22 Aug 2018 · 2 min read

How Many Bitcoins Does Satoshi Have?

If you’ve been wondering how many bitcoins Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious creator of Bitcoin, himself owns, you're not alone - a new research by the BitMEX exchange has attempted to answer exactly this question. Despite they recognize that their "analysis is far from perfect", the researchers estimate that Satoshi had mined up to 700,000 bitcoins in 2009, or less than previously estimated a million of coins.

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The BitMEX research blog specializes in analysis of the crypto space. This time, their attempt at finding out how much a single dominant miner could have generated back in the beginnings of the cryptocurrency was inspired by blockchain researcher Sergio Demian Lerner. In 2013, he claimed that Satoshi had mined a million bitcoins in 2009.

“Our analysis is far from perfect and we used a variety of methods [...] We will have made many errors and we do not claim our methodology is robust or scientific. However, as far as we are aware, this is the first attempt to allocate every block in 2009 as belonging to the apparent single entity or not,” the blog states.

What they found was that up to August 2009, there is a pattern indicating a single dominant miner, but after this period, the pattern breaks down. However, this pattern could also indicate several miners with similar setups: “Each miner is not independent, in the sense that they are likely to be running the same software or could be using the same popular hardware, which could produce the same pattern.”

There is still strong evidence of a dominant miner in 2009. However, the blog goes on to say that the evidence is “far less robust than many have assumed.” Also, it is quite possible that the dominant miner was not Satoshi at all, “although we know Satoshi mined block 9, which we have allocated to the dominant miner in our analysis.”

In short, even if Satoshi was the dominant miner from 2009 - he probably didn’t go for a whole million, as “600,000 to 700,000 bitcoin is a better estimate,” according to BitMEX.

However, even if the number is more or less accurate, it would be even harder to find out how many coins Satoshi owns now.

"Whoever the dominant miner was, it is of course possible the keys have been lost or discarded by now," the researchers added.

It includes adresses which belong to exchanges. E.g., At the time of writing, there are 186,182 bitcoins in the Bitfinex cold wallet. Source: Bitinfocharts.com.