Cryptocoins have introduced the world to a sleeve of new slang terms into every day’s conversions: FOMO, shill, FUD, Rekt, whales, apeing, degen, mooning, pump’n’dump, bagholder, flippening, cryptosis, etc. The list goes on, and each of those terms would require a dedicated blog entry. The topic of today’s article is the term HODL. The term refers to a cryptocoin owner who, rather than selling her assets (for instance in case of sudden price drops), she prefers to hold her assets, manifesting her belief in the value of the cryptocoin itself. Originally used in a Bitcoin forum in 2013 (you can still read the original post, see here https://bit.ly/2SCSPTO), it was henceforth largely adopted by the cryptocoin community at large, be it for Bitcoin or other cryptocoins.

Apart from the anecdotal origin of the term, one could wonder whether or not HODLers (i.e., those who hold) exist or not in practice. To start our investigation, we look at the most extreme form of HODLers, i.e., Bitcoin addresses that have only accumulated BTC assets and never actually sold any since the genesis block. To find such addresses, I ran a simple experiment downloading a full copy of the entire Bitcoin blockchain (a time-consuming but free operation), to be analyzed offline. A couple of interesting facts emerge from this analysis.

At the time of the experiment (24.08.21), the Bitcoin blockchain consists of 387 GB of data, with approximately 144 new blocks added every day. The first block (i.e., the genesis block, see https://btc.com/block/0) was added on September 1st, 2009 at 03:54:25, and the chain length now approximately consists of 698,000 blocks. Overall, there are 38,409,606 addresses holding some amount of BTC (including some with a zero balance).

The majority of the addresses (50.95%) are actually holding very little BTC, at most 0.001 BTC (approximately 44 CHF). Many of these addresses are not active (no input or output transactions since years). While these are technically HODLers, the speculation is that the owners simply lost their keys, and those BTCs are now lost forever (read a related article from the NYT about this topic: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/12/technology/bitcoin-passwords-wallets-fortunes.html).

The large majority of the mined BTC (63.04% of all the BTC) is only held by 16,005 addresses (i.e., less than 0.5% of the valid addresses). One of the largest accounts currently is the Binance Cold Wallet (a cold wallet is usually a hardware wallet not directly connected to the network, hence more difficult to compromise), holding more than 288k BTC (worth almost 14 billion USD). This is an active account, with several transactions, hence not a HODLer. In contrast, one large HODLer (https://bit.ly/2XUAXpQ), has been keeping his or her large assets since 2019: after an initial input transaction of 94,504 BTC, the wallet’s balance has remained untouched despite the recent ups&downs of the market. Other large holders are visible on BitcoinTreasuries.org.

Finally, while we focused on Bitcoin, all cryptocoins have their own HODLers.

Auteur(s) de cette contribution :

Lecturer à University of Neuchatel | Page Web | Autres publications

Dr. Valerio Schiavoni received his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from Roma Tre University (Italy) and from the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland), respectively. He coordinated the Centre of Competence for Complex Systems and Big Data at UniNE and currently coordinates CUSO (Conférence Universitaire Suisse Occidentale) for the Computer Science programs. Since 2018, he has been a Lecturer (Maître-Assistant) within the Computer Science Department (IIUN) at UniNE. He co-founded SafeCloud Technologies Sarl, a Swiss start-up. He co-founded AHUG, a Swiss not-for-profit group for practitioners using the ARM technology for high-performance computing. His interests span several domains, including system security, large-scale and distributed systems, deep learning and system support for efficient data science.