Bitcoin Billionaires: Currency’s Rise Rewarded Brave Investors Who Took Early Risks

  • The US and China have the most holders, but there is a paucity of data on holders in many corners of the world.
  • Currency founder and person of mystery Satoshi Nakamoto is rumored to own the largest amount of Bitcoin, holding around 10% of the Bitcoin in circulation.
  • Micree Zhan, Michael Novogratz, Changpeng Zhao, the Winklevoss twins and Chamath Palihapitiya are among the world’s largest holders of Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is the world’s largest cryptocurrency, with a market capitalization above $943 billion as of March 2021. It is considered by many to be one of the most successful digital currencies ever created and currently dominates the digital currency market with a whopping 61% share.

Bitcoin’s Biggest Holders

Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious brain behind Bitcoin, owns the world’s largest amount. And while Nakamoto’s actual share is unknown, many speculate the holding is equal to around 10% of all Bitcoins in circulation. Satoshi Nakamoto is a Japanese name, but there are indications “Satoshi Nakamoto” may be a pseudonym for the real person, or group, behind Bitcoin. As such Satoshi Nakamoto remains unidentified.

Identical twin brothers Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, otherwise known as the Winklevoss twins, own 180,000 Bitcoins, the most in the USA.

After a $65 million settlement with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg regarding disputes surrounding the social media network, the twins invested $11 million in Bitcoin during its early days back in 2013. Seeing their fortunes grow as Bitcoin’s value increased, they went on to establish Gemini, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrencies.

Micree Zhan, 42, owns the most Bitcoin in Asia. Zhan co-founded Bitmain, a company that manufactures application-specific integrated chips (ASIC) for mining Bitcoin.

A 2018 report by Horun named Micree Zhan as the richest Bitcoin billionaire in the world while Bloomberg ranked Zhan as the world’s richest self-made billionaire under the age of 40 in 2019. China has lots of Bitcoin millionaires, but Zhan stands out with a Bitcoin portfolio estimated to be worth $3.2 billion.

On the Flipside

Other Top Holders

Michael Novogratz is another person with an outsized personal Bitcoin holding. The ex-hedge fund manager is currently worth $3 billion, and a huge chunk of his fortune consists of Bitcoin. He currently leads Galaxy Holdings, a crypto trading company.

American Ross Ulbricht fell off the Bitcoin-rich list after the FBI seized thousands of Bitcoins from him for alleged involvement in shady dealings on the Silk Road. The FBI still holds his Bitcoin wallet to this day, and its estimated value is well over $100 million.

The American-Canadian Chamath Palihapitiya is another holder of massive amounts of Bitcoins. In 2011, he said publicly at a conference that he had 100,000 Bitcoin, and in 2013 he announced his intention to acquire additional Bitcoins valued between $10 million to $15 million at the time, which puts him among the world’s top Bitcoin holders.

Changpeng Zhao, founder of crypto exchange Binance, is said to hold considerable amounts of Bitcoin which has pushed his net worth over $1 billion. Chris Larsen, the founder of payment processor , is also a major holder of Bitcoin with a net worth of $7 billion. However, a bulk of his net worth comes from his holdings of the XRP cryptocurrency.

Hidden Riches

It is unclear who the top holders of Bitcoin are outside North America and Asia, especially in places like Africa and Europe, due to factors such as uncertainty regarding government policies, the lack of publicity surrounding Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general, and a lack of public records and transparency.

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