5 min read

Bitcoin: 2016 in Review

In addition to my day job as a BitGo engineer, I run Statoshi.info, a site I created in 2014 to track Bitcoin metrics from the perspective…

In addition to my day job as a BitGo engineer, I run Statoshi.info, a site I created in 2014 to track Bitcoin metrics from the perspective of a full node.

I’ve always been fascinated with the raw numbers relating to the status and growth of Bitcoin, especially as the hype cycle is turned up or down, depending on popular sentiment. To that end I’ve compiled statistical measurements of Bitcoin’s growth in 2016 from a variety of sources.

Before we dive into the metrics, one thing is clear: Bitcoin is at the center of an increasingly complex ecosystem that continues to grow in a variety of ways. It is difficult to see all of the moving pieces since statistics are spread across many sources, but the picture becomes more clear when you bring them all together.

General Interest Statistics

Academic interest continues to rise. Note that Google Scholar stats usually lag by several months, thus we expect the 2016 number will continue rising:

Willy Woo graphed some academic paper stats:

Search interest was once again on the rise:

Bitcoin was proclaimed dead another 28 times:

Mining Statistics

Hash rate tripled (technically it increased 200%, not 300%):

Hash rate accelerated at the fastest rate ever. This is equivalent to adding a 14 TH/S Antminer S9 every 4.5 minutes:

Hash power become more decentralized:

The worst case attack scenario for an entity to brute force rewriting the entire history of Bitcoin’s blockchain dipped quite low but then shot back up. This is a unique measure of Bitcoin’s network security:

Miner revenue surged:

Transaction Statistics

Average transactions per second increased about 50%

As contention for limited block space increased, the usage of dynamic transaction fees surged:

Transaction fee estimates also surged as users vied to outbid each other:

Transaction fees relative to block subsidy rose, offering some hope that Bitcoin will continue to be able to pay for its own security as the block rewards decrease in the coming years:

Median time to confirm rose, pointing once again to demand for block space exceeding available supply:

The size of the unspent transaction outputs set increased, suggesting that there are probably more unique entities owning bitcoins:

In fact, we created a net new UTXO every 3 seconds:

Network Statistics

Reachable node count held steady after falling for the past several years:

Block propagation times halved:

OP_RETURN outputs increased 60% year-over-year due to a rise in popularity of anchoring services such as Blockstack, Colu, and Counterparty:

Percentage of full blocks increased throughout the year:

The total size of Bitcoin’s blockchain doubled:

Development Statistics

Activity on the dev email list went back to “normal” levels:

IRC activity moved over to the core dev room:

Bitcoin Core had a fair amount of Github activity:

You can see an excellent visualization of Core’s github activity here:

Economic Statistics

VC funding fell back to 2014 levels:

More Bitcoin payments were processed than ever before:

Bitcoin was once again the world’s best performing currency:

With an exchange rate increase of 123%, Bitcoin’s “market cap” increased past $16B, earning it 69th place globally in terms of M1 money supply.

All in all, 2016 was a good year for the Bitcoin ecosystem. We’re looking forward to seeing more growth in 2017!