Do whales control the Bitcoin market?

3개월 전

The beauty of Bitcoin is that is is decentralized. It is supposedly there to enable those who are outside of the banking, economic and finance sector of Wall St and the stock market to also access some degree of sovereignty without the need for intermediaries like banks or brokers. You control your own currency, coin and wallet keys.
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Yet as in all financial markets, Bitcoin seems to also attract whales. These are the massively rich who can buy up loads of coin like a whale gulping up mouthfuls of plankton in one foul swoop. Whether they are wallet holders who have been involved in accumulating Bitcoin since the beginning and simply "hodl" until now, thus accumulating massive profit without lifting a finger, or whether they are part of the already wealthy who simply kept on buying the dip, and accumulated year after year, one thing is for certain, there are some huge Bitcoin hodlers and accumulators out there.

So, is Bitcoin really decentralized or are their big wallets already controlling the market and the limited amount of 21 million Bitcoin ever in existence? The good news is that the blockchain upon which Bitcoin runs is an open ledger and can be seen by anyone who wishes to in this transparent industry. We also happen to have some avid sleuths and full time researchers in the crypto space who are publishing their findings all the time for us to inspect. One such organization has just published their recent findings if you want to know more at

According to them, 20% of all Bitcoin ever mined is owned by 488 whales. About 18 million out of the total 21 million has been mined so far and there will never be more than 21 million, so it will only increase in value. Added to that we have 33% of the second most traded cryptocurrency, Ethereum owned by 376 whales by 2019. This sounds a little like a monopoly or centralized domination and control of the supply, leading me to think that this decentralized theory of cryptocurrency may have been hijacked. And it may well have been already, but the ray of hope is that the amount of Ethereum owned by whales is down from the 47% owned by those whales in 2016. This means that the whale domination has dropped almost 15% in the past three years.

To find out even more, I went to another interesting website that you might like for data called Here we can see the top 100 wallet addresses of the biggest Bitcoin hodlers of all currently. Actually we can see every single Bitcoin wallet listed, even yours and mine. The entire list is there by the looks of it. That's how open and transparent the Bitcoin blockchain ledger is. We can see the wallets and how much they contain and when any Bitcoin is moved and to which other wallet it is moved, but we can't tell who owns the wallets. "Aye, there's the rub", as Hamlet said in his soliloquy "to BTC or not to BTC."
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Pis from pixabay

Still at least we can observe the movement of the Bitcoin and all the other coins on their respective blockchains, except perhaps for Monero and other privacy coins. With Monero you can find the block details all listed but no wallets, no addresses hodling Monero because it is private, thanks to the South African Monero founder, "Fluffy Pony" who took privacy to be more important than anything.

But back to Bitcoin – in the "rich list" you can see the top wallets by net worth and Bitcoin amount held, and the top 5 wallets are all exchanges, namely Bittrex with 121 805 BTC, Binance 107 432 BTC, Bitstamp 102 848 BTC, Huobi 98 040 BTC and another Binance 89 303 BTC. Scattered down the top 100 list are other exchanges all named and labeled for the public to see, but interspersed in between are the whales, anonymous owners of major amounts of Bitcoin, some of which has never been moved. Take number seven in the top 100. This wallet was created in March 2011 and has just under 80 000 BTC in it, the last of which went in just three days ago. And none have ever left. This wallet has been accumulating since 2011 until today and just hodling, though bull and bear markets.

This kind of wallet or Bitcoin investor doesn't affect the price since they don't flood the market with any of their Bitcoin, but some whales sometimes do, and the price of Bitcoin can be affected as a result, to our detriment as plankton swimming around the whales in the crypto ocean. There are other websites with observers tracking whale moves who will inform us every time a large move of Bitcoin from one wallet to another occurs. Especially if it's to an exchange.

Further good news is that, according to the website, the Ether whales only really account for 7% of all economic activity on the Ethereum blockchain, the rest are all simply hodlers. So the top ETH hodlers don't really affect the price and we can presume the same for BTC, except on that odd occasion. A certain percentage will indeed make waves in the market when they splash about. It's actually whale season here where I live now on the south coast of Africa as every year around this time in winter the whales arrive in my bay for calving. I wish the crypto whales were as predicatble.
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With the whale dominance in ETH declining from 47% down to 33% since 2016 it is a good sign that centralization of crypto holdings is not growing, and as the market matures over the coming years more and more big institutional investors will buy in and dilute the dominance somewhat, spreading the supply further out to more wallet holders. The conclusion seems to be that although whales can affect intraday volatility considerably on the odd occasion that they dump a massive amount of cryptocurrency on the market via an exchange for trading, they don't affect the long term price of the particular coin itself. This apparently concurs with traditional stock market action too over the course of history, so it seems that we need not fear the whales all that much. The real risk is more likely from the sharks who lie in wait for non-discerning and naive investors upon whom they pounce with scams and ponzi schemes galore. Bitconnect 2.0 anyone? Apparently they're on the rise so surfers and investors beware.

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Any time there is money to be made, you can be sure that someone, somewhere will try game the system. I don't see crypto as being that different from the stock market, hedge funds, etc. There are people who make money by actually providing some of value (say cleaning dishes or inventing a new drug) and those make money without providing any real value (e.g., much of Wall Street, traders, etc.).

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Yes the traders only make value for themselves.

From my understanding, a lot of the whales are exchanges, mutual funds, and other forms of 'collective' ownership. Technically these aren't individuals even though only one or two people may have access to the keys. Sure they could steal it, but I would like to think by the time they are managing a whale sized BTC fund, they are probably fairly well known.


Yes good point, many of the big wallets are corporations of some sort I. Hundreds of millions of dollars per wallet and some have more than one wallet. The overall ownership of Bitcoin in the world is still quite small, a few million people perhaps.


I think it is also important to compare to other cryptocurrencies. For example how many wallets control 50%. BTC is one of the better ones. And issie with BTC is dead wallets. We all know steemit tron eos bn xlm have massively centralized controllers compared to btc.

Even in america distribution isn't that good for USD.

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¡Hola, gracias por la información-saludos!


My pleasure sir.

The big guys will always try to control whatever system there is

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Yes good point, many of the big wallets are corporations of some sort I. Hundreds of millions of dollars per wallet and some have more than one wallet. The overall ownership of Bitcoin in the world is still quite small, a few million people perhaps.

What I'd like to know is: does bitcoin, or ether affect alts? I'm new to all this so am trying to find out things. Thanks for this post

Whales certainly affect the Bitcoin market. I don't think they control it completely. It's a complex economy because the HODLers don't really affect it. As long as they hold onto their coin it is a hedge against volatility. It's when certain whales--and I think John McAfee is likely one of them--drop huge dollars into the pool, that's when you see the price start to move. And when they remove it, it goes the other direction. In that sense, they influence the market. But what happens on a bull, or bear run, is non-whale investor sentiment takes over. A smart whale can drop big dollars in and watch what happens, then sell out at the top of the market and watch it fall again. In that sense, there may be some limited control, but it's not total control because all other investors can choose to get in or out. Mass sentiment on the extreme can move the market the same way one whale can.

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