This is revealed by Glassnode, which shows a graph of how the number of addresses with at least 1,000 bitcoins has changed over time, as extracted from the public blockchain.
Ignoring the early years, from 2014 onwards this number has remained almost constantly above 1,500 addresses, with a first peak at almost 1,900 in mid-2016.
After a dip that lasted until September 2018, it began to grow again, surpassing 2,000 for the first time in mid-2019.
It has continued to rise since then, hitting a new high of 2,425 two days ago.
Note that in recent weeks it has literally surged, when compared to the growth trend of previous months, probably due to the entry of several institutional investors in this market.
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However, let’s remember that, on the one hand, this number also includes many addresses that belong to exchanges, where BTCs owned by users are actually kept, while on the other hand, many investors are used to split their BTCs on different addresses.
Therefore it would be incorrect to say that in the world there are less than 2,500 people who own at least 1,000 BTC in their wallets, but it is still possible to say that the whale addresses are clearly increasing.
Incidentally, collectively these 2,425 addresses hold about 8 million BTC, out of a total of 18.6 million (i.e. less than half), while 52% of the world’s existing BTC is stored on addresses that have between 1 and 1,000 BTC.
The fact that they are increasing the number of bitcoins stored on huge addresses, given that 1,000 BTC is equivalent to about $35 million, suggests that there may be an attempt underway by large institutional investors to rake bitcoins into the market to store them for the long term. If this is the case, it would generate a shortage of supply in the markets, resulting in a higher price.
Another very interesting aspect of Glassnode’s chart is the comparison between the current data, with BTC at $35,000, and that of, for example, 2018, when the price fell below $3,500 after being at $20,000.
At that time, the number of addresses with at least 1,000 BTC never fell below 1,600, however, and even went back up to 1,800 right at the time of the collapse below $3,500.
In other words, there seem to be very few whales ready to sell large amounts of bitcoin on the market when the price drops, although one should always remember that these numbers include exchange addresses.