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I am analyzing bitcoin blockchain data, I have the addresses corresponding to a set of exchanges (extracted from walletexplorer) and I'm looking at the transactions made from and to those addresses.

At the beginning I thought these transactions to exchanges' addresses corresponded to people selling their bitcoins (most probably for USD) when the transaction was made FROM an outside address TO an exchange addresses, or to people buying bitcoins when it was on the opposite direction.

Am I right on this statement? Or am I missing something?

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Yes, you are partially right as well as wrong.

All the transactions which comes to a wallet exchange address not only accounts a single user deposit, but also can be multiple user inputs or even exchange fees collected during a period of time. Some of the wallets are also cold storage ones, which are used for much better security of the funds held by an exchanger.

Similarly, for the withdraws can be bundle of withdraws by many user, also many of the employees in these company gets payment in BTC only. Also, as MeshCollider said, some can also be a transfer to the cold storage ones.

  • Nice, at least it's gonna work to have some estimation of money moving in and out exchanges. – El pocho la pantera Oct 22 '17 at 15:40
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Its not really possible to tell for sure, but if somehow you found a list of some deposit addresses for an exchange, then yes its likely that transactions sent TO the exchange were sent so that those users could exchange the bitcoin for another currency. And likewise, transactions FROM an exchange might be withdrawals from users' accounts. But each exchange might manage the funds sent differently, some might be transfers to cold wallets, or payments to service providers / employees for example, there could be many things you haven't considered.

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