Lost treasures: where did several billion dollars worth of bitcoins go?

The volume of the cryptocurrency market is more than a hundred billion dollars We tried to count them
The bitcoin (BTC) exchange rate in September updated another historical high, transactions took place at around $5,000 per bitcoin, the capitalization of the most famous cryptocurrency in the world at its peak exceeded $80 billion, and the capitalization of the entire cryptocurrency market was $170 billion.

We are talking, first of all, about bitcoins (BTC) on wallets with lost access codes, bitcoin cash (BCC) on the same wallets, which were already born lost as a result of the hard fork, as well as a huge number of “bubbles” from illiquid tokens pumped up by the owners of the issue by trading robots among themselves.

At the current rate, that would be $200,000, distributed every ten minutes among a very small circle of miners whose technique was limited to personal computers. Blocks were naturally mined by enthusiasts, most notably the enigmatic creator of the technology.

Satoshi Nakamoto. At that time, bitcoin did not have the function of a means of payment, but was rather an experimental technology for storing data on pseudo-monetary transactions.  A 2010 exchange by programmer Laszlo Hanes of 10,000 bitcoins ($43 million at the current exchange rate) for two pizzas could be considered a great deal. This was the case until 2011.

Since bitcoin was just a fun abstraction in material terms, the keys to wallets were lost en masse, disappeared along with hard drives, thrown away with piles of unnecessary papers.  I made a mistake with the wallet code, sent it – you can’t return it.

How to identify “dead” wallets

At the moment, almost 90% of cryptocurrency wealth is stored in 0.8% of the total number of wallets (about 150 thousand pieces).  It is this group that includes a large number of wallets of bitcoin pioneers (I remind you that at first 50 BTC were given for each block), and it also contains the largest accumulation of “dead” coins.

We have developed a methodology for counting unused wallets: we consider them “dead” if there has not been a single outgoing transaction from them since 03/01/2013, when bitcoins received a recognized significant material value.

From March to April 2013, bitcoin rose from $31 to $198, showing its potential as a speculative instrument for the first time, and went through a series of ups and downs. The owner of an asset whose price has grown by about 150 times in four years, going through ups and downs.

making it a millionaire, then lowering it back to the “bottom”, with a high probability would want to fix at least part of the profit or somehow diversify risks, spreading bitcoins in different cold wallets. If for more than four years there has not been a single, even the smallest transaction from the wallet, it can be assumed with a high probability that the key to the wallet has been lost and these bitcoins will not return to the market.

Nevertheless, to test this thesis, we created a Dig Rate script that reads the blockchain online and, if it starts moving on at least one of the “dead” wallets of the founders, it will give a signal that Satoshi, who “owns” a significant part of these wallets , perhaps returned, and the bitcoins that he almost alone mined in 2009 could potentially flood into the market.

Exaggerated riches

Another 77% of the total number of wallets contain less than 0.01 bitcoin and can be considered technical: there is no point in storing them, since wallets can be generated completely free of charge and in unlimited quantities. In total, they hold only about 2000 BTC, so they have almost no effect on statistics.

The largest and only wallet containing more than 100,000 coins (122,000 BTC, approximately $500 million) belongs to the Biaffine exchange.

Many addresses with coins without movement were created after 2013 and some of them are also “dead”, however, it is not possible to accurately determine this percentage, since bitcoin was already of material value and they began to store it on “cold” wallets and distinguish a “lost” wallet from just a wallet without movement is impossible. The loss rate in such wallets, according to our estimates, is 4% of the total volume of coins.

Also, from the volume of the cryptocurrency market, you can safely subtract coins, the value of which is artificially inflated by issuers through the purchase and sale of robots from themselves in the hope of luring simple-minded investors in this way. In our opinion, a sign of such coins is a capitalization of less than $30 million and a total trading volume on the ten largest exchanges of less than $50,000 per day.

Such tokens can generally be considered illiquid, and investors have little chance of selling them in significant quantities. Moreover, in the near future, an influx of such illiquid assets, formed as a result of the ICO, is expected on the market. You can see which tokens meet the stated criteria and which do not by the composition of tokens in the structure of the DRI index, which is automatically recalculated every ten minutes.