In brief

  • Analysis of Bitcoin historic volume shows that nearly $10 trillion of transfer volume has been settled on the Bitcoin blockchain.
  • There are now more than 1 million active BTC addresses, from just 50,000 in 2013.
  • Bitcoin transfer volume has more than doubled since 2017.

DeFi and Ethereum get most of the spotlight these days when it comes to changing the global financial landscape, but Bitcoin is still far ahead in terms of how much wealth is truly being moved.

The original cryptocurrency, which has spent the past month breaking price records, is nearing another milestone: More than $10 trillion in value has changed hands on the Bitcoin blockchain since it launched in 2009, according to analysis of Glassnode data by Yassine Elmandjra of ARK Invest.

The increase in Bitcoin’s transfer volume has been fueled by at least two main factors. The first is the huge increase in BTC price since 2013, when there were about 50,000 active Bitcoin addresses and the end-of-year price was about $790. That makes it far easier for those holding even a few BTC to help push the total transfer volume up, to say nothing of those transferring hundreds or thousands of coins at once.

The second factor has been the gradual increase in trading volume brought on as more and more users learned about Bitcoin and got in on the action. Since 2013, the number of active Bitcoin addresses has surged from about 50,000 to approximately 1 million, a 20x increase, according to blockchain data provider Coin Metrics. All those new participants are buying, selling, and perhaps even trading Bitcoin, all of which adds up to increased overall transaction volume.

The total transfer volume got a boost from the bull run in 2017, rising nearly $2 trillion in less than a year. Since then, transfer volume has been on a surprisingly steady march toward $10 trillion, which seems likely to be achieved in the first month of 2021.

Bitcoin may not be the world reserve currency yet, and high transaction fees will still be an issue for those of us transacting in sub-six figure amounts. But it’s difficult to deny something big is going on when a new financial product moves $10 trillion in little more than a decade. Then again, maybe it’s just a fad.