Ethereum has seen an increase of 15 million new unique addresses since May 2018, adding about 100,000 new unique addresses a day to now reach 50 million (pictured above).
A comparable number for bitcoin can’t easily be found, but logically it should be far higher because it has been around for a lot longer than eth.
One proxy way of getting an idea for bitcoin unique addresses might be blockchain.info wallet user numbers. They’re up this year from about 21 million to 31 million.
As you may know this confusingly named company provides a non-custodial online wallet where you create and own your private key. So 31 million addresses were created by just this service. Then there’s all the other services of ways of creating a new address.
Some have confused the above wallet stats for total bitcoin addresses, but we know they’re different because they start at the end of 2011 with 2 wallets, which is when this company was founded. Bitcoin by that point had been running for a couple of years, so there were far more than two unique addresses.
Just how many, however, we can not easily see for some reason. We’d estimate, out of thin air, perhaps 200 million to half a billion unique bitcoin addresses.
A far more useful metric is active users. That sort of mirrors the price, but in a somewhat interesting way recently:
We can see eth briefly overtook bitcoin in January, when after the bitcoin show as futures opened, it appeared eth might take the stage.
It did, but didn’t keep it at all so they move down together until summer. Then eth devs announced a change of plans regarding an imminently anticipated Hybrid Proof of Stake (PoS) upgrade.
So we see a divergence here whereby bitcoin is in a small uptrend in active users, while eth is in a small downtrend until it kind of flatlines in October.
Even with this divergence, we can reasonably guess that ethereum has about 50% of bitcoin’s total amount of users. That’s because eth has about 50% of bitcoin’s active addresses.
So then why isn’t eth’s market cap about 50% of bitcoin? Well, we can see that not far off from a million addresses are finding daily utility in bitcoin and eth, but what sort of utility?
In bitcoin, about $4 billion was sent in the past 24 hours, while in eth only $250 million was sent, less than 10%.
In bitcoin, however, close to 7% of its market cap is being utilized, while in eth it’s 2.5%. If we do some napkin maths to make it proportional, thus reduce the bitcoin sum moved by a 3rd as it uses 3x more of its market cap than eth, we get 20%.
Bitcoin’s market cap is currently $56 billion. Eth is at $9 billion, or 16%. Making it fairly close to our model.
To make sense of that, firstly mixers are far more used in bitcoin than in eth, so it may be that its active user numbers are a bit inflated.
More importantly, however, transactions are far more condensed in BTC than in eth. So while bitcoin might be processing less transactions or while it might appear it has only 2x eth’s active users, the value moved by each user is far higher than in eth.
That may be because bitcoin has a fairly strong and a somewhat established use case in international payments and other likewise niches. Eth could have those too, but the average eth transaction is only $400, as compared to bitcoin’s $14,000.
Meaning eth probably has more of a consumer use in dapps and so on, while BTC probably has a business use with the blockchain sort of a rails on which they can move money, rather than a platform on which they can play games or finance.
On the other hand, almost all stats show that there has been a divergence between network activity and price. However, if we look at the dollar value transferred, maybe that’s not the case:
We can see here that for much of last year a lot more eth was sent even as price was increasing. We do not know why, it might have simply been to exchanges, but for much of this year, the amount of eth sent has been fairly static even as price decreased. Meaning the amount of dollars moved fell.
That has somewhat changed recently as can be seen at the end of the chart. While price has fallen, the amount of eth moved has been increasing. Suggesting there is a certain level of utility whereby eth is used as a conduit, as a means of exchange.
That utility now seemingly has to respond to the price fall by increasing the amount of eth moved so as to effectively keep it static as far as dollar equivalents are concerned.
Obviously much of this is guesswork based on limited data, but there does appear to be a certain level of “need” for eth in whatever use cases it is being utilized. A level that sort of doesn’t care about price for its use case.