While a whale in any sense and context of the word is bound to denote something massive, Bitcoin whales are definitely not things of enormous proportions. They are regular individuals, groups of people, or specific organizations, and the amount of Bitcoin they hold in their possession is the catch.
After all, the supply of Bitcoin crypto-coins is limited in the digital currency world, and there are growing concerns regarding the true nature of the technology behind it, the blockchain. This is due to the decentralized character of the platform, and the contrast provided by such extremely wealthy e-wallet holders.
Who Is the Richest Bitcoin Owner?
With all this talk about who owns what portion of the limited supply of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, an inevitable question arises regarding the most BTC owned by a single whale. While the first group of nine Bitcoin whale traders includes wallets with as little as 12,000 BTC and as much as 85,000 BTC, the person to owns the most Bitcoin is arguably Satoshi Nakamoto. This is the well-known pseudonym of the Bitcoin inventor, who is said to own a million Bitcoins, spread across a number of e-wallets. They haven’t circulated on the market since their initial mining process, so most analysts consider them lost rather than existing.
The Bitcoin Whale Species
Numerous institutions have engaged themselves with the matter of Bitcoin whales—their existence, categorization, and sustainability. One of the most recent analyses was conducted by the Chainalysis research company, who identified 32 Bitcoin whales based on their separate e-wallets, the amount of Bitcoin in them, and their activity.
Each of these is said to feature a set of common characteristics, thus making it easy for the research analysts to categorize them into four different types. The first type is that of the so-called “trader” whales—these are spread across 9 wallets and hold 332,000 BTC, with a market value estimated at $2.1 billion. They are the known Bitcoin whales who appeared in the beginning of 2017 and have been actively trading and investing in the cryptocurrency since.
What’s interesting about this group of whales is that they are the only active ones among the categories. However, their activity does not impact the value of Bitcoin. They tend to buy Bitcoins during falls in price—mostly induced by them—and accumulate a bigger amount with a smaller investment. After all, what is a whale investor in Bitcoin if not someone able to manipulate the market to their own benefit?
The second group of Bitcoin whales are a collection of 15 e-wallets that hold the same BTC amount as the first ones. They are made up of the initial Bitcoin miners and investors, back in the days when the blockchain required much less power and effort to mine Bitcoins.
The other two groups are the “lost whales” holding about 212,000 BTC, or about $1.3 billion spread across an aggregate of five e-wallets. These are presumed to be the early Bitcoin owners who have since passed away or lost the keys to their wallets.
The last group, which is comprised of three wallets holding 125,000 BTC or $790 million, are the “criminal whales.” Their recorded activity is linked to the dark spheres of Bitcoin transactions, either connected to money laundering and purchasing illicit materials or to the Silk Road.
What Is a Bitcoin Whale?
A Bitcoin whale is any one person or a group of people/entities that have in their possession a large amount of Bitcoin. Considering the constant variation in its value, what was once considered to be an average amount may come to be worth a fortune in the future.
Still, not everyone is able to become a Bitcoin whale. Not only is Bitcoin rather expensive nowadays, when considering a direct purchase or exchange, but Bitcoin mining has also reached high maintenance demands. After all, who has the most Bitcoins if not the person actually generating them?
With Bitcoin mining imposing quite high electricity and equipment costs, the only people who can become Bitcoin whales today are likely to have already reached that title in the world of fiat currencies. Other than them, the early Bitcoin investors and miners make up the bulk of the Bitcoin whales population. A more precise division of the species is available in the paragraph below.
What Is Bitcoin Liquidity?
Liquidity in general is the ability of a particular asset to be turned into actual cash as soon as you require it. In this regard, a particular entity can have either low or high liquidity. The former denotes a number of fluctuations and instability in the asset’s market value, meaning there’s no standard regarding its conversion in cash. On the contrary, high liquidity means that the particular asset experiences little volatility and maintains a regular value in its market that allows owners, i.e., the biggest Bitcoin investors, to easily convert their asset into cash.
