If you look around, it seems like everyone in the world is now buying bitcoin. Ever since the price surge started and all the news media started covering the rising price of bitcoin people want to buy more bitcoin. This raises a question – just how many people are using bitcoin in the world? We already know that there are around 16.7 million bitcoin in existence. How many people are these divided into? Let’s find out.
The first problem we run into is that bitcoin is an anonymous platform. When you give someone bitcoin or buy something from them you don’t share your name and you don’t get the other person’s name either. This is one of the major benefits of using bitcoins. It affords you an anonymity which you just do not find anywhere else. You get to do all of your transactions anonymously. Now, we know what you are wondering – how does anything get verified if you do not share your details which can be used to verify things?
Bitcoin has a genius solution to this. Whenever a user signs up for bitcoin they have to create a wallet. This virtual wallet is what they use to buy and sell bitcoins. Every bitcoin has a unique public key. So you can verify it by finding out the key of the wallet the bitcoin came from. You cannot connect the wallet to a real person, but you can verify the transaction and ensure that no fraud took place. The bitcoins go where they are supposed to because the keys are unique and no two people have the same key. There are around 14 million bitcoin wallets currently in the public ledger though if they keep growing at the same rate we will have 15 million wallets soon.
Now, you may think that this gives us a good estimate about the number of people using bitcoin, but there is a problem in using wallets to calculate bitcoin users. The problem is that a person isn’t limited to owning just one wallet. You can create as many wallets as you want, there is no restriction. Each wallet will have a unique key to it. Since the owner’s name isn’t registered with every wallet and isn’t made public, we cannot calculate the total number of wallets out there. Then there are the millions of people who created a wallet just to see what bitcoin was like but never really used bitcoin. Technically they are bitcoin users, but they aren’t really active so it isn’t right to count them.
Still, we can assume that there are easily around 10 million people using bitcoin right now, because most people will just have one wallet for their bitcoin. However, this is just an estimate. The only way to find out for sure would be to take identifying information from every bitcoin wallet owner but that would be a breach of the core values of bitcoin.