Stacking Sats? Small Bitcoin Holders on the Rise, Data Suggests

New data support the idea that small bitcoin investors are multiplying rapidly. Anecdotal evidence suggests much of that growth is happening in the U.S.

AccessTimeIconApr 28, 2020 at 8:17 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 8:34 a.m. UTC

New data support the assertion that small bitcoin investors are multiplying rapidly. And anecdotal evidence suggests that much of the growth is taking place in the U.S.

The number of network addresses holding at least 0.1 BTC has continued to hit new all-time highs, climbing to 3,010,784 on Monday, according to data from Glassnode. At the time of publication, 0.1 BTC is worth $770.

These addresses began to increase exponentially around mid-February, coinciding with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s suggestion to lawmakers that the central bank lacked sufficient firepower to fight the next recession.

Bitcoin addresses with at least 0.1 BTC.
Bitcoin addresses with at least 0.1 BTC.

Inferring definite conclusions about market activity from on-chain metrics is difficult. A user can control multiple addresses, for example, so not every new address represents a new investor. Also, the number of bitcoin wallets with at least 0.1 BTC has grown gradually but consistently after dipping significantly during early 2018, according to Glassnode.

But several U.S.-based bitcoin investment services corroborate the idea that the number of small bitcoin investors is growing at an increased rate.

First-time buyers

Swan Bitcoin, a bitcoin investment service based in Los Angeles that “launched in the middle of the COVID-19 panic” has seen “strong uptake” in customers who save “over $300 per month” in bitcoin on average, with some “measuring well into the thousands,” said Yan Pritzker, its co-founder and CTO.

Recently, “a number of Swan customers started raising their [bitcoin] purchase plans,” Pritzker said.

In bitcoin parlance, these users are “stacking sats” – a sat, or satoshi, being the smallest unit of the currency recorded on the blockchain, 0.00000001 BTC.

River Financial, a bitcoin brokerage based in San Francisco, has seen significant growth in customers buying “hundreds to a couple thousand dollars worth of bitcoin,” said Alexander Leishman, its founder and CEO. 

“The number of orders on our platform doubled in mid-March, and it has since sustained a significantly elevated rate.” he said. “Many of our clients have directly told me that they are buying bitcoin because the government is printing so much money. A lot of these people are buying bitcoin for the first time.”

Stimulus spending?

Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, shared a cryptic chart earlier in April indicating a spike in the number of Coinbase customers who deposit and execute buy orders for $1,200, the same amount in the stimulus checks sent by the Internal Revenue Service to middle- and lower-income adults. Coinbase is the largest U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange by traded volume, according to data aggregator CoinGecko.

Coinbase deposits and buy orders of $1,200
Coinbase deposits and buy orders of $1,200

When Armstrong tweeted the Coinbase customer data, $1,200 was worth roughly 0.17 BTC. 

“I’m not surprised at the increase in small purchases of bitcoin over the past few months,” said Anil Lulla, a former associate at Deutsche Bank and co-founder of Delphi Digital, a digital asset research firm. “It’s important to note, some of these people wrote off bitcoin in the past and have started to be intrigued, given the macro backdrop.”


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