlphaville writer Izabella Kaminska has a good analysis from mid-November that describes how Bitcoin favors early adopters and essentially an oligarch class that gets to set prices and charge rents.

According to Kaminska:

“The inbuilt expectation that prices can only go higher thus creates a contango market that rewards hoarding, and generates a synthetic yield — at least until a better alternative comes into being and encourages the human capital to flee or gather elsewhere on more equal grounds.

[…] Since the rentiers — system architects and early adopters — depend on continuous demand-based appreciation and expansion of the pool for purchasing power, the system risks going through an inflationary crisis if and when there is flight.”

The rest of her analysis can be found