Unless you have been living under a rock for the past five years, you will have heard of Bitcoin. But what you might not know is who actually owns it? We’re going to explore the big question about who owns Bitcoin in this guide, so let’s get started right away – read on to find out more.
The basics of Bitcoin ownership
Bitcoin was an idea devised and implemented by two men – Satoshi Nakamoto and Martti Malmi. It was these two men that originally developed, published, registered and owned the specification and proof of concept. However, when Nakamoto left the project in late 2010, he gave ownership to a broad group of people, entirely separate from the developers. This simple act means that today, it is hard for any one person to easily gain control over the Bitcoin project. As a result, in short, anyone that owns a Bitcoin or part of a Bitcoin is an owner.
The blockchain effect
Because Bitcoin is not operated by one particular person or organisation, it requires a ledger to manage all of the Bitcoin transactions that occur every day. This ledger is known as the ‘Blockchain – and it works in a similar way to how people used to share video and music files. It’s important to understand that no one person is accountable for Bitcoin as a result – it’s entirely owned by the community.
While developers are constantly making improvements to the Bitcoin software, they are not allowed to change the rules of the protocol. There needs to be a consensus from the Bitcoin community, which encourages all users and developers to ensure everything they do lies within the guidelines of this consensus.
According to research by the BitInfoCharts, there are somewhere in the region of 23 million Bitcoin wallets currently in existence. However, more than half of these wallets are owned by people who only own a tiny fraction of a Bitcoin. At the top of the range, there are only 1,500 Bitcoin wallets that currently hold between 1,000 and 10,000 Bitcoins, while the top 111 addresses have more than 10,000 Bitcoins. In terms of monetary value, this is well into the tens of millions of dollars in each of the top 111 wallets.
The Silk Road impact
Remember Silk Road? The dark web marketplace has been shut down for many years, now, and all the Bitcoins that were on the platform were seized by the FBI. This made good old Uncle Sam one of the major owners of Bitcoin, and certainly the owner of one of – if not the – biggest wallets in the world. However, the US government decided to auction off the Bitcoins some years later and collected $48 million as a result.
As you can see, many people can claim to have part-ownership of Bitcoin – anyone with a Bitcoin wallet is an owner. And it’s interesting that no matter how many Bitcoins you won, you still have no real control over the way Bitcoin develops. However, those with the most Bitcoins can still have a huge impact. If, for example, someone with 10,000 Bitcoins decides to dump them, it could have a significant impact on the market price.
Read more information on Bitcoin here.