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Who are the Bitcoin Whales Amidst Banking Acquisitions?

As banks accumulate Bitcoin, propelling its price toward record highs, the identity of other major players or 'Bitcoin whales' in the market becomes a pertinent question.
Financial powerhouses like Grayscale, BlackRock, and Fidelity have invested billions into Bitcoin, establishing themselves as dominant whales in the space.

Bitcoin's design ensures a cap of 21 million coins, with 19 million already mined. Many of these are likely permanently out of circulation, with estimates of lost coins ranging from 3 million to 6 million due to forgotten access details or criminal proceeds left untouched.

Elliptic and Chainalysis suggest that 3.15 million bitcoins are potentially dormant for a decade or more, while conservative estimates place the count of lost bitcoins around 2.4 million or 11%.

Cryptocurrency exchanges, analogous to banks, are estimated to hold approximately 2.3 million bitcoins. Major players include Binance, Bitfinex, Coinbase, Robinhood, and OKX. However, exchange custody carries risks, as seen with the FTX collapse, and conflicts with Bitcoin's decentralized ethos.

Individuals holding over 10,000 bitcoins are considered whales, representing approximately 8% of total Bitcoin. Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin's mysterious creator, is believed to possess around 1.1 million coins, or 5% of the supply.

The entrance of Spot Bitcoin ETFs by US firms further integrated Bitcoin into regulated financial systems, with significant coin acquisitions by entities like Grayscale, BlackRock, and Fidelity.

Law enforcement seizures from cyber-crimes have resulted in government holdings of Bitcoin, yet to be auctioned. Personalities like Michael Saylor and companies like Block One are notable for their substantial holdings of the cryptocurrency. Mining companies also possess tens of thousands of bitcoins, despite environmental controversies surrounding the mining process.

Notable individuals, including Tim Draper and Michael Saylor, have made significant personal investments in Bitcoin. Companies like Tesla, Block, and ventures by billionaire investors continue to hold and invest in Bitcoin.

Bitcoin adoption varies, with estimates suggesting that the general public holds around 10.5 million bitcoins, constituting 50% of existing coins. The user base, as of June 2023, is estimated at 81.7 million, representing 1% of the global population. The current Bitcoin value surge is attributed more to whale activity by banks and large investors rather than increased retail participation.

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