Five or six years ago, the majority of the world’s population was still unaware of the full potential and use cases of cryptocurrencies. All that started to change with the emergence of crypto exchange platforms and the increased attention they received in the media.
This was our incentive to try to find out whether this publicity has led to massive adoption or have cryptocurrencies remained a too-good-to-be-true alternative to fiat currencies.
In this text, we’ll give you a brief account of the history and growth of crypto assets in order to find out just how many people own cryptocurrency today. As a bonus, we’ve included our top five cryptocurrencies that our Coin IRA customers can invest in.
Let’s get started!
Cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency created and secured with cryptography. It’s mined on a peer-to-peer network using a cryptographic proof of work consensus mechanism that involves a complex algorithm called a hash function.
The cryptocurrency transactions are recorded and stored on the blockchain, an impenetrable and irreversible digital ledger. Organized in this way, the electronic payment system isn’t regulated by any central authority and isn’t tied to any bank or government institution. This makes crypto transactions faster, cheaper, more private, and more secure.
Why Do People Use Cryptocurrency?
Let’s take a look at some of the main reasons people are attracted to cryptocurrencies:
- Cryptocurrency transactions are faster.
Cryptocurrencies are transferred almost instantaneously from sender to receiver because there are no intermediaries to cause delays and no institutions to give their approval. Some cryptocurrencies are so scalable that they can process up to 3,000 transactions per second.
- Cryptocurrency transactions are cheaper.
Financial institutions typically charge hefty fees on their services, especially when it comes to international payments. Crypto transactions, on the other hand, only incur a small network fee for the miner.
- More privacy and security.
When you’re making a money transfer using cryptocurrency, the transaction is stored on the blockchain and anyone can see it online. However, instead of your full name, the transaction shows an encrypted address called a public key. To sign the transactions and manage your balance you use a unique private key.
- There’s no risk of inflation.
Most of the cryptocurrencies are hard-capped to create scarcity and protect them from inflation scenarios, unlike the unlimited supply of fiat currencies.
Cryptocurrency Growth Through the Years
Bitcoin, the world’s first cryptocurrency, emerged on the market in January 2009. However, it wasn’t until 2013 that the crypto market and crypto industry started to take off.
Around this time, software engineers and crypto enthusiasts started launching both altcoins (“alternatives to Bitcoin”) and cryptocurrency exchanges, i.e. digital marketplaces where you can buy, sell, trade, or transfer crypto assets. We can say that the fintech industry has been booming ever since.
These digital assets were enjoying a quiet but steady growth until 2017 when Bitcoin’s price suddenly skyrocketed to its all-time high of $20,000. “The year of the cryptocurrency”, as the crypto community now refers to 2017, saw the emergence of over 700 new altcoins.
Before 2017, the total crypto market capitalization (calculated by multiplying the total number of Bitcoins in circulation by the Bitcoin price) had been $18 billion. In 2018, this number climbed to over $128 billion. Today, the cryptocurrency market cap is approaching $500 billion!
How Many People Own Cryptocurrency Today?
In 2018, Dalia Research conducted a survey of 29,492 internet-connected respondents from the US, Germany, the UK, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, China, and India on cryptocurrencies. They found out that 3 out of 4 respondents have heard about cryptocurrencies, while half of them know what cryptocurrencies are.
But what about the number of people who own cryptocurrencies?
To arrive at the approximate number of crypto owners, we can take into account the number of cryptocurrency or blockchain wallets. According to Statista, in October 2020, there were over 55 million blockchain wallets. However, this doesn’t mean that there are 55 million blockchain wallet holders because an individual can have multiple wallet addresses.
One of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges, Coinbase, has recently published a new report in which it claims that over 35 million people in over 10 countries are using their platform. Therefore, we might conclude that the number of people owning cryptocurrency today stands between 35 and 55 million.
The Most Popular Cryptocurrencies Today
According to Finder, every three seconds there’s a new post about Bitcoin on social media. Launched back in 2009, Bitcoin (BTC) remains the number one cryptocurrency both in terms of mainstream adoption, price worth, and market capitalization. People like to invest in Bitcoin for a number of reasons – to diversify their portfolio, to wait for future price surges and then sell their coins, or simply because they prefer this currency over fiat ones as it gives them more privacy.
The second-largest cryptocurrency on the market, Ethereum or Ether (ETH), was launched in 2015 by Vitalik Buterin. Ethereum is more than just an attractive investment or another currency to purchase goods with. It’s also a utility token that drives the fintech industry forward.
Ethereum’s founder discovered the potential of blockchain technology and created the first self-executable contract called a smart contract that can be used to build decentralized applications and organizations in which Ethereum tokens are used to execute different functions.
Litecoin (LTC) was designed by Charlie Lee, a former Google employee, who became aware of some of the challenges that Bitcoin was facing on the road to becoming a regular medium of exchange. He realized that Bitcoin lacks scalability, so he designed a new coin that processes up to 56 transitions per second. Litecoin is best used for small everyday purchases, i.e. micro-payments, which is why a lot of people refer to this asset as the silver to Bitcoin’s gold.
Ripple (XRP) was launched in 2012 by fintech experts who wanted to design a coin that would make international money transfers faster and cheaper. It doesn’t make much sense that in a digital era when information is shared from one corner of the world to another in less than a second, it takes days to process a cross-border payment. Therefore, it’s no wonder that many institutional investors and central banks such as Yes Bank, Union Credit, UBS, NBAD, Santander, and others support this project.
ZCash (ZE) was created in 2016 by the developer Zooko Wilcox. What’s unique about this cryptocurrency is the extra privacy of its anonymous or “shielded” transactions that are part of the network’s “Zero-Knowledge Proof” protocol. Thanks to this protocol, the Zcash blockchain hides the public address of the sender and receiver.
All of the cryptocurrencies mentioned above and more are custodian-approved for Cryptocurrency IRAs. If you’re curious about crypto investing and want to learn more, visit our website or call Coin IRA today to speak with a Cryptocurrency Specialist who can answer all of your questions and show you why it’s still not too late to join the masses of investors riding the cryptocurrency wave.