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Just 376 Individuals Hold 33% of All Ether Cryptocurrency: Chainalysis

Yogita Khatri

A third of all ether, ethereum’s native cryptocurrency, is owned by just 376 whales as of May 1, new research indicates.

Blockchain analysis startup Chainalysis published a study on Wednesday, indicating that, while these 376 individuals control 33 percent of the circulating supply in 2019, that number is actually down from levels seen in 2016 and 2017.

The study also found these whales have “no meaningful” impact on the ETH price, but they do increase intraday volatility in the cryptocurrency market when they make large sell-offs.

Chainalysis defines whales as the top 500 holders of cryptocurrency, excluding services, who store their holdings off exchanges.  It found that ether whales currently account for just 7 percent of all transaction activity.
The study further found that the majority (around 60 percent) of these whales are not active traders, meaning they are holding their assets and are not regularly trading on cryptocurrency exchanges.

That means they consistently hold 25–40 percent of the circulating supply of ETH and account for only 5-18 percent of transaction volume, Chainalysis said.

Further, using a vector autoregression (VAR) model, commonly used in financial time series analysis, Chainalysis found that ETH prices follow bitcoin (BTC) prices. That is, on average, a 1 percent increase in BTC price yesterday leads to a 1.1 percent increase in ETH price today. The study, however, did not find a “statistically significant” impact of BTC prices on ETH’s intraday volatility.

The study also analyzed the impact of whales sending and receiving funds to and from exchanges using a VAR model. It found that funds sent do impact volatility but not price, while funds received have no impact either on prices or intraday volatility.

“These preliminary findings are consistent with the literature on stock market prices and volatility,” Chainalysis concluded. “Academics have found that large anomalous fluctuations in traded volumes of particular stocks, notably the S&P 500, tend to impact volatility and not price levels.”

Ethereum image via Shutterstock; charts via Chainalysis

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