In terms of Bitcoin liquidity, specifically, this feature of the cryptocurrency depends on a number of factors. One of them is the stability of the actual exchange. A decade ago, there were only a few exchange platforms operating, while nowadays, the number amounts to about 50. They allow users to buy, sell, and store Bitcoins smoothly and seamlessly, without any concern regarding the safety of the currency.
Still, the first Bitcoin whale category—the community of active Bitcoin traders—is the one having the greatest impact on the cryptocurrency’s liquidity. Should they decide to dump a massive amount of BTC, it would result in a drop in value and could seriously harm even the best bitcoin exchanges. This, in turn, would cause any subsequent purchases made in the following moments to end up in a loss for the purchaser.
Alternatively, they tend to analyze the market trends, as well as the moods of the remaining Bitcoin owners, before taking a particular action. Thus, the “Bitcoin whale club” of active owners typically spreads out any massive “dumping” of Bitcoins into a large number of minute transactions, each containing only a small amount of the cryptocurrency.
Are Bitcoin Whales Waning?
With all this talk about Bitcoin whales and their investments, as well as the issue of Bitcoin liquidity, many are left wondering whether or not to take part in the crypto-craze. So far, the public has been of the opinion that these whales determine the market’s movements, assuming they would end up losing rather than profiting should they go into the business of Bitcoin investments.
While this may have been true in the past, current changes and tendencies in the global cryptocurrency marketplace have resulted in the waning of these crypto whales’ powers.
1. Initiatives Toward Greater Education
One key factor is the increased education regarding the matter of cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology, and Bitcoin in particular. This past year has additionally witnessed the proposed creation of particular dedicated centers and institutions working toward educating the masses about this phenomenon.
2. Better Regulatory Policies
Increased regulations from particular governments have been seen as the second factor gaining greater influence in the cryptocurrency’s liquidity, thus replacing the whales’ impact. As soon as an official government makes a move toward the adoption or rejection of Bitcoin, the market and Bitcoin whales’ fortunes undergo a respective change. Nowadays, certain countries have even made efforts to specialize particular legal bodies and lawyers on the topic in order to have equipped personnel working on its proper regulations.
3. Corporate Adoption
On a final note, there is a third factor influencing cryptocurrency’s adoption across individual corporations and retail locations. Online shops have recently become largely pro-Bitcoin in order to attract an even wider buying audience. Among the top brands supporting payments for their goods and services in Bitcoin, the following are definitely the most prominent equivalents to the list of Bitcoin whales in global e-commerce: Overstock, PayPal, Gap, Kmart, Dell, eBay, Amazon, Netflix, and the likes.
Financial institutions have alternately made use of the cryptocurrency’s trading activity, or the underlying blockchain technology. JP Morgan has thus launched their own in-house blockchain network, whereas Nasdaq and Goldman Sachs have directly entered the sphere of Bitcoin trading.
Top 5 Known Bitcoin Whales
Not all the Bitcoin whales have made their public debut, as the cryptocurrency is still considered to be in its infancy stage. Nevertheless, the most prominent and widely known Bitcoin whales are whole institutions, mostly hedge funds, dedicating their operations towards cryptocurrency trades and investment ventures. Among them, the top five Bitcoin whales are the following:
- Pantera Capital
- Bitcoins Reserve
- Binary Financial
- Coin Capital Partners
- Falcon Global Capital
The first institution on the list is Pantera Capital, established also as the first official US Investment Fund for Bitcoin and different blockchain operations. They are focused on driving blockchain entities into calmer waters, where they will reach greater stability and regulated status.
As for the second runner-up on our list, Bitcoins Reserve is an Australian company that has invested a lot of work and effort both into creating a functional investment mechanism, on the one hand, and educating the masses on all matters crypto, on the other. With such dedicated institutions taking the lead, there is firm belief that the time of Bitcoin whales and their massive centralized power has passed—new ways have been paved toward a global acceptance of BTC for mass use.