Cryptocurrency isn’t Mainstream. It’s for the 0.0135%

Cryptocurrency is for the 0.0135% but I don’t mean this in the sense of the elitist 0.0135%.

There are likely only a few million people with any stake in any blockchain whatsoever. Setting aside the developing world (often referred to as the ‘Other 7 Billion’) the population of the developed world is estimated to be 1.2 billion people. According to the website BitcoinRichList there are roughly 4 million on-chain bitcoin addresses with 0.01 (equivalent to $5.75) or more worth of Bitcoin in existence.

Let’s do some simple math with a generous estimate that 10 million people own bitcoin (or any other kind of cryptocurrency):

10,000,000 / 1,200,000,000 = 1/1,200 = 0.8%

So… generous estimates say that less than 1 out of every 100 people in the developed world might own any amount of on-chain cryptocurrency. If you consider the entire world population (7.4 billion) the calculation goes as follows:

 10,000,000 / 7,400,000,000 = 1/7,400 = 0.0135%

Comparisons to the Internet

In 1997 the developing world’s internet utilization percentage was roughly 0% and the developed world was roughly 11%. (Source: International Telecommunications Union). Today these figures are estimated to be 32% and 78%.


Internet users per 100 inhabitants.

So What Classifies Mainstream?

From my own qualitative experience, I would portend that the arrival of AOL & instant messaging began the true mainstream internet boom in the late 90’s. At that  time (1998) the developed world had a utilization percentage of roughly 17% and the developing world was at only 1%.

Given the utility of bitcoin as a store of value, we may find the technology leapfrogs traditional banking infrastructures and finds more initial utility in the developing world. Could it be that the utilization percentage in the developing world eventually outpaces that of the developed world? And at what percentage would we characterize this adoption as ‘mainstream’?

If we look to the growth of the internet as a benchmark one could assume 15% of either the developing or the developed world would be a meaningful benchmark. If this is the case, bitcoin still has a long way to go. Till then, it will be great to see it continue to innovate, improve and become more anti-fragile.