New crypto accounts at service providers now exceed 139 million, with 35 million of them being ID verified according to a new benchmarks study by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance.
User numbers grew by 4x in 2017, they say, and then doubled again in the first three quarters of 2018 to now 35 million verified accounts.
There were only 5 million such accounts in 2016, growing to 18 million in 2017 and 35 million up to September 2018.
This is a lower bound estimate and it does appear to be an underestimate. Coinbase alone says they have 20 million users. Japan’s financial regulator stated in April of this year that there are 3.5 million crypto users. A new study from China says there are 7.5 million users there.
Coinbase does serve both Europe and America, but South Korea probably has at least 5 million users. In South Africa, bitcoin’s popularity is growing. Then there’s Latin America. Turkey and the wider middle east. The rest of Asia. The part of Europe that uses local exchanges like Bitstamp, and so on.
Suggesting there’s somewhere between 50 million to 100 million unique crypto users, with some of course having multiple accounts.
Interestingly, the study finds that most are ordinary users rather than institutional investors. That might be because the infrastructure for the latter is still being developed, with regulatory clarity only beginning to bring certainty in US.
Close to 40% are active users according to the study as measured by how often they log into service providers.
The criteria they use is weekly logging, suggesting about 40% are traders or closely watch the price. The remainder are perhaps more passive long term investors and/or businesses.
They say speculation and long term investment accounts for the vast majority of crypto activity, without qualifying the percentage.
Another finding is a trend in bitcoin of an increase in the median payment amount since 2016, especially for international payments which usually are between $100 to $1,000. They say:
“The study also finds that the median size of the average consumer-to-consumer (P2P/C2C) transfer in our survey is $100, consumer-to-business (C2B) payment is $14, while the average business-to- business transfer (B2B) is significantly larger ($50,000).”
That suggests bitcoiners are using the blockchain as a settlement layer, bundling many payments into one big transaction.
About $3.6 billion worth of bitcoin was sent in the past 24 hours through its blockchain, significantly more than other cryptos.
All so showing that while price has declined this year, user numbers have grown throughout to a new high.