Just 376 people hold a third of all Ether, the cryptocurrency that powers the Ethereum blockchain, according to new research by Chainalysis Inc.
Large holders are known in the crypto market as “whales,” which Chainalysis defines as individuals who hold their assets in digital wallets and not on an exchange, Kim Grauer, a senior economist at the company, said in an interview. By comparison, 448 people own 20 percent of all Bitcoin, she said.
Chainalysis also looked at the effect Ether whales have on price, and found that large holders don’t move their cryptocurrency often.
“The majority of whales aren’t traders,” she said. “They’re mostly holding.”
The study also found that when a whale moves Ether from a wallet to an exchange, there is a small but statistically significant effect on market volatility.
Grauer plans to turn the research into an academic paper analysing the effect of large Ether holders on the market and will discuss the data Wednesday at the Consensus blockchain conference in New York.
“We’re excited to bring the models that have been applied to the stock market to cryptocurrencies,” she said. The data on Ether was collected from early 2016 to the end of April, before Ether and Bitcoin surged in recent weeks.
“It’s unfortunate this bull run didn’t happen a month ago to be part of our analysis,” she said, adding that the link between Bitcoin’s price and that of Ether backs up their findings.
— With assistance by Dave Liedtka