It began as an eclectic nine page document posted to a small, obscure mailing list that discussed cryptography and other abstruse subjects.
Today, on the tenth anniversary of its publication, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” has since spawned a $200 billion USD industry that, arguably, still sits in its embryonic stages, with a wider public that is still trying to determine its longer term impact. And that, according to some, will require at least another decade in order to be truly understood.
“Pandora’s Box Has Been Opened”
“Pandora’s Box has been opened,” stated crypto advocate John McAfee at last week’s Shape the Future conference in Hong Kong. It is arguably the most fitting phrase for blockchain technology which has opened innumerable possibilities – many of which will bring benefit, some of which will not, but all of which will make for an interesting ride ahead.
In the meantime, as we continue to watch where Blockchain tech is taking us, we have complied a small list of some of the more interesting facts on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin’s original creators hold 980,000 BTC
There are just under 1 million bitcoin which continue to lie in cold storage from the original mining operations which underpinned the Bitcoin network in its infancy. The general assumption is that their private keys still lie in the hands of Satoshi Nakamoto – the pseudonym given to Bitcoin’s original creator(s).
At Bitcoin’s peak of $20,000 in mid December 2017, their total amounted to just under $20 billion USD, seeing Satoshi briefly enter the Forbes Top 50 Rich list.
That works out at about $6.7 million USD for each line of C++ source code which comprised the original Bitcoin protocol. Of course, the figure is purely academic as not one single bitcoin has ever moved out of Satoshi’s wallets.
50 Million – the number of crypto-holders
No-one is in a position to determine just how many people worldwide hold cryptocurrency at this point in time. But at least one estimate has put that figure at 50 million.
Men are twice as likely as women to own crypto-currency, and crypto proficiency is thought to be highest amongst Japanese and South Koreans where just over 10% of the population in both countries are thought to own cryptocurrency of some description. In the UK that figure is 9%, as is the case for the US.
Bitcoin.org is older than the Bitcoin Whitepaper
The Bitcoin.org domain name was purchased anonymously in August of 2009 – two months before the Bitcoin white-paper was released, suggesting that the planning of BItcoin as both a name and brand was much longer in the making.
Thirty Eight – the Number of Current Bitcoin Forks
Coinmarketcap lists over 2000 cryptocurrencies as of writing, and of these no less than thirty eight are Bitcoin forks. Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Dark, Bitcoin Private, Bitcoin Green, Bitcoin Diamond, Bitcoin Atom…the list goes on.
Some of these forks offer genuine advantages over the original Bitcoin – greater privacy, for example, or reduced transaction fees. Most, however, are simply pointless, opportunistic – not to mention successful – get rich quick schemes taking advantage of uninformed retail investors.
It is thought that the ability to fork was consciously baked into the Bitcoin protocol by Satoshi himself. It is not clear if this is because he or she foresaw the acerbic disputes that have often dominated the Bitcoin landscape, or if it was simply to facilitate democratic choice in how a digital currency should be managed.
Two Million Percent Return
The percentage of your return on Bitcoin, had you bought at its cheapest when it first became available on the exchanges and subsequently sold at its peak. However, the number of people who actually achieved these returns is small.
One organisation who didn’t too badly out of Bitcoin, however, is Wikileaks who began accepting BTC as a means of donation from late 2010 when the whistle-blowing organisation was blacklisted by Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and other payments processors as a result of a request from the US government.
Julian Assange sent out a tweet on October of last year, ironically thanking the US government for the initiative which is thought to have resulted in a $25 million USD windfall for the organisation.