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Is there an estimate on how many people in total own some cryptocurrencies?

How is this distributed among bitcoin and altcoins?

  • nobody knows really and it would be really hard to measure because an individual can have multiple bitcoin addresses. – Luca Matteis May 16 '15 at 10:08
  • @LucaMatteis true, I was wondering if there is another way apart from analyzing the addresses? – Doug Peters May 16 '15 at 10:46
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    There must be a way to estimate this. There is so much data on # of transactions, # of wallets, # of hashes per second (miners could possibly indicate popularity or adoption), publicly disclosed data from Bitcoin companies and online sales. Do some crazy math, average, and combined with real time monitoring like mapping bitcoin addresses to IP addresses (thanks somesh), I bet you could get a good estimate. – Scott May 16 '15 at 16:01
  • Very similar to bitcoin.stackexchange.com/questions/731/… – Nick ODell May 16 '15 at 16:30
  • I've removed the tag estimate, as it described the type of question instead of the topic of the question. – Murch May 18 '15 at 9:51
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As Luca mentioned it is really difficult to measure, but there is a way to map Bitcoin addresses to IP address under certain conditions. Refer this paper

Title : An Analysis of Anonymity in Bitcoin using P2P Network Traffic.

Authors : Philip Koshy, Diana Koshy, and Patrick McDaniel.

Note: It analyses relay pattern of transactions. It cannot analyse transactions that are already confirmed in blocks.

Some companies publicly disclose their data and it might be possible to come up with a ballpark estimate. Blockchain.info shares the number of wallets used in their My Wallet service.

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It is next to impossible to estimate.

Consider this scenario: You live in a deserted place with just phones/post offices. Using just pen & paper/calculator you derive a fresh new bitcoin address and its private key. You call any of your friends, who could be anywhere in the world, who have internet and you give them this address. They make a transaction sending satoshis worth buying milk and relay it to the network.

You could then go give away your privatekey to a milkman for buying milk. If he doubts you he can call any of his friends in the world who have internet and can confirm that that address holds balance.

You and the milkman are untraceable unless your friends decide to give you up. No technology can do it. Well, maybe some neuro-tech can scan their brains but ..

I could travel across borders holding my money in my mind.

  • Note that the milkman (or his friends) must transact the funds to a new address otherwise you, or someone else you might have given the private key to, can do it instead. This makes the milkman somewhat traceable (or his friends, at least). – Highly Irregular Oct 21 '17 at 3:25
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As of Today, BlockChain's MyWallet has about 3.75M users. Adding this with CoinBase's user base of 2M and Multibit's 1.5M. That makes about 7.25M Bitcoin users. Note that actual number of users may be much above this figure as you can figure out all that is needed to encrypt the data is just a key!

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  • Notice that there might be considerable overlap among these sets of users, which might put the actual number of users quite a bit lower. – cdecker May 17 '15 at 11:33
  • Exactly! Nothing can be exactly measured. – Sharad Gautam May 17 '15 at 11:35

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