Which Countries Hold the Most Bitcoins

Which Countries Hold the Most Bitcoins

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Which Countries Hold the Most Bitcoins: Their Sources and Selling Practices

We have identified which countries hold the most bitcoins and when they sell them. This information reveals how many bitcoins are in wallets controlled by various governments and explains how states became some of the world's largest cryptocurrency holders.


 

 

As a result of asset seizures from criminals, governments have become some of the largest holders of the leading cryptocurrency. While investors buy bitcoin on the open market with real money, states often acquire bitcoins through the confiscation of "digital gold."

 

Among all the bitcoin-holding countries, only El Salvador actively purchases and mines bitcoin. Since 2021, El Salvador has bought bitcoin and mines cryptocurrency through a state initiative called Volcano Energy, which uses geothermal sources for energy.

According to El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele, who published the official state bitcoin address, the country holds more than 5,800 BTC.

Neither the USA, China, the UK, nor Germany have ever officially bought cryptocurrency. However, through confiscations from criminals, the governments of major countries have managed to accumulate crypto-assets worth billions of dollars.

  • The Confiscation Market

According to Bitcointreasuries, which tracks public information and official statements from regulatory authorities, the combined crypto reserves of governments are estimated at around 560,700 BTC (over $32.2 billion).

The Bitcointreasuries list includes Ukraine and China, which together hold more than 236,000 BTC ($13.5 billion). Ukraine is listed with 46,351 BTC, though these assets likely belong to government officials as individuals, not the state itself. This number has appeared in declarations by Ukrainian officials.

China is second on the Bitcointreasuries list, with reserves estimated at 190,000 BTC. In 2020, Chinese authorities seized 195,000 BTC and other cryptocurrencies from the PlusToken financial pyramid scheme. At the time, it was officially announced that the seized assets would be sold, and the proceeds would go to the state treasury. However, no further statements or blockchain data have confirmed any movement of these coins.

The United States is considered the largest bitcoin holder among all countries. According to the analytical platform Arkham, the US government controls 213,200 BTC, 50,500 ETH, nearly $122 million in stablecoin USDT, and more. Most of the bitcoins were acquired through the seizure of assets from the Silk Road darknet marketplace, which was shut down in 2013.

Silk Road was the first anonymous marketplace for illegal goods, including drugs and counterfeit documents. Bitcoin was used for transactions on the platform. The total drug turnover on the site exceeded $210 million. Its founder, Ross Ulbricht, received a life sentence in the US in 2014.

The UK ranks third in the Bitcointreasuries list, with reserves estimated at 61,000 BTC, seized by authorities in January 2024.

Germany is also among the largest bitcoin-holding countries. In early 2024, authorities confiscated 50,000 coins linked to the activities of a pirate site that violated copyright laws in 2013. According to Arkham, the German government began moving these funds in June 2024. Through several outgoing transactions to Bitstamp, Coinbase, and Kraken, the government’s addresses now hold 40,300 BTC. The latest known series of transfers occurred on July 4, 2024, amounting to 3,000 BTC.

Other countries with small reserves of the first cryptocurrency include Bhutan (621 BTC), Venezuela (240 BTC), Finland (90 BTC), and Georgia (66 BTC), according to Bitcointreasuries.

Thus, the combined balance of confiscated bitcoin in "state accounts" significantly exceeds the balance of MicroStrategy, which publicly invested $7.6 billion in BTC, buying around 215,000 BTC.

  • Who Buys Confiscated Coins and at What Prices

Governments usually announce sales after the fact, making it unclear who and when exactly buys confiscated bitcoins. Like Chinese authorities, the US does not disclose bitcoin buyers, only general information. However, the American government does publish more information about the sale process.

Since 2014, the US Marshals Service has sold confiscated bitcoins through closed auctions. In late June, it was announced that the USMS, part of the Department of Justice responsible for asset confiscation, selected Coinbase Prime for storing and trading confiscated cryptocurrency.

Coinbase Prime is a brokerage platform that allows storing, buying, selling, and investing in cryptocurrencies. It is also the main partner for the majority of spot crypto ETFs. According to a Coinbase press release, the Prime service will provide the USMS with custody and trading services for cryptocurrency. No further details were published.

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